Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's SEC home game against Tennessee.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
We're looking forward to the ball game here Saturday at 12:20. (We have the) Tennessee Volunteers coming in and it should be a big crowd. We've sold practically all the tickets. Our fans will be ready to scream and yell and cheer for the Gamecocks. We're very healthy at this time of the year. Almost everyone is available to play so we're in position to go play these guys. Tennessee has had somewhat of a struggling year. They've looked pretty good at times. Their personnel on defense looks as good as anyone we've played, maybe better than some teams, but they seem to not play well in the second half as an entire team. We have to play well to beat these guys. Since South Carolina joined the conference in 1992, we've only won three times in 17 or 18 years. We'll try our best to beat them and get ready for the next one. It should be a heck of a game here Saturday at 12:20, high noon.
On the SEC's dealing with helmet-to-helmet hits
You'll have to ask the commissioner. They rule on those type of helmet-to-helmet suspensions. I saw a couple in some ball games this past week. It will be interesting to see if anything is done on that. We're all for player safety, and it's something we're always striving for.
On if the history of the series factors into the game
It always factors into the game. History always factors into everything a little bit. Not completely, but we're preparing like most of our games this year. We're not trying to overhype any one game. We're trying to improve and play a lot better than we did last week. We had some breaks against Vanderbilt. Two of our touchdowns were scramble plays. We didn't play extremely well and had several penalties that could have been costly. We have to play a lot better if we'll continue to have a chance to have a big year this year.
On the year Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery and Stephen Garcia are having
That's just part of trying to win games. That's just something for you sportswriters to talk about. What's neat about all those guys is that they're very good team players. Marcus (Lattimore), Alshon (Jeffery) and Stephen (Garcia), I've never heard them talk about individual stats. They're out there trying to do whatever they can to win the game.
On the play calling
We had a bit of a community system working a little bit. I called a lot of them. I didn't call all of them, but we have a system there where we're all on the headset. It was a little different, but not a whole lot different. When we look for a run, Coach Elliott usually looks at what he thinks has the best chance and so forth. I think the coach who spends most of the time with the quarterback probably should be the play caller. G.A. (Mangus) was sort of the main guy there than the rest of us, which was a little different than we've been doing, but I like that because he talks to Stephen (Garcia) in between series.
On the amount of true freshmen Tennessee has played this season
We all play a lot of freshmen. Ace Sanders and Marcus Lattimore are freshmen out there. IF you're a good player it doesn't matter if you're a freshman or senior. It just depends on how they play. We have some good freshmen, we have some good seniors and so forth. We try to put the best players out there regardless of what year they are in school.
On preventing disaster plays Brian Maddox had some nice runs in there and finally had a little running room. Kenny Miles just didn't have much room there, but Kenny did recover a Tori (Gurley) fumble early in the game. That was an excellent play there. Stephen Garcia fell on the wild, high snap we had. Seth Strickland had the blocked field goal, so we prevented a major disaster on those plays. It was good to see our offense can recover fumbles, so now we'll try to get our defensive guys to get their hands on some fumbles and not bat them around like we've been doing. That's an area we're working on in trying to get turnovers.
On the secondary against Vanderbilt
We were more in position. It was more simplified for the players. Again, Vanderbilt obviously doesn't throw the ball as well as Kentucky, but still our guys had fewer areas in assignments as opposed to the week before.
On punt returns
We decided later in the week that they wanted to put Ace Sanders back there. I was for Ace earlier in the season, so (with) he and Stephon (Gilmore), either is fine with me. Ace caught everything. What we have to do is try to give him and opportunity to return the punts. Vandy covered better than we did, and they held up better than we did. Either they have better athletes on special teams than us, or they played with better effort. I don't know which it is, but we need to hold up the other team and give our punt returns guys a chance.
On kick returns
I think Sherm (Bryce Sherman) is our guy back there right now. He seems to catch it and go forward.
On the offense
The second half at Kentucky was a little discouraging with everything that happened. Anyway, offensively on third downs we're almost leading the nation in that as far as making 55 percent. We've been scoring instead of kicking field goals. We haven't kicked a field goal in three or four games, except attempted one. We've done pretty well in those areas. The offense has played pretty well compared to years prior. We have a good team that if we can play better we have a chance to do some good stuff this year.
On what he tells kids wanting to play at South Carolina
We always talk about the opportunity to play. If you can earn the right to play or start, we give everyone that chance. With Marcus Lattimore here, if we sign another running back, (Marcus will) probably know that guy has a chance to beat him out. Nothing's given. You earn your way every year. The good players like that. They don't want anything given to them. They want to earn it year in and year out.