Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's regular season finale against rival Clemson. The Gamecocks and Tigers will kick off at 7:45 p.m. on ESPN.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
We're looking forward to a big ballgame Saturday night at 7:45. Obviously a couple of teams with the same record right now (will be playing). Obviously a lot is on the line for us. We're trying to win the state championship, and they're trying to win it also. They have a big game the following week and we don't, so that's the different situation. We both have the same record of course, and I'm sure both teams are excited to play. We had a few guys get nicked up last game. That will be a weekly decision as we go as to if their health is ready to play. Other than that we're looking forward to the game and see if we can get 10 wins. I'm sure our fans will be screaming and yelling and ready to go, so hopefully home field advantage will kick in for us this week.
On health at the linebacker position
Right now they're all tentative. We're hoping most of them will be cleared by the time the game gets here Saturday. Two or three probably won't practice this week. Hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday they'll be able to do some. As of right now I don't think any are ruled out. (Reginald) Bowens, Quin (Smith), Qua (Gilchrist), Shaq (Wilson), they're not ruled out yet.
On both schools being highly ranked and the visibility it gives the state
It helps both schools. It helps our state. If we were both 11-0, that would be better, but we're both 9-2. They lost a couple of conference games and we lost a couple of conference games. It worked out they're the division winner. Ours didn't work out. It's neat for our state. We have two teams in the top 25 about the whole year and occasionally in the top 15. They've been in the top 10 until this last week. They've had a super year. Obviously they didn't have a good game last week, but they're a talented team and capable of scoring a bunch of points against everyone they play. We have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides if we'll have a chance to beat them here on Saturday night.
On kickoffs against Clemson's return team
We're not going to put our gameplan out there to read, but we'll hope special teams doesn't beat us again this week. Not that Arkansas beat us through special teams, but they did run one back untouched. We just have to be careful. If we have to kick a few grounders out there, that's what we'll do.
On containing Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
I don't know the best way to always contain a great receiver. Sometimes you zone behind them, and sometimes you bump and run to give help. He's a pretty great player. Obviously he can return kicks and go the distance. A very talented young man to have his size. I think he was the 200-meter champion in the state of Florida. They have fast kids in Florida, so that shows you the type of speed he possesses. We'll hopefully have a plan similar to whatever has been working.
On looking ahead to the game
We'll try to figure out the best way to win the game Saturday night. Offense, defense, special teams, that's the only thing we need to worry about right now. We realize we're fortunate to be in the position we're in right now. We've won almost all of our close games this year - all but one - so we've had great fortune this year. We're not a great team by any stretch of the imagination, but we're 9-2. We are where we are right now. We feel fortunate to be here. Hopefully our team will be excited to play Saturday night.
On Clemson RB Andre Ellington
H's an excellent player. He's a talent, there's no question about that. He's fast, quick and can make guys miss. He's a talented running back, no question about that.
On Clemson's season
This time last week I read articles about how they could still win the national championship. I don't know if one of our local guys wrote it, but someone wrote it. That's who they were last week. They haven't dropped that far. They had a lousy game last week, but this is a very good team. They didn't win nine games accidentally. We're going to have to play well if we'll have a chance to beat those guys. I know they had a bad game last week, but they're very capable.
On this being just the fourth time both teams are ranked in the game
It is interesting. Obviously we all know our history around here, and we know their history. We were watching the tape early today and it showed the scoreboard, and they must have 12 or 15 ACC championships over the years. The have them stacked up on that wall there. I said these guys have some tradition there. Of course I can remember my days at Duke when we played Clemson, they were always the favorite in the ACC when I was there. They were just the dominant team in the conference so often.
On the seniors
They've done a good job, Travian (Robertson), Melvin (Ingram), Terrence (Campbell). Those guys have done a good job trying to provide leadership and to keep the young guys in line, focused and so forth. It's neat to be the only team that went back-to-back nine wins (at South Carolina). Hopefully more opportunities are out there. We'll just keep trying to play as best and smart we can, and we'll see where it's at after whatever bowl game we go to.
On the rivalry
I think most of these guys grew up in South Carolina so they know the rivalry between the two schools. Honestly it might have been bigger for South Carolina when South Carolina was independent and it was the big game, whereas now we're in a conference and conference play is important. But at the end of the year this turns into the biggest game. If you're not in the conference championship game, this becomes the biggest game of the year for us.
On playing freshman offensive linemen
You can live with freshman offensive linemen if you don't throw the ball 40 times a game. We realize that's just not what we can do right now. We have been able to run it pretty well. We've run the ball effectively. Not super; we don't have any long runs. I wish we could pop a 50 or 60 every now and then. Connor (Shaw) did. But running the ball gives you a chance, and our defense has played well all year. We struggled against the triple option, which everyone does it seems like. Someone said Georgia Southern ran for 300 yards against Alabama. If you look at it in perspective, those teams seem to go up and down the field when you play it against teams that don't see it (often).
On if the passing performance can carryover to the Clemson game
The Citadel had no pass rush as you know. They brought the corner off the edge a few times, so that was the only threat they had, but their kids played tough inside. Clemson has some pass rushers. They have some guys flying of the edges that will give us problems if we try to throw 40 times or something like that. We have to be smart if we try to throw the ball. It maybe gave us confidence we can hit some balls here or there, but it wasn't a great passing game last week although 16 out of 18 sounds good.
On Damiere Byrd
We may put him back there (on kick returns). Damiere we thought we would get more out of him, but that's another thing that hasn't worked out. Alshon (Jeffery) hasn't had as many balls thrown at him as we thought. Really none of those receivers have had a bunch of them, but that's the kind of team we are right now. We'll try to be the team we've been. We're not going to change a bunch of stuff.