Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's rivalry game at Clemson.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
We play Clemson Saturday night at 7:06 p.m. (We're) playing for the state championship just like last year. It's always a huge game to play in-state rivals. They give a trophy for this game. It's one of our goals every year to beat those guys and I'm sure that's one of their goals too. It should be a heckuva game. They had a season that could have been better. (They) lost some close games and are not quite where they hope to be. Anyway we all are where we are. It should be a heckuva game Saturday night. I'm looking forward to going up and seeing if we can continue to play well like we have the last two weeks. Our guys have had a good attitude and I expect to have good, solid practices this week and to go up and give them our best shot. We'll see what happens up there at Clemson in Death Valley.
On playing for something
This game is on the schedule at the beginning of the season every year. We're fortunate we have a bonus game (SEC Championship game) at the end of the season, but it doesn't diminish anything about the game this week. Every coach and every team should always play the game that week. I realize in the NFL they don't do that. Sometimes when they clinch a playoff spot they play the backup guys, but in college we're different than that. We play every game. We are whatever our record is at the end of the year. We are whatever we do against our in-state rival, and one school, team and fans will have a lot of bragging rights at the end of the year.
On reaching nine wins with a victory
That was another goal for our team to win nine games this year. Whether or not we can do it (we'll see). We'll keep trying and try to do it Saturday night.
On his relationship with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and the rivalry
He text messaged me (after south Carolina clinched the SEC East) and I called him back and said I appreciate it. (Georgia coach) Mark Richt sent a letter congratulating us on winning the east ... I like Dabo. He's a good person and good coach and runs a good program down there. I mentioned last night I think we have a good, healthy rivalry with Clemson now. It was ugly about six years ago in that game at Death Valley. It was a terrible scene for our state of South Carolina. I don't sense any way that can happen with the coaching staffs that are in place now and the players that are in place. It will be a hard-fought game. I don't think there will be any trash talk or late hits. There's no badmouthing in recruiting between Clemson and South Carolina now. I realize some fans don't want to hear that, but I think that's the way it should be, and I think Dabo and his guys think that's the way it should be.
On his thoughts on moving the Clemson game to the beginning of the year
It would be fine with me. Having it at the end of the year is difficult because we're not in the same conference. If we're in the same conference it would be a big game like Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and Auburn-Alabama. Florida-Florida State are not and Georgia-Georgia Tech are not. They probably talk about moving the game also, but neither of them have either. Either way is fine with me, but it would make sense if we moved it to the first game of the year. That would give both groups of fans something to talk about all summer.
On if South Carolina has turned a corner
We've turned it a little bit. That's all. We've turned it a little bit in winning the east. The next two weeks will determine what we've done this year. Our players know that and our fans know it. We'll keep pushing this week and next week, then we'll have some time off before whatever bowl game we go to. We'll try to play our best these two weeks and then see where we are.
On Clemson junior defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
He's one of the best defensive linemen we'll play against all year. He's a projected first round, NFL guy; maybe in the first four or five picks. Sometimes our guys had trouble blocking those Troy guys, so I'm sure we'll have trouble blocking him. Maybe we'll let a back chip off or have a tight end, but we don't throw the ball that much to have to devise a bunch of protection schemes. We'll try to run it and throw it real quickly when we're throwing. Hopefully our guys can handle him a bit. He's a very good player. They're defensive line is about as good as any around.
On how his team approaches the rivalry
We haven't played the game yet. We approach every game similarly. Our guys know the importance of this game and the next game. They're all very important. Our guys know what we're trying to do. When you say young guys you're talking about (players like) Marcus Lattimore. I think he knows what's happening the next two weeks. Other than that I don't know how many freshmen are playing a bunch. There are a few like Ace Sanders. They know it's important. This is another week to try and play the best we can and improve on last week.
On Clemson holding the all-time series advantage
It would be nice to just win the game. We don't generally talk about that that much. They have won a whole lot more than we have, it's no question. We're just trying to play our best to win the game this week. Everything else we can't have control over. We'll just try our best to beat them this week.
On South Carolina's multiple players with sacks vs. Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers earning most of Clemson's sacks
It means Coach Brad Lawing rotates our players a lot with Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram, Travian Robertson, Ladi Ajiboye and Cliff Matthews. All five of them have quite a few (sacks). That's just the way it is. Sometimes one guy gets most of them like Alshon (Jeffery) gets most of the passes and Marcus (Lattimore) gets most of the runs. That's just the way it's been with our defensive line. They've all contributed.
On playing a night game on the road
We'll try to use the same schedule that we went down to Florida (with). We played about the same time. We'll just try to stay on the same schedule, and hopefully we can play well. If we play well and the other team doesn't, it's not as loud. But if you don't play well and the other team does, it gets loud.
On the offensive line
Our offensive line has been a lot better holding the count. (We have) very few false starts this year. We expect to stay onside. Blocking and tackling are probably the main things we're concerned about, and usually the (crowd) noise shouldn't affect blocking and tackling.
On Stephen Garcia
He has played much more consistently this year. He needs to play the next two weeks well. Our entire team, if we can play close to our potential these next two weeks, we'll see where we are.
On what he expects to see from Clemson defensively
I'm sure they'll have a bunch of guys at the line of scrimmage to stop our running game and try to stop Marcus (Lattimore). We may need to throw a little bit more or a little less. You never know until the game gets going. Starting out against Georgia, we didn't think we'd run 37 times, and against Florida we didn't know he'd run 40 times, but we got ahead. We know we have to run the ball. That's what we do best, but we also have to keep finding Alshon (Jeffery) and these other receivers when it looks good.
On sitting Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery sitting against Troy
(Marcus Lattimore) carried 40 (times) the week before and was fine against Troy. That's the kind of player we have. He probably could have made 250 or 300 yards rushing if that was our goal against Troy, but that's not our goal. Alshon (Jeffery) was fine sitting out the second half also. He could have ran up his stats in the second half also, but our guys understand its an opportunity for our players to play that haven't had the chance to play much this year. We have guys that believe it's all about the team and whatever we achieve as a team is what will be remembered this year.
On how big the Carolina-Clemson rivalry is
I think it's the biggest one in this state. How's that. In the other states, theirs are the biggest. I don't know. I don't rate them. That's up to you sportswriters. It's the biggest one in our state, that's for sure.