April 25, 2005
South Carolina Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier (SS) spoke to the media today on the SEC Spring Football Teleconference. The following are a few comments from the teleconference.
Q: Coach Spurrier, evaluate your team’s progress during spring drills.
We got off to a very good start simply because we had pretty good weather all through the spring. We got all 15 of our days in. We had lots of snaps, lots of repetitions. We obviously made a lot of mistakes and errors especially by the offensive line and the quarterbacks at times, but it was a learning process. You have to start somewhere so I think it was good that we did get so many snaps and plays in throughout the spring.
Q: Can you tell me about Antonio Heffner? What do you like about him and what particularly he needs to work on?
Antonio is a young man with a lot of athletic ability. He throws the ball very well when he gets his feet set properly. He can make a lot of good throws. He has the ability to scramble away from the rush, which I believe is extremely important nowadays because you just can’t sit there, and say ‘I’m throwing from this spot’ and expect to be protected all the time. Antonio has a lot of ability. What he needs to do is learn our offense, he needs to learn where everybody goes on every play, and learn what our pass protections are all about. He’s just way behind as far as overall knowledge of football and to play quarterback nowadays not only in the SEC, but anywhere in the country you have to have knowledge of the game. If you’re gonna throw a lot, your quarterback has got to be a smart guy. He’s got to know what is happening with just about all 21 other players on the field. So that is where Antonio needs to make a lot of progress this summer.
Q: Is it still as wide open (the quarterback situation) as it has been?
Yeah, it’s wide open. Our quarterback position is wide open between he (Heffner) and Blake Mitchell and Brett Nichols, a walk-on. We have a couple of freshman players coming in. Cade Thompson from Maryville, Tennessee and Tommy Beecher from Concord, North Carolina. We will see if they are ready to play. It’s pretty wide open. Obviously about a week or so into preseason practice, you have to make a decision. If you are trying to get four quarterbacks ready, you probably not getting anybody ready so we will make some pretty quick decisions a week or so into preseason practice.
Q: Would you like to have had your quarterback situation a little more resolved going into the fall or do you feel like coming into the new coaching staff, that (quarterback situation) was expected?
We would have loved to have inherited an all-conference quarterback and plugged him into our system here, but that did not happen. We have a lot of young men that have not played much at all. I think Blake Mitchell had thrown about 20 passes. Right now, we have a kid, Michael Rathe, who is still trying to get his sixth year of eligibility and whether or not he gets it, who knows. Supposedly the decision will be made in two to three weeks so we let him play a little bit throughout the spring, but held him out most of the time just because we did not know if he would be eligible. We are what we are. We have a lot of time though. We did have a lot of snaps and a lot of throws for these guys through the spring. We had a lot of errors and hopefully we will find out which player can learn from his mistakes.
Q: Do you think someone will emerge and take over in the fall?
I hope so. If we had to play right now, we certainly would not be a wide open, throw it around team. We might be a 15-20 pass a game type team if we had to play today, but we are certainly hoping and expecting some quarterback to come in and prove to the team that he can play the position and that he that knows the offenses and defenses and that he says “Coach, give me the ball and let me go”. I am hoping someone will emerge like that.
Q: David Cutcliffe and Chan Gailey were two coaches who had some health problems this off-season. I am curious to know that with the kinds of schedules that you guys keep up, how much time to you devote to trying to stay healthy and exercising and making sure that you stay healthy and active.
I devote a lot of time to it. That is sort of thing I enjoy doing, working out. Our weight room has a nice treadmill, bike, stairmaster, and you can do hand weights so I’ve actually worked out more in the last four or five months than I ever have. I have got a little bit more time since my wife and youngest son, Scottie, are still up in Leesburg, Virginia. He is finishing his senior year of high school. I have just about always, in the last 15-20 years at least, been at least a four to five day a week workout guy. It is a choice. Coaches can choose to work out or they can choose to do nothing. You can always use the excuse, I am too busy to work out, but we all have time if we really want too. That is the way I look at it and it (working out) is something that I enjoy doing.
Q: When you hear about coaches in those kinds of situations, does that kind of put a scare into you?
It does not put a scare into me because I have been doing it for at least 28-35 years. It is a lifestyle for me. I do not have to think to do or not to do it. If I miss a day, I try to double up a little bit the next day.
Q: With yourself in the new job and Les Miles at LSU and Urban Meyer at Florida, do you think that with so many new coaches that the SEC this year could be a little more wide open, a little more interesting, maybe even a little more fun, kind of unpredictable?
Well, I have been gone for three years so I do not know how it has been or whatever. But I know that there are so many good teams all over. I was talking to someone earlier about what your goals are and our goals are to hopefully be at the top of the SEC someday. That is our goal to get there and that is the same goal as Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and LSU. All of their fans expect them to be at the top also. There are only a few schools that their fans that do not realistically think that they can get to the top. I believe we have the resources here at South Carolina to someday get there. We have everything here to be successful and all we need to do is go do it.
Q: Coach, having been gone during this time, what is the SEC’s reputation like compared to what it was like when you left?
I think it is good. I think everyone wants to compare who’s the best teams and who’s the best conferences. It gives fans something to talk about all year. Since we do not have a playoff, that creates the interest there but I do not know who the best conferences are. I am not that smart to figure up whom the best teams are, but I do know that the SEC attendance-wise is the best. But now who has the best team year in and year out, unless we all played each other in a playoff system at the end of the year. That is the only time that someone can say who is. Other than that, it is just opinion.