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Aug. 7, 2005

Columbia, S.C. –
South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier and the 2005 Gamecock football team met with the media on Sunday afternoon on Media Day at Williams-Brice stadium. Below are quotes from Coach Spurrier’s press conference and selected quotes from Gamecock players.

South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier

“I appreciate everyone coming out today for media day here with Carolina Football. Our guys are excited. We are not quite ready to play yet but we shouldn’t be. It’s been wonderful thus far. The support from the fans, from the university and administration. I think we will have a team that our fans, the university, everyone can be proud of. We are an unknown team. Only time will tell how we end up.”

(On chances in the SEC)
“We don’t know who is going to be the best. You (media) experts do the picking but we do the playing and coaching. The preseason predictions are the same as they always have been. All I know is we are picked fourth in the SEC East and that’s probably where we should be picked right now. Other than that, I haven’t really studied the other teams and don’t plan to until we play them that week.”

(On first week of practice)
“I think we have done a lot this week. Last night was a little frustrating, some of our guys couldn’t stay on side but that happens. Every time you watch the tape after practice you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought. We are about where we thought but we still have a long way to go.”

(On freshmen class)
“Our team speed looked exciting on opening night but as the week progressed we realized that those freshmen started looking like freshmen. We do have a lot of talent and potential. They do have a chance to be outstanding players for us. But it will take time. Some times we need to be a little more patient with the freshmen. I have done a lot of talking this week, and hopefully, good coaching. We had a chance to meet approximately three hours every day, had an hour walk-through and a two-hour practice. I’ve been talking more than I normally do during the course of a year.”

(On Blake Mitchell)
“Blake is much better prepared knowledge-wise and he’s a good passer when he does it right. When he doesn’t do it well, he’s average. He’s got potential, he’s got talent, and he can make the throws. Now it comes down to having confidence in the games, to do what he’s coached. I think Tiger Woods said it best, `There’s thousands of Ranger Ricks, a bunch of us that look pretty good on the range. But when the game starts we are all a bunch of stiffs.’ You have to take it from the practice field to the stadium when you put on the game uniform and 80,000, you go out there and play.”

“We’re making progress. Most of the guys have wonderful attitude, most of them really care. We need the entire team with that passion that they really care.”

“Blake can make all the throws just against the air. I think some times he tries too hard. What we need to do with Blake is just repetition, repetition. Keep his mind working and doing it the right way. He’s done a lot of good things. Made a lot of good throws last night that bounced off hands. Our receivers need to make plays.”

“I don’t know where we are going to be. Its just practice, the defense usually should do the best. They grab and hold receivers; there are no referees out there. The offensive linemen aren’t grabbing and holding as much as I wish they would right now. I told them that the other night. Will teach technique and all that a little later. Just learn how to compete and keep them out of the QB’s face.”

(On running back depth)
“I think we are setting a record in college football history with No. 1, No.2 and No.3 running back as freshmen. Mike Davis, Bobby Wallace and Taylor Rank are all fighting it out right there. Good chance all three of them will play and maybe play throughout the season. Mike Davis has been very impressive as a freshman. He’s strong enough to stick it up inside and physically he doesn’t look like a freshman. Bobby Wallace, the same way, he’s not very big but elusive and quick and hopefully he can dodge them instead of running them over. Taylor Rank has good speed and I know a lot of running backs don’t look like him, but he can play. I think they are all very talented and they can do some things for us.”

(On quarterback system)
“Blake can throw the ball as well as any quarterback that I had at Florida. Rex Grossman was a super passer with a very quick release. But as far as all those other guys, Blake can throw just as well as them. When and where you throw it, confidence level, how you throw it, those kinds of things are what we are trying to teach Blake. We have to keep remembering Blake wasn’t a big passer in high school. He only threw 130 passes I think his senior year, 13 a game. These other kids, Cade Thompson, Tommy Beecher, they play in the shotgun and threw every down. So Blake is just getting into being a passing quarterback. He has come a long way and he does have a lot of talent.”

(On Ko Simpson)

“I like Ko. I like Ko as a person and as a player. Ko is a player we need more of here at South Carolina. By that I mean, he’s quiet, very serious, loves to compete and loves to play hard. He’s serious at practice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him laugh or giggle. Ko is one of those guys and his potential is unlimited. He can break on the ball about as well as any player I have seen.”

(On the secondary)
Johnathan Joseph is a good player, Fred Bennett as well. Add Ko to that, with those three we have a chance of being real good there. We have to stay healthy.”

“I understand football is important in South Carolina. It’s important to this university. Right now we are just talking about being in top physical condition, and trying to play with discipline and effort, smarts and we’ll see where we are.”


Mike Davis, Freshman RB

(On goals for this season)
“My personal goal is to stay healthy and do the best that I can to help the team in whatever way that I can.”

(On being ready for the season)
“We are all very anxious to play. Saturday was our first chance to hit and be in all pads and we were all ready for that day to come.”

Syvelle Newton, Junior WR

(On practicing in Spurrier’s offense)
“In practice, we do more individual work and fundamentals to develop. The practice schedule is almost the same as last season. The receivers and quarterbacks have more individual time together. Coach Spurrier and Coach Spurrier, Jr. have helped out a lot in teaching us at the quarterback and receiver positions.”

(On expectations on the season)
“I have to do the best that I can to help the team. If the ball is thrown in my direction, I have to go get it. Last season, that is what Troy Williamson did. We have a lot of younger guys who can do that, but we all have to be consistent and be playmakers.”

Mike West, Junior LB

(On USC’s defense)
“The first day we all thought we have a great defense. It’s Coach Spurrier’s defense. The coaches have been keeping it simple and I believe they have us in a great scheme so we can make plays.”

Na’Shan Goddard, Senior OT

(On Blake Mitchell being named the starter for the 2005 season opener)
“Blake Mitchell brings a lot of leadership to the team. Right now he is the most experienced quarterback that we have, and he has been looking sharp in practice. He is the guy that comes to the huddle and tells us what we are going to do.”

(On personal goals and team goals)
“Our main goal is to get to a bowl game. That is something that we haven’t done since early on in my college career. For that to happen, everyone has to do their job.

Ricardo Hurley, Senior LB

(On Coach Spurrier and the coaching staff)
“Coach Spurrier is a great coach. Everyone knows about him because of his play calling, but basically he is just like us. They are serious about their job, but they can play jokes and have fun just like we can with each other. Coach Thompson is also another coach that is new on the staff. He is the first coach that I have had that just comes up to talk to you about stuff outside of football. He is the guy you can go up to and talk about anything to.”

Stanley Doughty, Sophomore DT

(On where do you want to be this year)
“Coach Holtz said when you come in as a freshman that you just want to play. Last year I did that, but this year I want to make more of an impact. Most importantly, I want to get a bowl ring. Getting to a bowl game is something that we all want to do, and we also want to be ranked in the top 25. We have to keep working hard and be dedicated each down that we play.”

Fred Bennett, Senior CB

(On the Gamecock secondary being one of the best in the SEC)
“We have a great chance to be one of the best secondaries in the conference this season. We have play makers like Ko Simpson, Jonathan Joseph and many others that are back for this season so we look forward to the challenge of being a great secondary.”

“The offense will be fine. They had some practices in during the spring, but it will take a while before they get where they need to be. The defense will not mind at all carrying the team for a couple of games but the offense will be there just give them some time.”

Jonathan Hannah, Freshman TE

(On coming to South Carolina)
“I wanted to come in and do things with Coach Spurrier that haven’t been done at South Carolina. I look forward to building something great starting this season.”

(On playing in the SEC)
“No opponent on our schedule will be easy, especially if they are a team in the SEC. The SEC is the toughest conference in the nation.”

Jabari Levey, Senior OT

(On the first week of practice)
“We are a lot more confident. When we get everyone on the same page on both sides of the ball, I really believe we will have a great team.”

(On Coach Spurrier)
“Coach Spurrier is a proven winner. Coach Spurrier really motivated us when he came in and said `Why not us?’ We have to take it to the next level and we all have to be aiming for the same landmarks.”

Lance Laury, Senior LB

(On the newcomers)
“We are all excited about the newcomers that are here, and we are hoping that they can help us right away. We will also depend on the guys who have been here to provide leadership and experience.”

(On Coach Thompson and Coach Nix)
“First of all, you have to have the guys that can execute. You need to have 11 on the field and then another 11 to back them up. I believe that they have given us a great scheme to execute our defense.”

(On the team enthusiasm of the 2005 season)

“Everyone has to keep focusing on what is at stake here and keep working hard each week.”

Tommy Beecher, Freshman QB

(On the impact Coach Spurrier’s hiring at South Carolina had on his decision to become a Gamecock)

“That was my decision, basically. I wanted to come here because I want to become the best quarterback I can be. I think Coach Spurrier is the best coach for that.”

(On learning the offense)
“Everyday we’re getting better. One thing about his system is that he gets receivers open. I’ve noticed that he’s a genius of the playbook and he knows what play to call when people can get open.”

Cade Thompson, Freshman QB

(On choosing South Carolina)

“(Playing for Coach Spurrier) was probably the biggest part of my decision, that and playing in the SEC. South Carolina was the only SEC school that recruited me.”

Blake Mitchell, Redshirt Sophomore QB

(On being named the starter for the first game against UCF)
“I was excited. I was glad that he did it. It gives me confidence to know that he believes I can do it. “I think when Coach Spurrier named me the starter, he wanted me to step up my leadership a little bit, talk and interact more with the guys.

(On improving during the summer)

“Five days a week we worked. We ran, we lifted, we threw. You don’t’ want to look back and think, “If I’d have done this.” You want to give yourself every opportunity. I think throwing a few days a week really helped with our timing and getting comfortable.

(On the offense)

“Quarterbacks are trained to run an offense like this. It’s not necessarily pass-heavy. You’ve got to be able to run the ball. The quarterback makes a lot of decisions on what goes on.”