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Aug. 28, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier answered questions from the media on Sunday afternoon as the Gamecocks prepare for Thursday night’s season opener against UCF.

“We are looking forward to Thursday night and playing the University of Central Florida. What we know about them is they struggled a little bit last year, but that’s history. George O’Leary is an excellent coach with a tremendous track record and he will have his players ready to play and ready to do everything to beat us on Thursday night. We are expecting a tough difficult game.”

“Our guys are excited, coaches, support staff, everyone, we are looking forward to finally playing a real game. We appreciate our fans’ support, it’s a sell-out and we appreciate ESPN putting us on national TV. We realize that we have not done anything to earn the spotlight, but we’ll take it and hopefully our play will prove that we maybe deserve it.”

“We are expecting a little bit of everything, which we will try to expect really throughout the course of the season. It’s probably a little unknown for both teams.”

“Our two tailbacks will be Mike Davis and Bobby Wallace, barring injury between now and the game. Taylor Rank will play some also. Lanard Stafford is our number one fullback to go in there. Who will be the playmakers? That is hard to tell right now. Syvelle Newton and Kris Clark will most likely be our two starters at wide receiver right now. Kris Clark has really played well through spring practice, preseason practice. He’s really probably been our receiver that gets open and catches everything. All of them will have a chance.

“I think Noah (Whiteside) has made excellent progress from a fairly serious broken ankle. He’s worked pretty hard I think to get ready to play. I don’t know if he’s quite 100 percent but he’s close. He’s scheduled to play.”

“Kris (Clark) is one of those players who you probably look at and say well he’s not the fastest or tallest but what he has done, he’s been very coachable and he runs his routes almost exactly like how we coach him and he knows how to get open and separate from the defender. He catches about every time, which our receivers are not doing nearly as well as we hope to some day. He’s just been productive and a remarkable team player.”

“This game is about our players against their players. I know some times the coaches; we get way too much spotlight of the game. I wish it wasn’t that way but I understand that is how it’s going to be.”

“As a coach you always have a little concern of what possibly can go bad. You do all you can to prevent it but at some point you say, we’ve done all we can. You never know exactly what will happen the first game, especially with some players that have never played before.”

“We always enter the game believing we can play well and we hope to mix it up, run and pass. The first thing is, we always try to get them to be successful in practice. You know, don’t drop any balls in practice. If you do that, you have got a better chance to do it in the games. Confidence I think comes from being well prepared and doing it over and over again in repetition. That’s what we shoot for prior to the games and then again, you got to do it in the real game.”

“Blake (Mitchell) is our quarterback. We know that he is our best quarterback. Antonio (Heffner) will be in there some, we will let him play and he can do a lot of good things. Cade (Thompson) he may play a little bit here and there.

“As a coach, most all of us tell our teams, if we have to win it 10-7 will do it that way, if it has to be 50-48 then will try to win it that way. Whatever occurs during the course of the game, we’ll try to win it. I think our defense is ready to play extremely well. We hope both sides play very well and the special teams.”

“Until we go play, it’s still hard to say. We’ve been going against each other. Who knows until we go against opponents? I do have confidence that our defense is going to play very well. They’ve covered well, rushed the passer, stopped the run pretty well; I think they improved a lot since the first spring practice. Again, we have got to do it Thursday night. I don’t like to compliment any of our team too much yet because we haven’t played a game. We don’t need to be sitting here bragging about anything on our team. We have to go play and try to earn our way.”

“I would say eight to 10 true freshmen will play right now. Then again we will wait and see how that plays out. We would like to red-shirt as many as possible. I’m a big believer that as many fifth-year players you have, you have got a lot stronger of a team. We don’t have too many fifth-year players on the current roster, hopefully some day we will.”

“I think our fans are expecting some good things in the future. I don’t know if they expect a turnaround, right away. I do think that we have a team that has a chance to do some good things this year. Now whether or not we achieve that, we will just have to wait and see. The thing that I have talked about throughout the summer and at Gamecock Clubs (meetings) is that our team will be in shape. I think we will look like a team that has worked hard in the weight room and has done a lot of running. I hope we play with a lot of discipline; we stress that as much as we can as coaches. I hope we play like winners play. Don’t do the careless things that cause you to lose. We will try our best to accomplish our goals as we go through the season.”

“We should be prepared. We should never have an excuse for not being ready to play. As much time in the winter, summer, the preseason, every game we should be totally prepared to play.”

“This is a big game for us. It’s not just another game. We are in the national spotlight, like I said earlier, we appreciate this opportunity. Let’s take advantage of it. Let’s try and show some high school kids out there, what Carolina Football is all about. Hopefully we will play to the best of our ability. That’s all we can ask our guys to do.”

#70 Na’Shan Goddard
OT, Senior

On preparation for UCF game:
“We need to know as much as we can and be confident. If everyone is confident and knows their plays, then everything will work out. We just need to make sure we are prepared for anything they throw at us. That is the best way to be ready for the game.”

“We still don’t really know who we are yet as a team. I think we look pretty good but we won’t really know until we play some games. We have great players and things are starting to come together, but we need to play in game situations to see where we stand.”

#51 Orus Lambert
DE, Senior

“UCF is a pretty balanced run/pass team. They have a good running quarterback and we need to be prepared for that. Our defense has been working hard and by game time, should have things down pat. We can’t leave any room for surprises.”

On Coach Spurrier:
“With Coach Spurrier, the attitude is winning. He is a proven winner, a competitor and that attitude spreads throughout the team. He has a lot to prove and the team feeds into that. The enthusiasm is very high and it is exciting.”