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Nov. 18, 2006

Recap | Final Stats | Notes

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier

General Comments:
“Best game we have played this year. Offense played really well and defense made some plays. It was a good win. I couldn’t help but think that every time we kicked an extra point, why couldn’t we have done that last week, but that is how it goes. We had our chances this year in the conference, but it didn’t work out a lot of times. I think our team has improved and I think our guys are learning how to play.”

“Middle Tennessee is not a great team and Coach Stockstill says they are not ready to play an SEC team yet, but they are pretty good team and they have played very well in their conference. If they beat Troy next week, then they win their conference championship. They have a chance at a super season if they win out next week.”

“Our offensive guys have improved. I think all you guys have seen that as we have gone through the season, and our defensive guys played well today also. The special teams didn’t hurt us and I don’t think anything bad really happened. Hopefully, someday we can have some games like this against some SEC teams. That is the hope right there. That is not just a dream or a wish. If we get enough players in here that play the system and play well, then we have to have hope so we can score a lot of points.”

“Kenny and Blake played well. Blake has really played well these last couple of weeks. The entire team played well. We still need to keep it in perspective; it was Middle Tennessee and not an SEC team. Coach Stockstill is still getting his program started there. Other then that, it was a good last game. Our fans have been tremendous this year and hopefully we can build on this in the future. We need to play better at home in conference play. We played okay. We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be in the conference games at home this year.”

“We have six wins. Whatever that means I don’t know, but we will get ready to play Clemson next week then we will find out if we are going to a bowl game or not.”

On the Brinkley brothers’ play:
“The Brinkley brothers have been a big part of our defense, no question about it. Jasper had a lot of tackles today and Casper had a big game a while back. They played very well.”

On Blake Mitchell’s play and improvement:
“He has gotten to where he makes good decisions back there. His protection has been better. Today they were on him a little more than we had hoped. MTSU does a lot of zone pressure, zone blitzes, and bringing different guys playing zone behind it, but we picked up most of it. We had a good plan to pick up all of the blitzing and our fullback/tailback guys did a super job all day. The one time they got us in the first half, I think they rushed more then we had a chance to block. I was hoping Blake would take the three-step pass, but we didn’t do it on that.”

“Blake has really improved since he has come back. There is no question about that.”

“I don’t have the answer for why he has improved. He came back maybe not as worried. Sometimes being a QB and coming off the bench, it is easier when the first guy is not playing well and the coach says `get in there’. You figure I can’t do worse then the other guy that has been in there. His time off maybe allowed him to look at situations, and the line has played a lot better. It is a better offensive line then earlier in the year.”

“Our team has improved and that is what you hope for. We will find out how much we have improved when we play Clemson next week.”

South Carolina Players and Defensive Coordinator Quotes

Tyrone Nix, Defensive Coordinator
(on playing at Clemson next week): “I’ve never played there so I take it as another opportunity. But their field has the same amount of yards and you can only play with 11 players on each side. Same things. You have to play full speed and you have to play well. We have to work to try to eliminate the bad things. I need to watch some film on them.”

Thomas Coleman, Offensive Line
(success of the line): “There is a lot of communication up front on the line. Blake Mitchell made some good passes and we made some good catches today. It was fun, especially being senior day. It’s good to go out with a win and also get bowl eligible as well.

(Clemson game on your mind today?): “We had to take care of this game today. You can worry about them starting Monday, but today we had to think about the game at hand.”

(Regarding Blake Mitchell): “You have to keep your guy in front of you off the quarterback so there isn’t a lot of difference for us which quarterback. You have to block and make sure he has plenty of time and hope he makes the right decisions.”

Bobby Wallace, Running Back
“My eyes got really big during the run. It was pretty good. It was exciting. They were gaining on me at first and then I just sped up some.”

Fred Bennett, Defensive Back
“I thought we went in and did some good things today. After that first play (when MTSU scored) I thought `we have to get the momentum back’. It was the first play of the game and it is a long game. It happened, but after that we buckled down.”

(Regarding Clemson) “It’s a big game. It’s a game I want to win. May the best team win, but it’s a big game.”

(Regarding Senior Day)”It’s the last chance for the fans to see us on our field. I’ll miss it, but life goes on. This program is going all the way to the top. We have some good players here.”

Blake Mitchell, Quarterback
(Clemson): “I just take it as another game. It is a big game, I know it, but I don’t care. You have to take all the games the same way. We need to play well and not make mistakes. We need to keep ourselves in the ball game so we have a chance at the end.”

(today): “I played a decent game. I could have done a few more things. It seemed today like things were getting better and we were clicking. The games we lost were tough. We came out there and did things together today. We were clicking and there was good play-calling.”

(on Syvelle Newton): “He’s done a great job. He’s a playmaker and you love to have guys like that on the team.”

Jamon Meredith, Offensive Line
(Clemson): “We are supposed to treat every game as any game. Clemson has one of the best defensive ends in college (Gaines Adams) and so it’s a personal challenge for me. We try not to think about it and play every game the same, but we do hope for a different outcome this year.”

Syvelle Newton, Safety
(Senior Day emotional): “I can’t speak for all the seniors, but I can speak for myself. It felt great to get the ovation I got. It felt great today to play my last time here. We’ve been right there in so many games – right there.”

(Clemson): “I don’t have bad feelings about it. It’s going to be a great game. We are going to be fired up about it. I don’t get caught up in the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry. I have some good friends who play there. That’s for the fans. I just want to go out and play hard. A win for us would be big. It would get us to a bigger bowl game. They are trying to get to a bigger bowl, too.”

(Next year): “They are going to have a really good recruiting class and they have so many guys coming back – Sidney Rice, Cory Boyd, Blake Mitchell. Just me and Fred Bennett won’t be back on defense. They are going be a good team and I look forward to watching them.”

(On playing defense): “Some people say I have scarified so much. I could have been stingy when they made the move to defense. I could have been angry when they named Blake Mitchell the starter. Blake and I are friends. But I love playing the game. I want to win. I just love playing. When I had that season-ending injury last season it showed me that any play can be my last play of the year. You have to play like it’s your last play each time out. I learned a lot through that.”

Jasper Brinkley, Linebacker
“I think my brother and I lead by example. We aren’t talkers. We want to do the right thing and that’s good for the team. This year we’ve been students of the game. Next week anything can happen. Anything can happen any given Saturday. They want to beat us and we want to beat them as in-state rivals. But you have to treat it like a regular game, but it would be great to win.”

Cory Boyd, Offense
“The ball bounced our way today. The first play served as a wake-up call. We went out there and did what we had to do. I wanted to win for the seniors today and next week. I want to send these guys off with a win. It’ll boost our bowl chances.

(miss Syvelle on offense?): “I’ll never get use to seeing Syvelle on the other side of the ball. I miss the guy. He’s like a brother to me, but I really wish him well over there.”

Sidney Rice, Wide receiver
(easy today?): “I didn’t expect it to be, but everybody came to ready to play. It shows what we can do when we are all ready to play.”

Middle Tennessee State Coach Rick Stockstill

On the team’s good start:

“It couldn’t have started any better. We knew they were in man coverage; that’s what they’ve done all year. (Desmond) Gee did a good job of getting past his man and Clint (Marks) threw a great ball. Then the next possession, they completed a couple balls and then we knocked one out on Kenny (McKinley) and recovered about midfield but we couldn’t capitalize.”

On not getting any pressure on the quarterback:

“I think the big thing on that is just the size differential. South Carolina is very big up front and our defensive line is not very big. We’re more linebacker body types that rely on speed on quickness and their size nullified our quickness.”

On this loss affecting next week’s game against Troy:

“Next week, the Troy game, is a lot more important to us. That’s not to downplay anything today, that we didn’t try or anything like that. I think we have a lot of character and pride in that locker room. I think since we have something to play for next week, our guys will bounce back and be ready to play and complete next week.”

On coming back to USC:

“It was good to see those players I coached and recruited and to see Coach Spurrier and the other guys on the staff. In this profession, you’re close to the coaches. You develop friendships that are important after games and before games, but during the game you forget about all that stuff. It was good to see those coaches and players that I respect.”

On seeing Blake Mitchell play:

“I think Blake’s playing at a pretty high level these last three weeks. He had a lot of time back there and he probably threw a couple of bad balls, one that we should have intercepted and I think he missed one other, but I thought he played really well. He has good receivers and he’s pretty hot right now.”

Middle Tennessee Player Quotes

Senior Tailback Eugene Gross:

On the team’s outlook following their loss:
“We didn’t play our best football today. We made mistakes and allowed the other team to make some big plays. It was a non-conference game, and we have a very important game coming up next week against Troy State for the conference championship.”

Junior Free Safety Damon Nickson:

On the team’s overall performance:
“I don’t think that we played a good game; we could have improved offensively and defensively. Good teams make you pay for your mistakes and that’s what South Carolina did today.”

On MTSU’s biggest challenge against South Carolina:
“They converted on third down too much. We couldn’t make them punt, and I think that is what really hurt us on defense.”

Junior Center Bradley Robinson:

On the team’s upcoming championship game:
“We have one game left and everyone is going in there with one mindset, to win a championship. At the end of our team meeting we had a speech about how the seniors need to step it up, and everyone needs to step it up. We are just going to out there and try to win it.”