Sept. 29, 2007
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
“We can finally say special teams won a game now. Kenny McKinley made a beautiful play, had a super game. Smelley had one careless throw, but played OK. [Our] protection was good. The line played good. Mississippi State played tough.
“It was fun, a good game to win for us. To be behind in the third quarter, to keep playing, that was sort of neat. [We’re] glad to beat those guys, get another conference win.
“After the block, it turned around. Mike (Davis) got a game ball with three touchdown runs. He is good around the goal line.
“Coach Nix called a super game. Instead of eight, we got nine up there in the third quarter, forced some punts.
“(Boyd) tweaked his knee. It caught in the ground, but he was able to walk it off. He will be sore tomorrow. He came back and made some nice plays for us.
“We finally hit a few passes down the field. We could hit a few more. We’re not nearly as good as our potential can be, but Kenny McKinley fortunately got in some spots to make some catches.
“It was good to make 400 yards. We ran as much as we threw, as it ended up.”
On the play of Chris Smelley
“The interception was his only bad play. He was rolling out of the pocket.
“The defense forced seven punts. We only had four. Nine third-down conversions, that was the reason we were able to do something.”
On Eric Norwood
“Eric is one of our best players. That’s why we’ve got him on punt block. We’ve got to put our best players in to make plays. He got a game ball.”
On the blocked punt
“It was one of big plays in the game. The next play to Kenny was a quick turnaround. From there, it was pretty good sailing for us.
“Our defensive kids are well coached. They can play defense. We can play the pass. We’ve got to stop the run, but we can’t keep giving opportunities.
“Offensively, we really hit some down the field. Our protection was not super early, but we got better. We got a lot more yards than we got last year. I thought Seaver [Brown] and James Thompson held up well. There were no glaring whiffs up front. They had pretty good pressure overall. They’ve got a pretty good defense. Chris took care of the ball well. That was encouraging for us. We have to continue to improve, to find some guys that love to play, that love to compete.
“Kentucky obviously is one of the best offensive teams in the conference. That will be a fun game, one of the biggest we’ve had it in a while. We’re trying to maximize this season. We’ll play good players, it doesn’t matter whether they are first year or fourth year. We’re trying to win a championship.”
USC QB Chris Smelley
“I felt good the whole time. I have been practicing for weeks. I was comfortable the whole time. I don’t worry, I can’t think about mistakes and play quarterback.
“I managed the game well. I had to make changes. I felt like I was in control and a leader out there
Mississippi State has good defense. We got behind, but we never stopped battling. Offense got clicking and put some points on the board.”
USC FS Darian Stewart
“The win felt real good. The first half we didn’t play well but the second we came out and did what we usually do.”
USC SS Emanuel Cook
“We needed to step it up. Everyone was trying to take leadership. We felt like we needed to step it up in the second half and we did. We have to step it up every week for four quarters now.”
USC TB Mike Davis
It was a big win, like every game. We needed momentum going into the other games.
USC LB Marvin Sapp
“This is an SEC game. We must win. It is another step in our path.
This is my role. It is my time for me to show the coaches that I can play this position.”
MSU Head Coach Sylvester Croom
“I just want to congratulate South Carolina on the win. They fought hard. They deserved it. Today we missed a great opportunity. We didn’t play with the discipline I expected us to play with. We had far too many penalties. We had a blocked punt. We didn’t tackle well. All things that we work on extensively. Things that we have done well at times this season, but we didn’t do them well today. Not to discredit anything from South Carolina, but I thought we hurt ourselves tremendously.
“The blocked punt changed everything. At that point the stadium was real quiet, I felt like at that point it felt like we had the upper hand down there on the field, and that changed everything. The people in the stands woke up, their players got some extra juice and the tides really turned on us at that point.
“The fourth and one was another situation. If you can’t get fourth and one, you’re going to get beat, and you don’t deserve to win. They did what they had to do to win, and they deserve it.
“We weren’t surprised by anything they did today. We didn’t play our zone coverages well today. We had guys that were undisciplined in our coverages. We didn’t tackle as well as we normally tackle. Like I told the players, the penalties, poor tackling, poor zone coverage, those are things that are correctable. If they weren’t correctable, I’d be really worried.
“We’re an aggressive defense and our guys played hard, but sometimes we don’t play as smart as we should.”
On the blocked punt
“There’s no question that was the change in the ballgame right there. There was one play and that play turned it. The blocked punt put us out of everything then. There was an energy that seemed to go down that sideline that they did not have before that.”
MSU P Blake McAdams
On blocked punt
“What I heard happened was their guy (Norwood) came around from the left side to get the center. I had a sense he was there, but when it snaps, all I can see is the ball.”
On the change of the game
“Any time a punt is blocked in a game, whether you’re up or down a lot, it’s a big momentum change. It’s hard to come back from.”
On the best day in his career
“Yeah, I had a good day. Good warm-ups, good half time. Even that (the blocked) punt felt like a good one. South Carolina teamed up on us found what we do well and don’t do well.”
MSU RB Anthony Dixon
“We need to step up and make more plays. We came down field and then South Carolina came back out with more motivation; coming back with pride.”
Overcoming the block
“Mentally, we have to get over it. We have to be football players and get our heads back in the game. It definitely brought a change around to the game and our playing.”