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Jan. 8, 2008


Head Coach Steve Spurrier

“First, I would like to congratulate LSU for winning the national championship last night. I know their players and coaches are thrilled. I believe the SEC went 7-2 in the bowl series. Once again the SEC has proved its strengths. This is the conference we play in and so it’s a challenge for us. The way we ended last year was disappointing. Yes we didn’t make it to a bowl game but we are not discouraged. We still have a chance. We will learn from it and hopefully, the changes in our coaching staff will help us in the future.”

“We are excited that Jasper Brinkley and Kenny McKinley are coming back. This is the first time in the three years that I have been here that two players had the chance to go to the NFL early that have decided to stay. These two men want to stay and graduate and will be two key players in our success next year.”

“First we have Ray Rychleski, he comes to us from Maryland. He has been with Maryland for seven years and Wake Forest prior to that. He is the new Special Teams coach; he will run all special teams. I was able to look at his resume and he has a very good track record. He is an excellent addition to our coaching staff. Then we have our new Defensive Coordinator, Brian VanGorder. He most recently spent four years at Georgia, and Georgia Southern a year. So hopefully he is ready to settle down. I really believe that both Ray and Brian are the two best guys I could hire. I really didn’t know these guys too much until we were out looking for new football coaches. With their track records and the kind of guys they are, is the reason why I hired them. I think Brian will bring some good solid, physical, fundamental play, which is something that will help us next season.”

“Our staff has been here three years now. Statistically we haven’t been all that great defensively. Offensively we haven’t been that good either. Offensively we’re going to do some things differently. We have a kid, Stephen Garcia, that can run with it. Hopefully Chris Smelley can run with it a little too. The year we were good offensively – the middle year – Syvelle Newton was back there and ran with it.”

Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder

“I have to be honest, when I first put the film on I was a little nervous and uptight about what I was expecting to see. After watching the film I see a group of guys that at times play very good football. Physically and athletically they’re a group that shows that they’re capable of shutting down an SEC offense. My impression was just a mark of inconsistency. That will be an area that we will have to pay attention to.”

“Jasper Brinkley brings a maturity. He certainly shares high standards and expectations, which is what you always want from a leader. I really look forward to working with him.”

“Each year as an coach you’re always learning and looking to learn. My years in college football, we were always trying to get to an NFL camp or tried to get to another campus to find out what people were doing. You’re always trying to get better and certainly the NFL experience is one that is always like you’re coaching two seasons. It’s been good for me professionally.”

On what he saw from 2007 film
“I thought we played hard and we played fast. There were times that we were a little bit inconsistent and gave up some explosive plays. It was just a couple of games against the run, otherwise we were pretty solid. It’s just a mark of consistency that we want to work for.”

On what he brings as a coach
“I’ll bring enthusiasm and a mark of intensity each and everyday at practice. I consider myself a fundamentalist. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about overall scheme because football is about being able to take scheme and adapt, especially at the college game because you get so many offenses each week. The scheme itself has to fall within the system, but I want to be fundamental. We have to tackle well and do those things each week from a tactic standpoint.”

On having a player like David Pollack at Georgia
“It’s hard to say that. David Pollack was so unique in the game. I will say that what he did have that I think you do have to have is that he had a standard of expectation that was different. A lot of times as coaches we have those players that they go back to the locker room and you don’t know what they’re talking about. He was a guy that was always on the same page as coaches as far as expectations go…I think Jasper Brinkley is one of those guys. I’ve met with Eric Norwood and he’s one of those high production guys.”

On coming to South Carolina
“What stood out to me was the excitement on game day. I thought the fan base was tremendous. There’s certain electricity in the stadium that was really special. I think about the games between when I was at Georgia (against) South Carolina, we had tough games. I was impressed with the intensity of South Carolina. I was very aware of the situation when Coach Spurrier arrived and I admired what’s happened here the last couple of years. I like this area of the country. It’s in the SEC and there’s a chance to work with Coach.”

Special Teams Coach Ray Rychleski

“Let me start by saying that when I was in the ACC at Maryland, we were in the fourth largest media market in the country. I know that for a fact because we used to tell the recruits that. I’ve never seen more people at a press conference on January 8, and we were winning 10-plus games a year early on. It’s a credit to you all and that’s why I’m excited to be here. It’s amazing to me and I’m overwhelmed.”

“I’m excited about the kicker (Ryan) Succop. He’s a senior and has a lot of talent. He does all three. I don’t like that all the time. You like to have to share the duties. There are guys on the team that can hopefully take one of those jobs, but the best players play. Special teams are all about specialists. You can have 10 great blockers and one lousy returner and have a lousy return game. You can have 10 average guys and one great returner and be pretty darn good.”

On what needs to improve
“That’s an easy question quite honestly. The punt team needs to be addressed. You just want to get better. You don’t want to get beat. Coach said let’s win a game on special teams next year, but first off let’s not lose one.”

“My one saying is fundamentals over gimmicks. Let’s be sound fundamentally. On offense I love to run reverses and trick plays because you get 70 plays a game. You might only punt the ball five times a game, so those five times lets be fundamentally sound. (At Maryland) We were seven years in a punting formation with gunners on the side. We never changed that for seven years. We never brought the gunners in, never brought the gunners over, we never changed the formation for seven years.”

“Punt team is first, kickoff coverage is second. Right now kicking off from the 30 yard line, you might say kickoff is just as important as punts unless you have a guy that can kick it out of the end zone.”

On stance against using rugby style punts
“Once he takes off he’s free game. Now you have a chance to knock the crap out of him legally. Now all of a sudden it’s a low kick. At Maryland we had a guy that was 6-8 and we made it tough for them (trying rugby style punts). Florida State would do that. They did it against us and shanked it for a 10-yard punt. That’s a big play when you only punt for 10 yards, so we try to solve those problems.”

On using starters on special teams
“General rule of thumb is a starter on offense or defense will be on no more than two special teams of the four. Now, the best players play, (but) just because you’re the best linebacker doesn’t mean you’re the best (for special teams).”

On Shane Beamer
“Hopefully he’ll be (involved). I’m hoping he’ll be a big part of this. He was a long snapper in college. I know Shane a little bit when he was a GA at Tennessee…I need him to be honest with you. We didn’t have a long conversation because he was at the coaches convention, but I think he’s really excited about being a part (of special teams).”

“Punt return the most important thing is you have to be able to catch it first, but you have to be able to trust who you’re blocking for. Guys block a little bit longer if they know they have a guy that can take it to the house.”