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Oct. 6, 2009

Coach Spurrier
T.J. Johnson Spencer Lanning

Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday’s home game against Kentucky. The Gamecocks and Wildcats will kick off at 12:30 p.m. on FSN.

Opening Statement
“We’re looking forward to our fourth straight home game. Kentucky comes to town in an eastern division SEC conference game. Hopefully we can play a bit better especially on offense than we did the last game. We’ve not played super all year really, and we’re still trying to figure out who our best players are. We still have some lineup changes and so forth. We’re looking forward to playing Kentucky, a really good team. They’ve played in two straight bowl games. They happened to play Florida and Alabama the last few weeks, and that’s why they’re 0-2. They’re a very good team, and we’ve had a lot of close ones with them. I’m looking forward to another hard fought, close game against Kentucky Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. on a TV.”

On still finding the best players
“It’s going to take a while. Have to give them all a chance to play. Some are just learning the offense and defense. A lot of young guys are just learning to play. We’re not a final product team – there aren’t a lot of 4th and 5th year guys playing.”

On turnover margin
“(Stephen Garcia’s) doing some better things. We certainly hope and believe that he can continue advancing and throwing the ball more accurately here and there, but he did throw some good balls in the second half last week. That was encouraging. We need to throw some perfect passes. Receivers are running some decent routes, but that can get better. Pass protection can get better certainly … fortunately we have a really good defense and we don’t have to score every time we touch it. We’ve had one turnover per game – five turnovers. Heck we had four in the first half of a game last year so we’ve come a long way.”

On being nationally ranked
“We haven’t really talked about that much. Hopefully our players don’t read too many newspapers. Our players know from the coaches that we didn’t play near our best last game. We don’t think we’ve played our best all year yet. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, it just seems to be a struggle. Maybe that’s good for them. We’ve been pretty good in the third quarters for some reason; we’ve outscored our opponents by a bunch in the third quarter. So we have to try to be prepared to play in the first quarter this week if we can.”

On playing time
“Kentucky is a good team. This is not a `when you get ahead put some players in’ (game). We know this is going to be a good one. When I say put the players in, right now all three running backs average around 6 yards per carry. Kenny Miles will start. We thought he ran with the ball a little better maybe. We still have a lot of young guys playing. Coach Wolford has a new offensive line ready this week. That’s where we are. We don’t have a lot of established stars.”

On Garcia’s ball protection
“A lot of it is (his improvement). A lot is good fortune. He still rolls back to the right or left and throws to the inside sometimes, and he had `almost picks’, but they weren’t picks. He is taking care of the ball a little bit better. The backs are taking care of the ball, which is something Coach Jay Graham really works on and stresses. We do a ball security drill this year. We try to hold on to the ball and fall on a fumble correctly, little things like that. We should actually do more of those fundamental drills like wide receiver blocking. We’re still not a great blocking team all around.”

On Spencer Lanning
“We had confidence that Spencer would do a very good job (this year). Certainly he has. We have confidence in Lanning. He’s a solid person. He enjoys working out, and he enjoys trying to make tackles on punts. He’s a football player. He’s really a good athlete. Guys love him because he’s a committed athlete.”

On blocking
“We’re running the ball better. We’re still getting sacks. We opened the gates on Stephen two or three times where we didn’t block very well. Our protection needs to get better. But we’re running the ball pretty well.”

On his record against Kentucky
“Every game stands on its own that year. I’ve always believed that. One of the Kentucky guys asked me about that. I said obviously at Florida we’ve had the better team every time we’ve played them. Here it’s been pretty even. We’re pretty even with Kentucky. We’ve seemed to get the good turnovers and get the breaks in the close games.”

On special teams play
“We did block a field goal last week which was very important. Eric Norwood got a hand on it and preserved a 10-point lead at the time.”

On Kentucky
“They’re probably a little like us in that they’re number one goal is to have a winning season and win a bowl game. Certainly they hope one day to have a team to win the SEC like we do. Of course two years ago they beat LSU, the national champion, at their place. They have a good team.”