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Aug. 31, 2010

Preseason Practice Central | Buy 3-Game Mini Packs

Coach Spurrier

Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Thursday’s season opener against Southern Mississippi. The Gamecocks and Golden Eagles will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
Opening Statement
Southern Mississippi has a lot of football tradition. Their team has been good over the years. They’ve been to eight straight bowl games and haven’t had a losing record in 18 years or something like that. They have a rich tradition.

They’ve been to Alabama and beat those guys at home. They beat Florida State when Bret Favre was playing (for USM). The two times I was at Florida we squeaked by both times. This is a group of players that believe they can beat us. Their coach already said publicly that they expect to beat us. It will be a down to the wire, probably tough physical game for us. Very similar to a lot of our conference games this will be. We’ll find out what kind of team we are early and go from there. I hope we’ll improve from the first game to the second game and throughout the season, but that’s where we are right now.

They have a veteran quarterback in Austin Davis. They play another quarterback, Martevious Young, who is an athletic type player and excellent runner. They have a big time receive who is 6’6, DeAndre Brown, who had big years there. We’ll have our hands full and we’re looking forward to Thursday night. Hopefully our fans will make it difficult for Southern Miss, be loud and screaming and help us in that regard.

On playing the Thursday night ESPN season opening game
We’ve been fortunate that ESPN has put us on five of six years I’ve been here. It’s a thrill for our players to play the first game of the year. The Southern miss coach has talked about what a tremendous opportunity it is for his team to showcase (their) talents on national television in the first game of the year. It’s a tremendous opportunity. We’ve been fortunate in our openers on Thursday night. Hopefully it will continue this Thursday.

On team expectations
Our expectations are to play very well. We’ll have goals we go over, but we don’t put them out publicly. That’s within our team. The object is to play a tough, physical game with discipline, to play smart and play to the best of our ability Thursday night. Whatever other goals we have we’ll keep within the team, but we expect to have a successful season.

On the Southern Miss defense
I don’t know a lot about their team. We’ve just seen them on tape this summer. They’re defense was pretty good last year. They think it will be stronger since they return everyone. They talk about defensive line being the strength of their team. You have to play the games to find out where we all are at this time. They’re coming in here with a lot of confidence, and they believe they’ll have an outstanding season. They’re talking about winning their conference championship, so that’s the type of team we’re playing Thursday night.

On Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw
They’re doing OK. They’re both scheduled to play. We’re not quite as set on offense as we are on defense, although we may have injuries on our defensive team (that may) keep players out. Stephen did fine (in practice) and Connor’s doing well. They’ll both play. We’ll go from there.

On playing the run vs. the pass
We hope to run the ball very well as all teams do. We believe our offensive line is going to play well at this time, and our quarterbacks will play well. We’re not good enough to stand back and throw it 40 to 50 times. There’s too many blitzes, too many schemes; you can’t protect the quarterback that well. We expect Marcus Lattimore to be in the game early. If he doesn’t start he’ll be in early. He’ll have lots of opportunities we hope. We need to mix the pass with the run. We feel like we have outstanding receivers, so you hope to do them both well.

On if he personally knows who will start at certain positions
We probably have an idea who’s going to start. I generally always play the older guys first unless something happens right before the game. We have a couple of days to see if someone sprains an ankle or something before we send one out there. Usually if the older guys play well in preseason, we go with them to start the game. How long they’ll be in there, I don’t know.

On Connor Shaw
He was here all spring practice. He was here all summer. He’s still a freshman. We believe he’ll be a lot better next year and so forth, but he’s done a lot in the short time he’s been here. He knows the offense very well. Just like Marcus Lattimore, he knows the offense very well. Some guys are fast learners and some guys really want to learn. Other guys aren’t fast learns and don’t understand the importance of knowledge in knowing this game.

On the offensive line depth
We’re not very deep in the offense line especially. We need all five guys to stay healthy. Our backups are two freshmen and a junior college transfer who doesn’t know his assignments all that well. We’re thin in the O-Line. We don’t need any injuries there especially. Other places we’re in pretty good shape.

On Connor Shaw being a coach’s son
There is a little difference in a coach’s kid because they grow up around football all the time. Connor is just a young man whose life is about family, football and his faith. While he’s in school, football and going to class are about it for him.

On playing two quarterbacks
They’ll both play in the first half. We want that to happen and we’ll go from there. We don’t want to rotate series. Getting back to the two quarterbacks, of the eight conference championships I’ve been fortunate to coach, (in) four of those eight we used two quarterbacks throughout the course of the season.

On Spencer Lanning
It’s important that we play more of a tough, physical, smart game. We’ve done that at times around here, just not consistently. We have an excellent group of leaders. Spencer Lanning may be one of the toughest kickers you’ll ever see. In the weight room, he’s one of the best lifters Coach Fitz has said. He’s kicked beautifully. He’s at the top of his game right now. Hopefully he didn’t peak in preseason, but he makes virtually everything in practice each day.

On if the offense can match the number he put up as Florida coach
It’s a little different. You look at those statistics and its going to be tough for us to lead the conference in offense anytime soon because of our schedule. We don’t have those games like we used to have at Florida. We don’t have anyone on our schedule that we can roll up 600 or 700 yards.

On Alshon Jeffery
Alshon has a good work ethic. I’ve had many (in the past) that are just as good. You don’t become a truly great college football player without it. Alshon is an improved receiver from last year. Physically he’s in a lot better shape than last year.

On Coach Shawn Elliott
If (the offensive line) performs well he’ll get all the credit. Shawn is an excellent coach. I’m really impressed with how he handles his players and the enthusiasm he comes to practice everyday with. We have some players with a little experience. I’m not sure about our right guard position. It’s a little questionable. Other than that, Jarriel King and Kyle Nunn and Hutch Eckerson have been here awhile. Garrett Chisolm and TJ Johnson have played a bit, so we should be ready to play.