Oct. 9, 2010
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
“I think that this game was meant to be. I used a line this week that I’ve never used in my life, but since our basketball team had beat the No. 1 (team) and our baseball team had done it, I said, ‘Fellas, if fate means for us to win this game Saturday then lets give it a chance. Lets give fate a chance to happen.’ Our guys played their hearts out, a lot of outstanding individual plays and we held on and got a few breaks here and there. That is the best our offense has played ever since I’ve been here without a doubt. We scored five touchdowns out of about eight real possessions. Stephen Garcia played the best he’s ever played. Alshon (Jeffery) is something else; all the guys were very good. I think it was just meant to be. Fate was on our side for us to beat the No. 1 in all three major sports in 2010. It was a good win for us, hopefully we can get ready for Kentucky next week and Tennessee and all down the line, and try and improve on this. It was an interesting game, a very interesting game, fast game as far as not a lot of changes of possession. I’m very proud of them, proud of the offensive line, they played well, very well for our team, it was a super team effort. We will take it and try and move on to the next one.
Question: “How big was it to get on top of them at the beginning?”
“It was a slow game, Alabama stayed on the field until we stayed on the field a lot there in the second half. Our defensive kids played their hearts out. Alabama is a big, strong team as you can see. But Stephen was 17-for-20, how about that against the number one defense and about every category. To score 35 on them and not have to kick a field goal is probably what we are the most proud of because if you can score touchdowns on your chances it is usually hard to lose and we were able to do that today.”
Question: “Did you see anything the last few weeks that would make you believe this was coming or possible?”
“Well, playing at home we have been pretty good in these all garnet jerseys playing at home. If we could just not beat ourselves and tackle a little bit better, I think our guys tackled a little bit better today, then we have a pretty good team. That was Stephen’s best game by far that he has played here at South Carolina.
Question on whether he is excited about the win.
“It was nice to beat the No. 1 team, there is no question about that, it is nice for the University of South Carolina, for our football program. It is nice for all the recruits that came and watched today and said ‘These South Carolina guys can play some ball’ and we did, we played some ball today, we didn’t get a bunch of fumble returns or blocked punts, we didn’t do any of that. We had to play ball today, we played till the end and looked up and we had beaten No. 1 by a couple of touchdowns.”
“Hopefully it will be something we can build on but then again if we go up to Kentucky and Vandy and get beat we will look back and say ‘Man that was a lot of fun that one night in Columbia,’ so we got to build on it, we really do, we are not a great team that we can just show up and play. We have to put in a lot of effort and smarts, and if we do that then we are a pretty good team.”
Question about how the offense came back and put together a long drive in the second half.
“They scored quickly, so it’s a seven-point game with all kinds of time left, it was anybody’s game at that point. Fortunately, Alshon caught the fade route and took it down to the six-yard line, and in three runs we got it in there with Marcus and the offensive line. That was something that we couldn’t do since I’ve been here, to run the ball into the end zone from the three-yard line against Alabama. I don’t even think I could have done that when I was coaching at Florida, from the three-yard line straight in, that’s hard to do. Coach Elliot had a lot of confidence in those guys, he said run it. Our guys blocked it super and Marcus has a way of knifing in between guys and got that last TD in there.”
“I think our guys got together and said let’s give it a little more effort and see what happens, and that was our rallying cry, ‘Let’s give fate a chance.” If fate is going to smile on South Carolina, then we have to give it a chance, and who knows, if you give fate a chance something big may happen, or if we don’t give it a chance then it is not going to happen, so we are going to try and build on this victory.”
Question on Marcus Lattimore getting it going early.
“We were trying to throw him a few here and there. Then we did our basic runs and we were able to pop a few out there. We wanted to mix it up and we only threw 20 and ran 37. That’s pretty good balance.”
Question on Alshon Jeffery
“That is a guy that you have to keep throwing at. When you get a guy that can fall forward for three or four yards, you just have to keep getting him the ball, so certainly that was in our plans. Alshon is a tremendous player and its always good to see a guy like Alshon have success and Stephon Gilmore, and all these guys that could have gone anywhere in the county and they chose to come here and play in their home state university. So hopefully a lot of home state kids will want to participate here in this atmosphere that we have at Williams-Brice. The fans were sensational today. National TV it had to have been one of the best days for our university ever, and the fans were definitely a big part of this victory.”
On Coach Spurrier’s remarks on his great performance
“I guess it couldn’t have come at a better time. The crowd was really into it, and I think we responded unbelievably well to the questions that were asked of us from everyone. It’s an unbelievable feeling, and I’m not really sure how to describe the feeling right now.”
On keeping the team focused in the second half
“I tried to keep an even keel throughout the whole game. It’s tough when we’re up 35-21 and our defense it trying to stop them. And with the crowd going crazy, it’s really hard to stay focused. But we did it. We pulled it off, and that’s what we needed to do.”
On the safety
“I should’ve caught the snap, but it was a little hard and high. TJ [Johnson] played a great game, and I should’ve had it. Once I saw the ball bounce, I wasn’t sure if there was somebody behind me and I didn’t want to fumble, so I just threw it out of the back of the end zone. I think I hit the goal post. They said that was my first incompletion of the game.”
On beating the No. 1 team in the nation
“We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks, and Coach Spurrier told us to give fate a chance. So we did. We hung in there, and we responded to every point that they scored. Every time they scored, I think the offense scored right back. I think what won the game was us responding.”
“I think the biggest play was the fake field goal that they tried to run. I think they had the momentum after the reception, and then they missed that opportunity to take advantage of it. I think that was the turning point in that game. It’s just an unbelievable feeling right now, and it’s really hard for me to answer these questions.”
On the conversation in the locker room during half time
Keep fighting and play better in the second half. Keep playing smart and try not to turn the ball over. Unfortunately we had two of those very quick, but it was a great team victory for us.
On Alshon Jeffery
“He just catches everything. I’m not dwelling on the interception. The guy knocked it out of his hands as he was coming down. It doesn’t matter anymore because he made up for it with that one-handed catch that he took 45 yards down the field. That was the game changer right there. You really can’t say enough about that kid.”
“I can’t say enough about the way the offensive line played. They were great, and they were poised throughout the whole game. They didn’t let any of [Alabama’s] blitzes confuse them. We had some quick throws in there, and I only got sacked one time, which is pretty nice considering we were playing against a defense like Alabama.”
On playing in the SEC Championship
“I talked to McElroy after the game and he said, ‘We’ll see you guys again.’ I thought that was a really nice complement from him. I think that after the loss at Auburn, all of our team goals are still out there. We just have to play this well every single week. We’ll celebrate tonight and tomorrow, but come Monday it’s all about Kentucky.”
“We devised a pretty nice game plan in the past two weeks, and this win couldn’t have come at a better time. We had a great game plan, and we executed it the best we’ve executed any game plan this year. Actually, since I’ve been here, I can’t recall the way the offense played like this.”
On how well the defensive line played
“We really played well. People talked about how dominating their (Alabama’s) offensive line was. We just wanted to accept the challenge and go out and show how dominating we are (as a defensive line).”
On how pivotal it was to bounce back after the loss at Auburn last week.
“It was a great win. We did not play that well against Auburn, but we had to put that game behind us and prepare for Alabama.”
Topic on preparing for Alabama’s offense
“We just had to play physical. They have a pretty simple offense. We knew what we had to do. Auburn was a little more confusing but Alabama plays a pretty simple offense.”
On how he feels after beating No. 1 Alabama
“I’m still dreaming it right now. It’s crazy. I don’t think that it has really sunk in yet, but it is a big win for us.”
On the preparation for this week’s game
“We had to work hard. All we had to do was complete our assignments. That fate kicked in though, it did.”
Topic on moving on to next week’s game at Kentucky
“We have to get ready for Kentucky because it is at their house. They probably think that we are going to be sitting high because we beat Alabama, but that is not going to be the case. We are going to be ready for them.”
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to South Carolina. They played a great game today. They were physical, aggressive, had a good plan. We didn’t necessarily bring our “A” game, and we dug ourselves a big hole in the first half. I was proud of our players, and the way they fought back in the game; that shows a lot of character. Everybody has a lot to learn from this experience. We have a lot of guys on our team that haven’t lost a game. If you’re a great competitor, you don’t like to lose. This is a lesson for everybody in terms about what you have to do to prepare, what it takes to play with consistency in this league.”
“I think everybody needs to remember what this feels like and make a commitment to play the best football we can play as a team. We can still control our own destiny by what we do, if we’re willing to make the commitment to do it. I believe in this team and our football players.”
“We got out-coached today too. I take full responsibility for what we didn’t do correctly. That’s what coaches do; they teach players. You need to get players to do the right things, and if we didn’t do that, that’s our fault. You don’t win football games when you don’t stop them once in the red zone. We have a lot of work to do as a team. We’ve got to make a commitment to get better, it starts with me, and we’ll certainly do that.”
On the Fake Field Goal
“We probably didn’t make a good call on the fake. That was right on the edge of (Jeremy) Shelley’s range. It gave them the momentum of the game back. We could have gotten some points right there. It may not have affected the outcome of the game though because we couldn’t stop them. Even if he caught the ball, I don’t know if he would have made a first down, he would have had to break a tackle.”
On Garcia’s play
“We got some pressure on him in the third quarter. He made some good throws on a couple third downs, and we hit him right when he threw the ball. We didn’t do a good enough job as a team in every regard. We made mental errors in pressures, mental errors in coverage. We had a couple of opportunities to play the ball and he played the ball better than we played the ball. We didn’t do a good job of affecting him with the rush.”
On South Carolina’s defense
“They didn’t really do anything we weren’t expecting. They had a good plan and did a pretty good job. They tried to take away the big plays, which they did. They jammed the box on the runs. We got sacked too many times. We got beat when we got sacked; it wasn’t that we didn’t know what they were doing.”
On falling behind early in SEC road games
“We had played pretty well on the road up until the Auburn game last year. This year’s team is different from last year’s team. I think this team needs to mature and play with more confidence. I think that has to do with poise and confidence. It’s something that we need to improve on to play better on the road. To our player’s credit, we’ve been able to come back in games. You need to get them in the first round, you can’t counterpunch them and think that you’re always going to be able to come back. It caught up to us today. South Carolina beat us. We didn’t just lose. They out-executed us, they played better than we played, with more intensity, they were physical. We had far too many mental errors. Hopefully the players will learn that it takes more than we’ve been doing to beat good teams on the road. There’s lessons to learn when you win, and there’s lessons to be learned when you don’t have success and our players need to learn that.”
Question – How bad does this one hurt?
“Well, it hurts a lot. I think everybody is very disappointed. What can we learn from it? You have to look at the glass half-full in this situation. It’s early in the season. We can still accomplish everything we want to accomplish. It’s an opportunity for everyone individually to look in the mirror and say, ‘How are we going to get back? How are we going to do better? How can we recommit ourselves to this team?’ That’s the question that every individual needs to ask themselves. If I were to guess, this team should bounce back from this. We’re going to have a lot of wins down the road. This is going to be a great learning experience.”
“Their defensive line did a great job getting hands on Mark (Ingram). We just took a lot of negative plays today. Whether it was sacks, rushes for negative yards, incompletions, or things like that. We just have to do our best to try to eliminate them.”
Question – How do you feel about their defense?
“I have a lot of respect for Ellis Johnson, their defensive coordinator. He made things really difficult for us last year. We had a great week of study. I felt like I was in command. I felt like I had good anticipation of what they were going to be doing. Unfortunately, they did such a great job. They mixed and matched coverages. They went against their tendencies a little bit. I think they were ready to play and we weren’t.”
Question – Why did you not play Alabama football?
“I don’t think guys were ready to come out here. I think guys thought they could just show up and we’d win and that’s not the case at all. We knew that South Carolina was going to be a great team and play great football.”
Question – What did you learn from this?
“You can’t just show up and win. You have to focus, practice hard, and everybody has to be on the same page. You have to be smart, play with a lot of intensity, and play Alabama football.”
Question – Your team gave up almost (100 yards) to a running back for the first time in a long time. Can you talk about that?
“He [Marcus Lattimore] is strong. I can give him that. What I like about him is he always steps forward. He was falling, but kept driving his feet and was falling forward. He just gave his best to get every yard he could get.”
Question – They had a drive in the third quarter where they converted three third downs and ended up scoring a touchdown. Can you put your finger on what went wrong there?
“We got a little comfortable on the third down. We got a little comfortable with the defense and we just thought we were going to stop them. We have to play hard on every down every time we’re out there. We just didn’t capitalize. We have to do better.”