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Oct. 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday’s SEC home match up against Tennessee. The Gamecocks and Volunteers will kick off at 12 p.m. on ESPN.

Opening Statement
It feels good to get back home. We’re home for three straight. One of our goals is to win all the home games. We’re still in the position to achieve that if we can regroup a bit, start playing smart and start playing up to our potential. Tennessee is a good team that’s lost four games, I think to all ranked opponents. Their offensive has been very good. Their defense has struggled a little bit. They’re going to come in here and throw it around probably as well as anybody we’ve played. They’ve got a good running game also. They’ve made yards against everybody they’ve played. Even Alabama last week, but it didn’t work out for them.

We voted for captains yesterday. The guys voted. On defense – Shaq Wilson and D.J. Swearinger. On offense – T.J. Johnson, Justice Cunningham and Marcus Lattimore. Five captains on the team this year. Hopefully our captains and our seniors are ready to turn this season back into a positive this Saturday. I know our fans are fired up and ready to come. We haven’t performed well the last couple weeks. We need to regroup and get this season back rolling the way we had it going a couple weeks ago. We’re looking forward to playing Tennessee, which is a pretty good rivalry for South Carolina the times I’ve been here. I know prior to that they’ve beaten us a whole bunch. We’re pretty even with them right now, so hopefully we’ll stay ahead.

All of our guys are pretty much healthy. Connor Shaw is healthy. We need him to play well. We need Marcus Lattimore to run the ball more. Our formula for winning hasn’t occurred much the last few weeks. We know what it is. We will hope and try our best to get back to that. We’re looking forward to a noon kickoff. I know our fans are too.

On the offensive woes…
We just haven’t performed very well. We hope to perform better. Like I said we know Marcus needs to run more. We are going to try our best to get it to him ore. Stay on the field for first downs. We know we can’t run him every play, but we know how our wins have occurred in the past and we’re going to try to get back there.

On playing on big games away from home…
The Swamp and Death Valley are two difficult places. Fumbled it away in The Swamp. We fumbled away any chance we had. Whether or not we had a good chance, we’ll never know. The other one, we had some chances, but it didn’t work out. Those two teams are 14-1 and top-10 in the country. We’ve got to accept that we aren’t going to win the SEC this year. We’ve accepted that. We’ve got plenty of other goals out there. What we’re trying to do now is win all our home games. Only two or maybe three other teams have, so we’re shooting for that. We’re shooting for the third straight over Tennessee, that hasn’t happened.

On the schedule…
My old coach Pepper Rodgers, who was for Missouri game, would always say that coaches are as good as your players and your schedule. Your players and your schedule. In the SEC it’s not all fair. It’s really not fair that Tennessee has to play Alabama every year. I’m just telling you the way it is. On the other side, LSU played Florida and us. Alabama isn’t playing either one of us. For whatever reason that’s how we do it. Not everybody plays the same schedule in the SEC. I think the only conference that now is the Big 12. They don’t have divisions and they don’t have a championship game. They will have a realistic champion since they all play each other. That’s the way we do it. We accept that fact. We could have overcome it. Florida has overcome playing Texas A&M and LSU. That’s the way it is. We weren’t quite good enough. We’ll never know at Florida. Our defense played well and held them to under 200 yards. Fumbles and so forth really took away any chance.

On facing Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson…
He’s a good player. He came out of junior college. I don’t know how much we recruited him to tell you the truth. Not too much. What we’ve got to be concerned about is kick off coverage and punt coverage on special teams. He’s an excellent return guy and receiver. They’re going to throw it around. They’re defense is going to be ready. We’ve got to play much better if we’re going to have a chance to beat these guys.

On the three top-10 matchups in a row…
Hopefully we’ve got the senior leadership and captains that will get the guys ready to play. I guess it was a tough stretch. If we were strong enough tough enough, and mentally tough enough we could have handled it. We just didn’t handle it as well as we hoped.

On Connor Shaw
Certainly he hasn’t performed as well as he was earlier in the year. We don’t have all the reasons for it. We’ve had games we’ve attempted to pass more than we intended to. This is his game. If he skunks it up the first half, he’s going to skunk it up the second half. This is his game. Dylan was sick yesterday and didn’t show up. I’m sure he’ll be okay by the weekend. We’ll try to play to Connor’s strengths and give him the opportunity to be successful.

On home field advantage…
We’re playing better at home now. It might have been because of where we went. We didn’t play well at Vandy. Florida didn’t play well at Vandy. Vandy played them tough like they play everybody tough. They’re a pretty good team. They’re going to start winning some of those close ones soon, hopefully not against us. Something to the home field advantage that’s kicking back in around the SEC. I know one time they did some studies that suggested that big teams win wherever they play. It seems like lately it’s kicked in a little bit more.

On mixing the run and the pass…
Last week we got behind early. It looked like we had to throw it to get back in the game, that’s why we went with Dylan. We wanted to see if he could throw it around a little bit and see what would happen. We hope to mix it up. We need to get Connor some protection if we can. We know we have to run the ball better than we have been to win.

On Marcus Lattimore’s health…
I think he’s okay now. He was probably pretty close to 100% last Saturday. Fumbles got us behind. We thought it would be smart to rest him for another day. Rest him for the next battle. He should be ready.

On motivating the team after falling out of the SEC race…
That’s just one of our goals. We thought we had a shot at. I was listening to one of the Duke kids and they have a goal to win the ACC. They’re leading their division. They’ve got hopes that they will win their division and play in Charlotte for the ACC Championship. So, you’ve always got hope. When it’s gone, you say we’ve got the next goal and start moving on. As a coach, I like to set eight to 10 goals for a season and see how many we can hit.