Aug 25, 2013
We’re looking forward to Thursday night, ESPN national TV game against the North Carolina Tar Heels. This team, North Carolina, used to be I guess somewhat of a rival for South Carolina. North Carolina beat us like two out of three – 34-17-4 is the overall record right now. They’ve had the upper hand on us historically. The last time we played them we were able to squeak by them 21-15 up there several years ago. This is a big game. We’re looking forward to it. We appreciate that our fans have bought about all the tickets. I believe it’s very close to a sellout. So we know that our fans will be here doing their part, screaming and yelling, and our team, our coaches and all of us are hopefully smart enough to know we better do our part because this is a good team coming in here. Last year, North Carolina was 8-4. They lost three games by 1 point, 3 points and 5 points. They easily could have been 10-2. If they were 10-2 they would be in the top 25, maybe top 15 in the country right now. They’ve done well up there. They are good on special teams and they’ve been very good on offense. They set a bunch of records. Their quarterback, (Bryn) Renner is a very good player. Defensively, they struggled a little bit last year and they had a couple of NFL first-round picks. North Carolina has always had a bunch of top players. It’s a talented bunch of guys. Their receivers are very good. The quarterback is very good. We’re going to have to get after him. Got to play sound coverage. Sometimes you never know what’s going to happen that first game. We’ve got to be ready to play, take care of the ball and do all those kind of things and give ourselves the best chance to beat North Carolina when they come in here next Thursday night.
We’ll be pretty healthy. I think most of our guys are getting well. Bruce Ellington was able to run around a little bit yesterday. Busta Anderson is still hobbled. I doubt that he’ll be back by next Thursday, but we’ll wait and see. Jerell Adams should be ok they tell me. Overall, we’re very healthy going into the first game.
ON FACING THE UP-TEMPO OFFENSE OF NORTH CAROLINA:
They try to do a little bit like Clemson. Snap it quickly and go. A lot of teams are doing that. Of course, the answer is you stop them and make them punt. The other answer is hopefully your offense can stay on the field a bit. We’ve been fortunate to do that against Clemson the last two years. But who knows what will happen this game.
ON PLAYING THURSDAY NIGHTS:
It’s always neat opening up on Thursday night – if you play well and if you win. If you don’t then it’s not very good. We’ve been fortunate. Hopefully that will continue. We know we have to be ready. We don’t have a whole bunch of preseason All-SEC guys.
ON THE GAMECOCK RECEIVERS:
A lot of these guys haven’t played much. They haven’t caught many passes. So it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. We’ve got Shamier Jeffery ready to go. Damiere Byrd, Shaq Roland, Kwinton Smith, K.J. Brent. Bruce (Ellington) ran around yesterday, so we’ll see how he does as we go through the week. There are several unknown players. We’re going to try to get a bunch of them in there. The guys that seem to catch a few balls and make a few plays will stay in there and play more.
ON SHARING TIME AT THE RUNNING BACK POSITION:
I don’t know how it will play out. We certainly hope to give Mike (Davis) a lot of runs. Brandon Wilds also and Shon Carson will get a few. We’ll see how it all works out.
ON PUTTING AN UNTESTED KICKER IN THE GAME:
Whatever the situation calls for. We’ve got to go let them play. Let them kick and see what happens.
ON THE RETURN GAME:
Victor (Hampton) has caught the ball well in punts. I think he’s scheduled first back there. Kick off returns I think he’s back there as well on those. Damiere (Byrd) is back there as well.
ON BEING RANKED ABOUT THE SAME AS THE LAST TIME WHEN FACING UNC:
We’re a better team and they’re a better team also. We got them at home, not up there. Both teams are maybe a little more settled in. It should be a heck of a game. They’re a good team.
ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE’S PASS PROTECTION:
It’s been very good when (Jadeveon) Clowney is not in there. We messed up and called a few passes when he was in there. It will be interesting to see how every teams handles Jadeveon over there. We’ve got to be smart enough if they’ve got two or three guys are waiting on him we got to get him over to the other side or up the middle or somewhere. Hopefully we’ll have a plan to move him around.
ON THE QUARTERBACK ROTATION:
There’s no short leash on anybody particularly. We’re just coming to the ballpark Thursday night with all our players ready to play. Whatever it takes to try to win the game, we’ve got to use all of them. If Connor (Shaw) gets nicked up or gets the wind knocked out of him, Dylan (Thompson) is ready to go play. It worked out almost perfectly in the Outback Bowl, how they both played very well.