FG Subscribers Get Answers from the Gamecocks

Gamecock Anthem publisher Adam Garrett was kind enough to answer several questions from Fightin' Gator subscribers about this version of the University of South Carolina football program. The Gamecocks and Gators square off in The Swamp on Saturday in a match up of two top ten teams and a lot is on the line in the game.

Here are the questions and answers courtesy of your FOX Sports Next home for Gator sports.

Q. How has Coach Spurrier changed the culture surrounding South Carolina football in terms of direction, philosophy, and mentality? Furthermore, Coach Spurrier is 67 years old does the fan base and athletics department feel they will be able to maintain the excellence he has brought to them once he retires which to be honest is probably not too far off?
Adam Garrett: "Steve Spurrier came in with the mindset that you can win at South Carolina and he's certainly helped change the fans' perception of their own program. Before, South Carolina fans would have been excited to have a close loss to a top program and take home the "moral victory." Now, the fan base expects to go into every game thinking, and expecting, they can win. The program has seen increased spending in facility upgrades with the new student-athlete academic center, the new video board at Williams-Brice and the new tailgating area in the old Farmer's Market across the street. Spurrier said to be the best in the SEC, you've got to spend money with the best. It's one of the main reasons South Carolina is able to compete with the top programs because these increases help show that this school is serious about becoming a major threat in the SEC.

There is a feeling that success will continue once Steve Spurrier retires from the Gamecocks in four to five years. He's proven that this can be a winning program and the changes he has made so far has shown those outside the program that this can be a place to be. This job is way more attractive now than what it once was before Spurrier got here. Facilities, better recruiting and a supportive fan base and university have all improved under Spurrier and should continue on to whoever becomes the next head coach at South Carolina.

Q. How is your depth across the D-Line and O-Line? How many people get playing time at each position during the games?
Adam Garrett: "The depth across both the offensive line and defensive line is relatively solid. On the defensive line, the obvious stars are Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor at the ends but backup defensive end Chaz Sutton has really come on this year thanks to the ‘rabbit' package in place for the Gamecocks. Those three, along with Aldrick Fordham, make up four defensive ends on the field at one time in passing situations to help increase the pass rush on the opposing offense. At defensive tackle, the Gamecocks have two solid performers starting in Kelcy Quarles and Byron Jerideau. Both have played well this season but are nursing a few injuries. Backups there include J.T. Surratt, Gerald Dixon Jr. and Phillip Dukes."

"On the offensive side of the ball, South Carolina has some younger, but experienced offensive lineman this year. The Gamecocks front five includes a freshman and two sophomores in the starting lineup with two freshmen and two sophomores on the two deep. The tackles, Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell, are both massive lineman weighing over 330 pounds. Robinson stands 6-foot-8 while Shell is 6-foot-6. They have both played well in the past few weeks. The anchor of the line is T.J. Johnson at the center position. He is currently tied for the most starts in school history with 40 in his career and guards A.J. Cann and Ronald Patrick have started several games in their careers as well. Backups Mike Matulis and Cody Gibson both have started at one point this year for the Gamecocks."

"The majority of the linemen mentioned, offense and defense, rotate in and out for the Gamecocks throughout the game depending upon the play and situations presented at the time."

Q. Any new injuries here after LSU?
Adam Garrett: "The newest injuries for the Gamecocks are mainly along the defensive tackle front. Kelcy Quarles has a sprained shoulder and Coach Spurrier said on Wednesday that is "very doubtful" to play this weekend against Florida. Byron Jerideau and J.T. Surratt are both nursing sprained ankles and could miss some time this weekend. Jerideau will likely play but they'll take a wait-and-see approach for Surratt this week to determine whether or not he'll be able to play against Florida. Coach Spurrier also mentioned that a flu bug has gone around this week within the team but its not expected to keep any players out."

Q. How did the line of scrimmage players fare against LSU's by the end of the game?
Adam Garrett: "South Carolina's defensive line got man-handled by the LSU offense. The line for LSU was missing several starters yet managed to run at will on the Gamecocks front group to the tune of 258 yards. It was surprising how ineffective they were up front getting push on LSU after shutting down their opponents to an average of 84 yards per game heading into LSU.

"The offensive line for South Carolina didn't perform much better as Lattimore and Shaw had little running room on LSU's talented front four. The Gamecocks basically had nowhere to go throughout the game on the ground and it caused some offensive struggles for South Carolina."

Q. Do you have wildcat type packages either with direct snaps to Lattimore or another Quarterback?
Adam Garrett: "South Carolina does have a "Wildcat" package in its playbook but has yet to use it this year. The individual who would line up at the quarterback position in the formation would be wide receiver Bruce Ellington. Ellington is a dynamic playmaker who has the speed and quickness to get to the outside but can also throw the ball on occasion. He played quarterback in high school and took some snaps last year in the formation. If the right situation calls for it, you could definitely see it for the Gamecocks."

Q. Who would win a bar room brawl between Spurs and the writer Ron Morris he has been tangling with?
Adam Garrett: "Great question! I'd have to give the edge to the Head Ball Coach. I know he works out pretty regularly and is in great shape for a 67-year old. I don't think Spurrier is too pleased with Morris these days so I'm sure he'd be up for a brawl with him one of these days. My recommendation is a cage match. I'll see if I can work that out!"

Q. Do the Gamecocks have any significant injuries?
Adam Garrett: "I mentioned the injuries above to Quarles, Surratt and Jerideau. The most significant injuries occurred before the season in freshman cornerback Rico McWilliams and running backs Shon Carson and Brandon Wilds. McWilliams tore a knee ligament in the second week of practice while Carson broke his wrist and Wilds has suffered from a high ankle sprain. McWilliams is out for the year and Carson is likely out for the year and missing basically all of 2011 with an injury. Wilds has been close to returning from injury in recent weeks but the plans appears to be to redshirt him this season since he played last year as a true freshman."

Q. Do you think Marcus Lattimore has made a 100% recovery from his ACL injury? He appears to be slightly less explosive this year.
Adam Garrett: "I think Lattimore is basically 100% at this point. It may appear that he's not quite the same back as he was before the injury but he has worked himself into great shape and has played well when the Gamecocks absolutely needed him to. Against Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Kentucky, Lattimore ran for over 100 yards and has showcased some of his more power running style on several instances. He picked up a big first down on a 2-3 yard run when he was basically surrounded by the LSU defense last week. Coach Spurrier has called it one of the greatest short yard runs he's ever seen.

"He'll be crucial going forward for South Carolina especially in this weekend's game. South Carolina needs a strong performance from him this weekend and will need him to carry the ball at least 20 times to have a chance against Florida."

Q. How do you limit Clowney's effectiveness?
Adam Garrett: "You hope the bus he's on breaks down on the way to the stadium! Seriously, he's a tough matchup for any offense given his size and speed off the end. Throwing in an extra blocker for the double-team seems to be a great start. You also try to design plays that go the opposite direction of where Clowney is lined up on defense. There will be times he'll switch inside and bring the rush up the middle so you have to account for him at all times. I think maintaining substantial drives on offense will tire the Gamecocks defensive end and could also neutralize Clowney."

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