SEC Media Days: Year Three in SC for HBC

HOOVER, Ala. -- After a pair of five loss seasons at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier thinks he has the talent, depth and experience to make a run at the SEC Eastern Division Title this fall. The Head Ball Coach has good reason for his optimism.

His Gamecocks may have lost five games last year, but four of those losses were by a touchdown or less, including a heartbreaking 17-16 loss in Gainesville when the Gators blocked three kicks. Carolina was more competitive last year and finished strongly with wins over Clemson and Houston. It's created unparalleled optimism in the Palmetto State as Spurrier told the radio boys here in Birmingham.

"We feel like we have a better chance this year at South Carolina," Spurrier said. "We feel like the talent level is the best it's been in three years. We feel like we can certainly compete with our SEC competitors ad we're gonna try and show it this year. We feel like we have a team that if the ball bounces our way a little bit and we play and coach well, we'll have a chance to compete for the SEC."

Spurrier took over South Carolina after the Gamecocks had gone three straight years without earning a bowl bid. He admits his first two Carolina squads had to have much more modest goals.

"This is the first year that we've talked about that (winning the SEC)," he said. "The first two years we simply felt like if we won more than we lost and won a bowl game that would be pretty doggone good. But we're at the level now that we think we have the talent to compete for the SEC Championship. I'm not saying we're gonna win it. I'm sure Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all three of those teams and their players feel the same way. Anyway it's a little different atmosphere, a little different approach we're going in with this year than those first two."

And Spurrier talked about how much more competitive the SEC Eastern Division appears to be from top to bottom compared with years past.

"Tennessee, Georgia and Florida are always ranked ahead of us, and actually Kentucky (4-4) finished higher in the conference than we did (3-5) last year. The only thing we've proven is we can play some close games. We haven't proven we can beat the top teams, but I'm looking forward to seeing if we can do it this year."

I don't think there's any question the SEC Eastern Division is going to be incredibly difficult this year. In fact, I'm convinced that 6-2 will be a good enough record to win at least a share of the title and perhaps win a team a spot in Atlanta. Carolina will get to show in September whether or not they are going to be contenders with games at Georgia (9/8) and LSU (9/22) in the opening month of the season. I don't see how they could recover from an 0-2 start to be anything but spoilers this fall. But should the HBC come up with a pair of wins, Carolina might end its 15 year drought of never participating in the SEC Championship Game.

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