S.O.S. Gets Much Needed Opening Win

It's year six for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina and his Gamecocks team for the first time has the most returning starters and most experienced quarterback in the SEC Eastern Division. After five mediocre (35-28) seasons in Columbia, Spurrier was quite vocal this summer about the need for his Gamecocks to win and win big.

So far, so good.

The Gamecocks got a strong performance from much maligned quarterback Stephen Garcia and a solid effort from its defense in dominating mistake plagued Southern Miss 41-13 at Williams-Bryce Stadium. It's not that a one-sided win over Larry Fedora's Golden Eagles means a lot, it doesn't. It's just that a loss Thursday night would have been devastating to Carolina.

It was a win Spurrier and Garcia both desperately needed. Garcia had been challenged by his coach to make better decisions and be more productive or see freshman Connor Shaw take more and more snaps this fall. He responded by delivering a mistake-free game completing 16-of-23 passes for 193 without an interception while running for 38 yards and two scores. That strengthens his hold on the No. 1 job, but you have to wonder for how long.

As for Spurrier he has found building a contender at Carolina has been much more difficult and time consuming than he ever imagined. The man who dominated the SEC for a dozen years enters his sixth season with the Gamecocks with a losing record (18-22) in SEC play. He is determined to get his team to Atlanta, despite a tough schedule that features three of the top four teams in the SEC West in Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas. That road begins in earnest next week when the Georgia Bulldogs come to town, but for now, Carolina can feel a little bit better about being a factor in the East. desperately We'll see if that's still true 10 days from now.


Georgia plays Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday so that gives Spurrier and company an extra couple of days for preparation. Last year the Bulldogs won a 41-37 score-fest in Athens. Carolina will have to prepare to deal with a dramatic upgrade on both the offensive and defensive lines from what they saw from Southern Miss.


Spurrier couldn't have been happy with a play by cornerback Stephon Gilmore late in the game. Gilmore dove at the legs of Southern Miss receiver Quinton Pierce on a ball that was well overthrown. Pierce was injured on the play and one has to hope it's not too serious, but there was no excuse for that play, none.


If you are wondering about the Gators playing a Thursday night game don't worry about it. It's not happening. The SEC TV contracts give schools NO control over game times, but schools do control what day of the week they play. No game can be played on Thursday night unless both teams agree to it. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley assures me the Gators will not be doing what Carolina did this (Thursday) evening.

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