USC vs. Furman: Storylines

It'll be a Palmetto State showdown of a different variety on Saturday night when the Furman Paladins come to Columbia to take on South Carolina. For the Gamecocks, it'll be a chance to tune up for a road trip to Auburn the following week, while Furman will have the opportunity to pull the shocking upset.


Avoiding the upset

We are just weeks into this young football season, but already there have been some shocking upsets, including one in the SEC. In the first week of the season it was the Ole Miss Rebels falling to another set of Gamecocks, the ones from Jacksonville State, 49-48 in double overtime. Although that was startling, it perhaps paled in comparison to Virginia Tech's home loss to James Madison last week, just one game after falling in a hard fought contest against Boise State in Washington, D.C.

Several years ago, all of college football was shocked when Appalachian State downed Michigan in the big house, a coaching staff that new offensive line coach Shawn Elliot was a part of.

For South Carolina, they will have to play tough once again despite the fact they are facing a Furman team from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Paladins will be motivated not only by the "David vs. Goliath" factor, but will also defend their pride in facing a home state opponent. However, USC will look to flex their muscle as they prepare to dive into the meat of an always difficult SEC schedule.

"We know we barely got by Wofford twice when we played them," said Spurrier. "South Carolina State played us very close until about the middle of the third quarter last year. We hit some balls on them. Of course, that was the only game they lost. They were a very good team. No, Furman, like I said, they've probably been pointing to this game all year. This is their chance for an upset. They're going to give it their best shot. We've got to be ready for anything – onside kicks, fake punts, whatever. We've got to be ready for it. When you're an underdog like they are, you've got nothing to lose."

With the game kicking off at 7 p.m. and not being televised other than on a pay-per-view basis, it's safe to say that very few outside of South Carolina will see the game as it's played. But if they lose, people all around the nation will witness the highlights as another giant falls.

"We know it can happen. We know it does happen," added Spurrier. "Shawn Elliott, our line coach, was of course with Appalachian State. That was, I guess, considered the biggest upset at that time, some people said in college football history, when App State went and beat Michigan. We know it can happen. We'll be ready to play this week."

Lattimore looks to continue good work

The talent of Marcus Lattimore was on full display last Saturday, as the young freshman put on a show with a national television audience watching against Georgia. Lattimore ran to the tune of 182 yards on 37 carries as he helped the Gamecocks beat UGA at home for the first time in the Spurrier era.

Lattimore has certainly earned his share of praise from analysts this week as they finally got a chance to see what the former five star recruit was all about in facing an SEC defense.

"Certainly everyone knows about him now," said Spurrier. "He's got a lot of goals. His commitment level is very good. So, we expect him to be ready to play this week. Certainly (there) was a whole bunch of schools trying to recruit Marcus. We basically told him he'd have an opportunity to (play early). It came the second game of his career here. Will we have a game where he gets that many in the future? I don't know. You can't say. You don't know how each game progresses. As long as he stays healthy, he needs to get the ball a lot."

As for Spurrier's own comparison for Mr. Lattimore? Let's just say he drew parallel to another former Florida great in what could be the highest praise he's received yet.

"I mentioned earlier his style is a lot like Emmitt Smith," said Spurrier. "Emmitt, his shoulder pads always seem to be square when he's coming through line of scrimmage. Tacklers don't get a good, clean shot at his body because his pad level is so low. Even when they're diving at his feet and ankles, he's getting his feet out of the ground when they come in there real low. That's why running backs stay healthy for so long. Emmett, I don't' think he ever had any knee surgeries or anything. He lasted a long time without injuries. I think Marcus's style will keep him healthy, I believe."

"When you have a sensational game like Marcus did last week, (those comparisons are) going to happen. He's got to handle it. We've got to handle it, not get full of ourselves and be ready to play every week. With Marcus, I think we're all smart enough to know one game doesn't make a career. really believe he'll be fired up and ready to go against Furman. It's a school pretty close to where he grew up, up there. He likes playing football. He'll be ready, along with the rest of the guys."

Spurrier praises Paladins

Furman has only played one opponent on the football field this year, but it would be safe to say that opponent came away impressed with what the Paladins were capable of. In week one, Furman pounded Colgate 45-15, and in doing so unseated the 25th-ranked team in FCS football. It was a dual-threat quarterback attack that led FU, with Cody Worley passing for 113 yards and three touchdowns, and Chris Forcier adding 130 yards on just seven rushes.

The Head Ball Coach detailed his respect for Furman in his weekly press conference, saying that they are a team with a wealth of weapons, a great tradition, and a sharp coaching staff to boot.

"Furman, we have not played them I guess in several years," said Spurrier. "It's the first time since I've been here. Those guys, they've got a rich tradition. In fact, in the winningest football programs in North and South Carolina, they're second to Appalachian State. Furman's right there. Bobby Lamb's been there several years. Those guys are well coached, do an excellent job, play hard. We need to play well to beat these guys. They're 1-0, got a couple of quarterbacks that play a bit, Cody Worley and Chris Forcier. I think he transferred from UCLA. But, anyway, we look forward to playing them here, 7 o'clock here Saturday night. Hopefully we'll have a full house, (and we'll) try to play better than we did last week."

Spreading it around

Last week could be considered the exception to the rule during Steve Spurrier's time at USC, as the game rode on the legs of a running back instead of the arm of Stephen Garcia, or any other quarterback for that matter.

In fact, only one wide receiver had more than one catch, and that was Alshon Jeffery with seven. In addition to Lattimore's talents, every team facing the Gamecocks knows the talent of Jeffery, and will work in different ways to stop both of the offensive playmakers.

But Spurrier insisted that spreading the ball around will continue to be the name of the game for USC, even with the big name talent at the top of the roster.

"Doubling up? Putting eight or nine around the line of scrimmage? Oh, certainly. Georgia did that certainly near the goal line. How do we counter it? Well, hopefully we can throw the ball. I do believe Alshon Jeffery is a big-time receiver. We've got to get the other guys involved a little bit more – Tori Gurley, Ace Sanders may play a little bit more, D.L. Moore's a good receiver. We've got to get better throwing the ball. We're not a real good passing team. We'll try to work on everything this week, passing and running."

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