Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Monday afternoon to preview Thursday's season opener against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks and Commodores will kick off at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier Opening StatementWe're geting ready to go to Nashville and play Vanderbilt. Big game, conference game, SEC game on ESPN, national TV. They're really fired up in Nashville - their team, players and city. They have a lot of enthusiasm over Vanderbilt football now. Our guys realize that this is a big game for us; about the same as the Georgia or Tennessee game. Eastern division conference rivals. Hopefully we're ready to play well. I think we are. Only time will tell. The word out of Vanderbilt is they're ready to play very well. We know that. We have absolutely no excuses if we don't play well. We've had a lot of practices and we're pretty much injury-free. Akeem (Auguste) won't be able to play. Shon Carson, both those players didn't play last year but we expected them to play this year. Other than that most of our guys are ready to go. We're looking forward to it, and we'll see what happens Thursday night.
On Connor ShawConnor finished the year very strongly as we know. He's practiced well. He's played pretty well. Hopefully we'll be a better passing team, but we have to find out. We're still running the ball with Marcus (Lattimore) and Kenny Miles. Hopefully we'll get Kenny in there more than in the past. Connor, he works at it and does what you like quarterbacks to do off the field and on the field. The players have a lot of confidence in him. He's a good quarterback that we hope will turn into a really great one, an outstanding player. We'll see how it all plays out.
On Shaq RolandHe's going on the trip and should play here and there a bit. We have a lot of wide receivers that return from last year. Alshon (Jeffery) was the only one not here. Jason (Barnes) played a bit here and there. Most all of our guys are back that played a lot. Shaq is in line to play some. He's done well in the scrimmages. He's still learning here and there the offense, but he's pretty much ready to go. Hopefully he'll get in there several plays. In the scrimmages he's caught the deep ball and the intermediate routes. He can run and he can catch, we know that. It's a matter of him getting on the field. He's got a few guys in front of him. Ace Sanders, D.L. Moore and Bruce Ellington have proven to be our three best receivers. Damiere Byrd will play some also.
On Marcus Lattimore's number of carriesWe're going to try to win the game whatever it takes. Marcus is ready to carry 25 or 30 times. Again I think Kenny (Miles) is such a good back (that) he should play a bit here and there. That's where I think we need to go through the season also, but Marcus could carry 30 to 40 if we needed to. Hopefully we'll have more balance and not quite get to that. Again we have to wait and see how the game progresses.
On D.L. MooreHe's caught the ball well. He's run good routes. When they do that certainly they get the chance to play a lot more. He's been much better at practice. As coaches that's what you look at. Usually the guys that catch in practice and the scrimmages, those are the guys you want in the ball game. D.L. has done well.
On playing tight games with VanderbiltWe have tough battles with almost everybody. We don't blow out hardly anybody yet. Hopefully some day we can blow out these lesser teams, but certainly Vanderbilt is not in that neighborhood of a lesser team anymore. We've always had pretty close games with them from what I can remember. They've beaten us a couple of times also out of the seven years (I've been at South Carolina). They're a good team and play everybody tight. They have good players, are well-coached and in position. They generally don't beat themselves.
On game preparations for an SEC openerWe prepare every game very similarly. We'll prepare for East Carolina and UAB very similarly to Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee everybody. Preparation is pretty much the same each week.
On top playmakers for VanderbiltLast year when they played us they weren't very good if you can remember. I think they only had 100 yards of total offense. They got a lot better after that. Jordan Matthews, a wide receiver, was named their most valuable offensive player during preseason practice. They give awards out or maybe the newspaper gave it out. Their quarterback, Jordan Rodgers, is a good passer like his brother. He threw for a lot of yards last year. Matthews made some big time catches the latter part of last year, and they say he's made big time catches in practices and scrimmages (this preseason).
On playing an SEC team as the first game of the seasonIt doesn't matter. Have to play them sometime. First one for them and first one for us. Some people think you get a lot better the second game you play. Hopefully that will be the case for Vanderbilt and not for us. They give you four weeks (of practice) now. We all had plenty of time to get ready. I'm sure they're like us and tired of meeting and practicing the same stuff all the time.
On Mike Davis possibly redshirtingWe won't worry about redshirting anyone right now if we think they can play to help us win the game.
On Kenny MilesKenny played extremely well the Clemson and Nebraska games. All summer he was one of the top workout guys according to one of our strength coaches. He's one of the leaders on the team and a fifth year senior. He's already graduated and could've played at a lot of schools and been the starting tailback. His average yards per carry is one of the best in school history here. Two or three years ago he averaged around five yards a carry. He's a good player. We need to get him on the field. He's a good leader on the team; also he's a valuable person here.
Mike Matulis at right tackle may barely be 300, but I don't think we've ever had an all-300 pound line here. At times they look pretty good up there. At times we can play better. They're still a young bunch of guys. T.J. Johnson is the only senior on the line. Matulis is in his second year and Brandon Shell is a redshirt freshman at left tackle. Patrick is in his third year and A.J. Cann is in his third year.
On playing at VanderbiltIt will be loud like almost every place we go. They're trying to encourage their fans to pump up the noise some and make it difficult on the opponent. It should be very loud. We're expecting it to be very loud. We snap with our foot in the shotgun and don't do a lot of vocal signals. Noise shouldn't affect our team very much. We're expecting it to be loud, and they have a sellout or near-sellout for the game.
Link to South Carolina depth chart for Vanderbilt game found here