Gamecocks ready for SEC rival Vanderbilt

Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks are ready to face-off this Thursday against Vanderbilt. This week's season-opener puts both teams in the national spotlight and the Gamecocks will have to face a fired up team in Nashville.

South Carolina could have their hands full with the Vanderbilt Commodores this Thursday night. The game is nationally televised on ESPN and is expected to be a big conference game between both teams looking to get their season off on the right foot. Coach Spurrier had this to say on Monday in regards to the magnitude of this game between both teams:

"We'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."

Spurrier emphasized at how important this game was for Vanderbilt and even mentioned today that the Commodores likely have this game circled on the calendar. He even mentioned that the Goodyear Blimp is expected in Nashville, so you know this is a big game for Vanderbilt.

Luckily for the Gamecocks, South Carolina has a healthy Marcus Lattimore to attack the defense of Vanderbilt. Lattimore is ready to go and the coaching staff thinks he can handle the load this Thursday if they need him to.

"Marcus is ready to carry 25 or 30 times," Coach Spurrier said this afternoon. He also mentioned that he'd like to have more balance and plans to get Kenny Miles some playing time here and there and not quite get to that many carries with Lattimore. The amount of carries will have to be a "wait and see" approach for the Gamecocks and see how the game progresses.

Another running back, freshman Mike Davis, was brought up in today's press conference in regards to possibly redshirting this season. Spurrier mentioned that they won't worry about redshirting anyone right now. He plans to play individuals who can help South Carolina win the game.

This game is the season-opener for both teams, and SEC opener as well, but that doesn't change the game preparations for the Gamecocks.

"We 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."

Coach Spurrier also says that it doesn't matter that the Gamecocks are opening the season with an SEC team as the first game of the season.

"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."

South Carolina and Vanderbilt have had some recent tight games dating back to the beginning of Steve Spurrier's tenure at South Carolina. Vanderbilt was able to sneak back-to-back wins away from the Gamecocks in 2007-2008 but South Carolina overall is 17-4 against the Commodores. Steve Spurrier knows they have some tough battles with almost everyone they play including Vanderbilt.

"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."

The Gamecocks will continue their preparations for Vanderbilt this evening with a 6:15 practice. Tonight's practice is closed to the public.

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