Columbia, SC- Steve Spurrier didn’t pull any punches about the Gamecock performance last week. His already well-known post-game press conference showed the HBC was- and still is- pretty heated about the special teams play.
“The way we played is embarrassing.” That seemed to be Spurrier’s mantra after an ugly win over a Vanderbilt team that hadn’t been impressive. His mantra today wasn’t that much different. “We could have easily been upset… We gotta get our guys playing at a higher level. We have some guys that play well, and some that don’t play very well. As coaches, we need to get those guys up to speed.” Coach Spurrier went on to talk about special teams, a topic that has been notably controversial during his tenure as head coach at South Carolina. “I think we’ve had 6 returned on us since I was here.” He also noted that in his tenure at Carolina, the team has never returned a kickoff for touchdown.
Coach Spurrier also touched on the defense, noting that the Gamecocks haven’t been able to mount much of a pass rush this year. The Gamecocks, tied for last in the conference in total sacks, have only accumulated 4 total sacks on the year. “We’ll probably have to bring linebackers to get any kind of pressure,” Coach Spurrier stated. “We’re just a little limited as far as some of those natural rush guys we’re used to having around here.”
That could be especially important for the upcoming Missouri game, as Tiger quarterback Maty Mauk leads the SEC in touchdown passes. “We have to contain him,” Spurrier said, “he’s the kind of quarterback that can run all over the place.” Senior Spur Sharrod Golightly had similar observations, “He’s (Mauk) a talent quarterback… he can extend plays.” Golightly also said that the defense, which gave up 680 yards against Texas A&M, is improving. “Each week we get better…we’re taking steps forward.” Golightly also noted that “progress is a process…all our goals are still ahead of us.”
Also taking questions were senior quarterback Dylan Thompson and sophomore wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. Cooper had a career high 10 catches for 114 yards against Vanderbilt, said that he was really getting comfortable with the offense. “I did set my career high in receptions and yards…but as the season goes forward, I’m looking at better games.” Thompson, who went 22-34 for 237 yards and 3 touchdowns last week, said that Cooper’s effort is what makes him stand out. “He’s one of those guys…during camp, he was doing two-a-days on his own… I mean, he would work out, and then go run routes and throw (with me)…he has that desire to be great.” Cooper, who in two years at South Carolina has already thrown a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown, and caught two, has emerged as a real playmaker in the offense. “I always feel like there’s more I can do for the team”, Cooper said.
This week the Gamecocks are playing host to ESPN Gameday, and are featured in the 7 o’clock game on the ESPN network.