Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Nicole, a GamecockAnthem member better known here as Ladygamecock, provides us an exciting first-person look into Gamecock Football from a woman's perspective. She was a participant in the Steve Spurrier Ladies Football Clinic held Saturday at the Colonial Center and at Williams Brice Stadium.

Normally on a day with the temperature in the 90's, I'm lounging on the beach soaking up some rays. Not today.... Today something exciting was going on in the Capital City, and I left the coast to be a part of it.

The Colonial Center was the place to be if you are a female Carolina fan, as Steve Spurrier hosted his 2nd annual Ladies Day Clinic. Sorry...no men allowed. Although it was sweltering outside, inside it was cool - as were the coaches, their families and the players in attendance. It was a day of opportunity to talk with the players and coaches, and to get their autographs and photos.

It was also an opportunity to learn a little more about the game of football. For some ladies, it was their first Ladies Day Clinic, for others, they have been coming since Sparky Woods was Head Coach.

As ladies arrived, their tickets were taken, and they were given a t-shirt and goodie bag. There was Gamecock merchandise for sale. Raffle tickets were also being sold for two signed and framed prints, a football, and a helmet (also signed). Ladies headed into the basketball arena to find a seat. Many then got in line for Coach Spurrier's autograph and to have their picture taken with him. Others got autographs and photos with the players and Assistant Coaches. Some of the players in attendance were: Cory Boyd, Chris Smelley, Casper & Jasper Brinkley, Andy Boyd, Marque Hall, Lanard Stafford, Joel Reaves, Thomas Coleman, and Matt Raysor.

I couldn't help but notice how much of a leader Cory Boyd is. I cannot wait to see him in action on the field this season. Look for him to have a very special year.

All of the players were wonderful and gave autographs and took photos with any lady that asked. I told Andy Boyd I was glad he had decided to stay and play this season. They were showing games from last season on the scoreboard, and the players were watching and seemed to really be *studying* the plays in between signing autographs and smiling for pictures. This was my 4th time going, and I've never noticed our players doing that before. You could sense they are men on a mission. They want to be the best. They want to be champions.

Around 9:30, everyone was asked to take their seats. They showed an awesome highlight video from the 2005 season. Coach Cooper welcomed us, then introduced and turned the microphone over to the Ol' Ball Coach. Of course, we gave him a standing ovation.

Below are my notes from Coach Spurrier and the other coaches, as well as from their families.

*Coach Spurrier asked which was our favorite game last year? He gave us 5 choices: UCF, Vanderbuilt, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida. Florida won, with the Volunteers coming in a close 2nd.

*He is happy with how voluntary & spring practices have gone. He said we have 5-6 guys that don't 'get' what it takes to be a winner, but the rest are on board, working hard, and doing great.

*He thinks we'll like this team. They should play better, block better and be more disciplined than last year. They went back to fundamentals.

*He thinks this year's defense will play better than last year's defense. They will be better prepared.

*He thinks our OL will play better than last year.

*Our goal is to win more than we lose.

*He has cautious optimism with this team.

*He said the team was prepared and ready to play Clemson, but got bogged down, and just didn't execute. We gained 100 more yards on them than we did against FL, but stymied in the red zone and came away with field goals instead of touchdowns.

*He said they are still upset about losing the bowl game. They pooped out in the 2nd half, and it was very disappointing. It wasn't due to poor conditioning. Our guys were not out of shape - they just didn't execute the plays.

*Our QB's are taught to pass the ball in between defenders. That helps prevent injuries to our WR's, and keeps them from being carried off the field. If you see one of our receivers run into a defender, the QB led him into the defender with a bad pass.

*Coach talked a bit about some of our plays. Of course, I won't offer up any secrets here, but don't be surprised when your wife or girlfriend tells you what to watch for during games this season.

*It was Jeri Spurrier's birthday and they had a cake with "21" on it and we all sang Happy Birthday. Coach Cooper said Jeri always bakes a cake for any staff or family member on their birthday. She also has this goofy hat she makes them wear (and she had to wear it today). If it's a players birthday, they get homemade cookies in their locker.

*They let the players know how much they care about them and want to help them in any way they can. They see them as part of their family. And you can tell when they talk about the closeness, they truly mean it.

On to defense.

*Coach Nix said Coach Spurrier always tells him he wants the ball back as fast as possible.

*They teach the defenders the 5 P's: 1. Proper 2. Preparation 3. Prevent 4. Poor 5. Performance

which stands for: Proper preparations prevents poor performance.

*One of our defensive goals is to have 1 sack for every 10 passes.

*Now that O-lineman put carpet tape on their shoulder and chest pads, then pull their jersey's tight over them, it makes it impossible to grab their jerseys. Used to, you could grab it and hold on...helping to contain them.

*Coach Lawing said he's coached in the Big 10, ACC and here and the Gamecock fans are the very best.

Q&A Time:

*One lady asked why when we get a lead do we go into a prevent defense? They said they've reviewed last years tapes and want to be more aggressive. They sent good defensive plays in, but they were poorly executed. Hope our guys play smarter this year.

*Cory Boyd was asked how it feels to be back? He said it is a privilege. He appreciates Coach Spurrier giving him another chance, and appreciates his teammates sticking by him. He wants to play his best and win a championship.

*Someone asked the players why they chose USC? Chris Smelley said it was because he wanted to come here and win a championship for a college that had never had one. He said he also wanted to play for Coach Spurrier.

*The question was asked how they work out to prepare for the heat/hot conditions? Matt Raysor responded and was telling us how they run early in the morning and again in the afternoon. After he was done...Coach Spurrier took the microphone and said Matt Raysor beat the heat by not being at all the practices. I have to tell you, I blushed for Matt. I was embarrassed for him. It sure let the players know the Head Ball Coach knows all.

*Someone asked what team they most want to beat this year? Jasper Brinkley said he wants to beat GEORGIA.

*Andy Boyd was asked what he wants to do after college? He said he'd like to be a coach...hopefully here.

*Marque Hall has put on about 30 pounds in the last year (or two). Coach Spurrier said it was "good weight". He is in outstanding condition. His arms are HUGE.

*Lanard Stafford, once a walk-on, has now earned his scholarship per SOS. When Lanard first came to the team, he could barely run 2-3 drills. Now he is working out and doing all of the running frills with the WR's.

*If you've not seen Thomas Coleman....he is huge. A real BEAST. One of the strongest guys on our team.

*They talked a bit about recruiting. They told us how it works.....and that they start looking at guys as freshman in high school (not talk to them), but ask coaches to let them know about talented players so they can keep a distant eye on them.

*They said we had two recruits visiting today - but gave us no other information. They explained they are not allowed to talk about them.

*They said coaches can text message as much as they want, but they can only call so many times, during certain times, etc..

*They showed a video of the different penalties that are called during games....

*Coach Spurrier was asked to compare our rivalry with Clemson to the FL vs. FL State rivalry. He said it is very similar. Both teams are in the same state but in different conferences. Both games are played as the last regular season game. However, he pointed out that beating Clemson is not as important as beating AL or AU because we want an SEC championship, and beating Clemson does not help us with that. He said we DO want to beat Clemson, but our goal is an SEC Championship.

*SOS was asked about players leaving early for the NFL. He said that they try to teach the players to stay for at least 3 years. Laughing, he asked "Where's Sidney?" If after playing 3 seasons, they are projected to go in the first round, they understand them going. He said hopefully our players will want to stay and leave their mark at their University because no matter where you go in life, this is your school and you can always come back and be proud of what you accomplished here.

*Someone asked him about how he used to make smart remarks when he was at FL and had he mellowed, or would we be hearing those again? He said that many of those remarks were made at Gator Club meetings, and were leaked out. He said he is not looking to say cute things. His goal is to be a winning coach as USC.

In between the different position coaches talking, and drills involving some of the ladies, we also had lunch and another chance to get autographs and photos with players/coaches. They also gave away door prizes, and drew names for the winners of the raffle.

Once we were finished there, it was time to head over to Williams Brice Stadium. It was nice to see the weight rooms, meeting rooms, locker room, Heisman trophy, and take lots of pictures. The coaches were also on hand for questions. Of course, the most exciting part of the day was running out of the tunnel with 2001 blaring, smoke blowing and yelling our heads off. What a great way to spend the day!

Gamecock fans, this team has a great ride in store for us. So buckle up and get ready.....the best is yet to come!

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