Spurrier Vows "Team Will Be Ready" Saturday

Coach Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss Saturday's game against the Wofford Terriers. Following the disappointing 18-0 loss to Georgia, just the second time a Spurrier offense has been shut out, the Ol' Ball Coach has promised changes. Even three days later, the disgust was present in Spurrier's voice as he discussed his team's play.

While the Gamecock faithful are agog over the promised changes, you won't hear anything from players or coaches: Spurrier has placed all offensive personnel off limits. He succinctly explained his reasoning: "None of them deserve to be interviewed." Spurrier explained that publicity must be earned. "They've had enough publicity when we're 110th in the country in offense. None of us need any," he explained. Even Spurrier is not immune to the rules, "I have to do this, that's why I'm here. I'm like them; I don't deserve any publicity either."

Though reporters pressed Spurrier about the changes he has promised, he steadfastly refused to tip his visor. When asked how many new starters might play on offense, Spurrier said, "Anywhere from 4-7." When asked if Syvelle Newton would see increased time at quarterback, Spurrier said the same thing he has said before each game, "We've always had his package available, but we'll just see how all that plays out." When asked about Matt Raysor's role, he said, "He may get a chance to play some this week."

"There could be some scheme changes," Spurrier said. When asked if the scheme changes mean the offense will look less like a typical Steve Spurrier offense, he replied, "I don't know what it's going to resemble. I had my name on that the last two weeks, so maybe I ought to try something else. It will be a little bit different. That's the only thing I need to say right now. We've got to do something to try to create more offense. We don't want to divulge all our new plans, but we will be a different looking offense. I'm embarrassed about the way we played last game. Obviously we did move the ball a little bit here and there. We got down to the one-yard line and the two-yard line, but good teams can score on 2nd and goal from the two with three cracks. We're reevaluating everything and trying to do some things differently around here. Most of our problems come down to blocking. If you are a pretty good offense, you usually block pretty well. We need to block, and we need to throw and catch, run better and those are my main worries."

The story was not all doom and gloom from Spurrier. He was able to find one positive about the offense. "The tailbacks played fairly well," the Ball Coach allowed. "Cory had some good runs against Mississippi State. I don't know what we did run-wise last week, we thought we could bang it in at the goal line, and Cory sort of ran into a wall there. They need more carries, they need more room and we need to stay on the field. We can't stay on the field very well. We are three and out, three and out, three and out. When we do stay out there, we find a way to drop the snap, some guy jumps offside. We are not a very disciplined team. That is what is embarrassing to me, to Coach Hunt. That's why you make changes, to find some guys who can play with some discipline."

"We've got a pretty good team. We may start some freshmen linemen, which most schools don't, but that's where we are right now. We just need to play better. You can ifs and buts the other night, five or six plays, and we certainly would have been in the game with a chance to win it, but we were sad on those five or six instances when we had a chance to be in the game and had a chance to win it. We are not that bad of a team but we are not that good right now, especially on offense, and we are going to try and get better."

Defensively, Spurrier was much more forthcoming with his praise. "Certainly, I'm pleased with the defense. We did give up some rushing yards to Georgia and we gave up a bunch of them to them last year too." The difference between a near win and embarrassing loss was the offense, Spurrier said. "Last year we at least scored when we got in the red zone, this year we didn't score at all. We do need to get better there. The [offense] last year wasn't a whole lot better at this time. We did score when we got in the red zone last year."

"Hopefully we can get on the scoreboard this week. We're going to do some things differently on offense to see if can't create some points. We're looking forward to seeing if we can do that. Wofford is a very good team. They know what they're doing. They don't make a lot of mistakes on defense. They force you to beat them. Offensively, they run the ball extremely well. Our defensive coaches have put in a little extra time trying to figure out all the assignments to stop the option run. We need to stop the run this week, try to force Wofford to throw the ball. If they get running up and down the field, we could be in for a long night. It should be a heck of a game."

The Gamecocks, who had been fairly healthy throughout the fall, suffered the first major injury of the season when Marque Hall went down with a knee injury. Spurrier said the void left by Hall will be filled by committee. "Stanley [Doughty], Joel Reaves, Lemuel Jeanpierre, are going to get a chance to play a little more." On the other side of the ball, Blake Mitchell was once again beaten up behind the struggling offensive line. A week after suffering a large gash on his leg, Mitchell bruised his throwing hand. "Blake hit a guy's helmet during the game the other night and couldn't finish […] so we put Chris Smelley in. I think his finger is still a little sore, but he should be fine by Saturday." Spurrier said that Mitchell has returned to practice. "He threw it around a little bit. It's still bothering him a little bit, but he should be fine for this weekend."

Asked about which young players had impressed during the games, Spurrier said pointedly, "Those defensive kids." He went on to talke about several players that had earned more playing time this weekend. "Captain Munnerlyn, Emanuel Cook, Rodney Paulk might play more this week. Eric Norwood may play a little more at defensive end, there are four guys right there. They've done very well." Add in the possibility that two freshmen could start on the offensive line, and Spurrier said the Gamecocks could "potentially have five or six starters who played in high school last year." Spurrier is not worried about the focus of the young players. "They are ready to go. That's why they came here, to play football. Some of them thought they may be redshirted, but we're not the position to redshirt several of the freshmen."

"Our biggest concern is football players. We are still trying to figure out who are best players are. Sometimes you can go through practices and practices, and you think you know who your best guys are, and then they turn on the lights, put you on television, put over 80,000 in the stands, and sometimes those maybe are not your best players. We are still trying to give guys opportunities that deserve a shot"

Even though Wofford is a Division I-AA team (or NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, for those who want to get technical about it), Spurrier is not promising a romp. "I don't really look at them as a I-AA or a Division I team, I look at them as another opponent on our schedule. We play 12 teams and we try to get ready to play our best each time out. This is another time out, this is one of our 12 opponents and we will hopefully play much, much better, especially on offense, than we've played all year. Until we do, we are just hoping. I don't look at them like that; I look at them as another team that is trying to kick our tails. We understand it would be huge for Wofford to beat us or Clemson. And if they beat us I guarantee you, we have no excuses, they are just better than us, that's all I will say because we are going to be ready to play. Our team will be ready to play the best we can.

Wofford does present an unusual challenge for Gamecock defenders. The Terriers run an option attack that is rarely seen from Division I-A teams (sorry, that should be NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. Whew, say that three times fast. Or better yet, forget the whole stupid thing.). "It's going to be something different for our guys," Spurrier said. "Normally against the teams we play, we stop the run with the tailback. Now you've got the fullback coming at you first, the quarterback can run with it and a pitch guy here and there, a reverse guy. You saw what Air Force did to Tennessee last week. Tennessee looked awfully good against Cal and Air Force comes in there and got 30 on them some how or another. It can give you fits. Hopefully we will be ready."

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