Fred Bennett: Every Game Is a 'Must Win'

Senior cornerback Fred Bennett is widely considered to be one of the top defensive backs in the nation this year, and he is the unquestioned leader of the young Carolina secondary. caught up with the talented elder statesman of the Gamecock defense, and he talked about this weekend's match up with Vanderbilt and much more.

Question: Can you talk about the importance of the Vanderbilt game as you head into the second half of the season?

Answer: It's real important that we come out against Vanderbilt and try to get a win. I watched them last week against Georgia, and they did some great things on offense, as well as on defense. It's going to be a tough challenge, but I think our coaches are ready for it and our players are ready for it.

Question: Do you view the game this weekend as a must win?

Answer: We look at every game as if we've got to have it. We want to win every game, but Vanderbilt is our next opponent, and we're looking at this game as we're going to go up there and try to get a win.

Question: Did you enjoy the weekend off?

Answer: Yeah, I went on a trip to Cincinnati. I had a lot of fun. I just chilled out and hung out with Jonathan Joseph for a little while. He's got a nice little house up there.

Question: Did that serve as a nice little reminder of what could be ahead for you?

Answer: Yeah, but I'm not focusing on that right now. I've still got six games left in my senior season, and I'm just trying to go out as a winner… I stay in the present. Like I said, I've got six more games here at South Carolina. If I take this game any further, then so be it, but I'm not focused on that right now. I'm just trying to stay healthy and help my team win as many games as possible.

Question: Do you think that the mistakes that haunted this secondary late in the game against Kentucky are behind you now?

Answer: We had a couple of mental errors last game, but I think they will correct it. Our coaches emphasized during the off week, as well as yesterday just to minimize the mental mistakes, and we'll be alright.

Question: What did you think about Coach Spurrier calling out the secondary after the Kentucky game?

Answer: As a head coach, you want to win big. Sometimes it's not going to be as pretty, but you want to win big, and you expect players to go out there and play as close to perfection as possible. I understand where he was coming from, and I respect what he did. I think he got the guys attention, and I just think the guys are ready to put that behind them and move on.

Question: What are your thought on going up against Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett?

Answer: I've watched him a couple of times. He's a great receiver, and he's well respected by me and by my teammates. I think they've got something special going on up there at Vanderbilt. With the big win over Georgia last week, I think they're doing some great things up there with that team.

Question: How does the Vanderbilt offense differ this year with Chris Nickson at quarterback, rather than Jay Cutler?

Answer: I think (Nickson) is more of a dual threat quarterback. Last year Jay Cutler could run, but he would rather sit back in the pocket and pass. I think this quarterback can hurt you with his arm and his feet, so we've just got to come up with a good game plan and try to contain him.

Question: Do you feel like if you lose to Vanderbilt that this team and program might be taking a step back?

Answer: I think if we lose to Vanderbilt, we won't be set back. It would just be a wake up call for us. This is the SEC, and any given week you can lose. The SEC is s strong conference, and I think each team has improved throughout each week. This is a conference game. Losing is not on our mind. We're trying to be positive around here, and we're trying to think we can go in there and get a win.

Question: This team has now won four straight conference road games. Is there a different mindset going on the road than playing at home?

Answer: Our coaches always tell us, ‘when you go on the road, you pack your defense,' and I thought our defense was doing a great job on the road. I just think we kind of pull together. I know we're not going to be at home, so we've just got to pull for one another. We've got some fans, but not the 80,000 fans that we have at home, so we just kind of make it a point to come together in unison and just take it from there.

Question: Have the players talked about the possibilities that still exist if you guys can find a way to run the table this season?

Answer: Yeah, I let them know if we win out we can do something special, but at the same time, I know we've got Vanderbilt. We're not looking forward to Tennessee or Arkansas or anybody like that, but at the same time, I think it's in the back of our mind that we've got something special going on, and we can do something special that's never been done here at South Carolina. So it's in the back of our mind, and I mentioned it yesterday a couple of times, but we're just really focused on Vanderbilt right now.

Question: Are you pleased with your play so far this season?

Answer: I'm pleased. I was criticized about my tackling ability and a lot of things, but I think I've proven to the country and all the critics that I can do that. So I'm pleased with my effort and the way I've been playing, but I'd love to get my hands on more picks.

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