Gamecocks Ready For Tennessee

Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media on Thursday evening to share his final thoughts before the Gamecocks face off against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night. However, while the media is hyping Saturday's contest as potentially the biggest game of the year for South Carolina, Spurrier insisted that his team approaches every game the same way week in and week out.

Unfortunately, the Ball Coach was feeling under the weather after Thursday's practice. "I'm trying to shake a head cold," Spurrier said. "Hopefully I can shake it by Saturday night." However, he felt much better about the way the Gamecocks have practiced this week. "We just had a normal week. Our atmosphere doesn't change a whole lot. We all try to get ready to play the best we can each week, it doesn't matter who the opponent is." Spurrier stressed the importance of not letting the players or the coaches become distracted by all the national attention the game is receiving, primarily in the form of ESPN College Gameday. "I try to keep the same week, no matter who [comes]," Spurrier said. "I try to have the normal week we always have." When told that former coach Lou Holtz once visited the Gameday set during an appearance in Columbia, Spurrier said he cannot afford to take the time out to do that. "Of course, I call the plays," he explained, "so if you have to call plays you're not out shaking hands too much. I shake hands with the recruits and so forth. The head coaches that don't call plays, that's what they do; they shakes hands with everybody and recruit on Saturday."

The Volunteers are averaging over 30 points per game, and the Gamecocks know they must slow down Tennessee's offense if they want to pull the upset on Saturday night. This mission applies mainly to the defense, but the offense can also play a role. If Carolina's offense can run the ball and control the clock, they can limit the number of possessions Tennessee has and keep the Volunteers from having a short field off of turnovers. When asked if he thought his offense could keep up if the game turned into a shootout, Spurrier shook his head and said, "I don't know. We don't want to get in a drop back passing game against that pass rush they've got. We don't want to get behind." He went on to talk about how his offensive philosophy has changed since his days at Florida. "We take a long time out there: six or seven minute drives. In the old days we'd go out there and try to throw five or six and score as fast as we could. Now we may run five or six, and be happy if we can make a first down or two."

Spurrier is not quite as concerned about the defense, partly because he does not spend much time on that side of the ball, but mainly because the defense has been the team's strength this year. "We've done very well," Spurrier said proudly. "We played better the last few games. No question our defense has played well. That needs to continue, and the offense needs to capitalize when we have our chances." The defense is led by the Brinkley brothers, who arrived at Carolina this year from Georgia Military Academy. "We didn't know how good of players they were," Spurrier said, "but certainly they have helped our defense." However, the media wanted to know more about the twins; specifically, can you tell them apart? "A little bit," Spurrier grinned. "Casper's head is a little more streamlined than Jasper's. Just a little bit, not much. I know one of them is 51 and one is 52, that is the best way."

Spurrier continued to say that he will stick with the same offensive line that finished the game against Vanderbilt: Jamon Meredith at left tackle, Thomas Coleman at left guard, Chris White at center, Seth Edwards at right guard, and Justin Sorensen at right tackle. However, he did mention that Sorensen would be on a short leash. "If Sorensen can learn his plays, he's still in there. He just jumps offsides. He did that against Florida Atlantic, had two penalties in a row and we jerked him out just to embarrass him a little bit." Hutch Eckerson would replace Sorensen at right tackle. Spurrier also noted that Sorensen, one of three Canadians along the offensive line (the injured Gurminder Thind and tight end Robert Pavlovic are the others), wears a sticker of the Canadian flag on his helmet. When he found out that nobody had noticed the flag, Spurrier chided the reporters for being unobservant.

Other Notes:

Per the request of the South Carolina Athletic Department, fans are encouraged to wear garnet on Saturday when the Gamecocks play host to the Volunteers. Kickoff is set for 7:45 (EST), and the game will be televied nationally by ESPN.

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