Gamecocks Focused Solely On Clemson

After a forty-eight hour stretch where South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier was bombarded with questions, asking him to respond to unfounded internet rumors and accusations, the Ball Coach held his weekly Tuesday press conference and focused solely on this weekend's upcoming match up with in-state rival Clemson.



Spurrier opened with encouraging news about Saturday's weather forecast and stated it should be a picturesque day for football in the upstate. "Some good news - the weather's supposed to get better as the week goes. I think it's supposed to be 65 or 70 degrees Saturday. We should have a pretty day to play Clemson, our in-state rival, which is a huge game for us, and I guess a huge game for them also," said Spurrier.

With all five of Carolina's losses coming against Top 25 teams this season, including four losses by a touchdown or less, the Gamecocks still feel that they have a lot to prove entering into the season finale against the Tigers, according to Spurrier. "We'll see if we can beat a good team this year. We've beaten the guys we're supposed to and struggled at the end against some teams we had a chance to (beat) and didn't quite finish the game with a victory. We're looking forward to seeing if we can play well this week at Death Valley."

Clemson entered the 2006 season with a veteran team and legitimate BCS aspirations, but the Tigers have stumbled down the stretch with two losses in their last three games. Spurrier compared the Tigers misfortunes to those that the Gamecocks have endured this season, as he said, "They've probably had a year that's a little disappointing, such as we have. You can always look back on some close ones. They've got an excellent season going; 8-3 is a wonderful record for them. Six and five is where we are, and we're looking forward to playing the last game."

Being the Offensive Coordinator and chief play-caller for the Gamecocks, Spurrier stated that he respects what the Tigers do on the defensive side of the ball. "I think their defense is about eighth in the country overall. They've really got a good-looking defensive bunch of players. Of course defensive end Gaines (Adams) is a big-time NFL prospect," said Spurrier.

Spurrier insisted that the Gamecocks will have to perform better in scoring position than they did a year ago, where the Gamecocks had five opportunities in the red zone, but only came away with nine points. "We've got to play well if we get in scoring position. Last year we got down there a few times and had to kick a few field goals. Then we had a couple of turnovers the other two times. Hopefully we'll play better if we get in that situation."

When asked if the team prepares differently for the heated rivalry game against Clemson, Spurrier replied that the Gamecocks approach all of their games the same. "We really approach every game the same pretty much. We approached Middle Tennessee about like we did Florida, said Spurrier. "We don't change a whole bunch of things. I don't know why you'd do that. You emphasize every game the most you can and try to have a good solid plan for each opponent and go from there."


NOTES:

- Spurrier was asked whether or not he liked playing Clemson in the final game of the season, but he casually replied that it didn't make much of a difference to him. "Yeah, I think it's a tradition to play it late. If some year Clemson was in the ACC Championship game and some year we were in the SEC game, then it might not make a lot of sense, said Spurrier. "It's okay; it doesn't matter to me when we play it. I think it's traditionally the last game of the year, so if that's where we want to keep it, that's fine. If somebody wanted to move it up earlier in the year, that would be fine with me, too. I think probably the fans like the game (as) the last one."

- Syvelle Newton is currently enjoying his role at safety, but if needed, he could see action at quarterback on Saturday, according to Spurrier. "Syvelle really enjoys playing safety right now to tell you the truth. It's hard to get him on the offensive side of the field. We'll have his ball plays ready. If there's a lot pressure on Blake (Mitchell) and he can't get any passes off, then it might be time to Syvelle in there and let him run around and see what happens."

- Spurrier complemented the Clemson offense by saying, "They've got good players at all positions. Offensively, their running backs are very good. I think they've pretty much have a senior offensive line. This was a year I know they felt they had a chance to have a huge season and they almost did."


Saturday's match up between South Carolina and Clemson will be the 104th meeting on the gridiron between the two Palmetto State schools. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. (EST), and the game will be nationally televised by ESPN.

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