Spurrier Has a Mid-Summer Sit Down
Coach Spurrier, in a relaxed atmosphere draped with his typical "18-holes sense of humor," took Monday afternoon to update Gamecock Nation on the young men donning Garnet and Black this fall. A variety of topics were brought up by both Spurrier and the media, with the head ball coach dodging none of them – except one.
Three of the expected incoming freshmen will not be enrolled at South Carolina this year. Citing an assortment of issues and refusing to give up any names, Spurrier simply said, "It appears that three guys are not gonna' qualify. One was not admitted. We still have one or two with clearinghouse issues and what have you. Overall, it appears that 24 or 25 of the 29 will be here ready to go in September."
He reiterated his comments were not a guarantee, but a hypothesis deduced from what they've heard so far.
"It appears right now that we will not have to greyshirt anybody."
He continued to update where the incoming freshman who did qualify were in their transition to college life, "Just about all the incoming freshmen who did qualify are here now and start summer school tomorrow and will able to join in with our players during summer workouts, again starting tomorrow – Tuesday."
With NCAA rules prohibiting coaches from overseeing any summer workouts, Coach was left to comment on what he's heard, rather than what he's seen. He was pleased though.
"We've heard that they are going a lot better than the prior two years that I've been here. Players come and pick up their meal money so we sorta' get word of mouth, ‘Hey, hows it goin'? Is most everybody there?' We don't have 100% attendance, but as far as what we here it's the best in the three years," said Coach Spurrier, "Hopefully that'll prove dividends in those close ball games this coming year. The offseason work our players put forward will carry us through those types of games. For us to have a big year, obviously, we've got to win some games that come down to the wire."
Senior running back Cory Boyd has reportedly been a leader in the team workouts this summer.
The team reports to camp August 3rd, with the first practice being held August 4th, "As most of our fans know, we practice a lot at night, and we play a lot at night. We'll do a lot of nighttime practices... also because the weather is much better to get a lot more done."
When asked about the impact of the freshmen for this season, Coach was quick to mention Chris Culliver as one of the fastest on the team. He noted his top notch ability to return kicks in high school.
Don't Listen to the Critics
Coach Spurrier is trying to condition the mindset of the team after that of current USC student and recent winner of the Miss South Carolina pageant, Cyrstal Garrett. Diagnosed with allergy induced asthma as a child, Miss Garrett was told throughout her younger years there would be no on-stage performances because the breathing problems would prevent it.
Asked about how she overcame the diagnosis and blossomed into a extraordinary stage performer and vocalist, Crystal simply replied, "I did not listen to them when they told me I would not be a singer. I realized I had a God-given talent."
These inspiring words have become the motto of this football team, according to Coach Spurrier, "We don't need to listen to other people who tell us we can't do anything because we really can."
Reiterating his point about the new lofty goals around the programs, Spurrier said, "Obviously, we lost some close games last year, and I read one magazine that said we lost three games by tipped balls. I really think our defense will be better. We need to get in the top half of the league defensively. We couldn't stop third and fifteen in the fourth quarter if we had to.
"We're not too far off. I think this team is capable. It is capable. We've got a chance. Believing we've got a chance will maybe make a difference a little bit in the close games this year."
He strengthened his point citing Florida's run to the National title in which they came close to losing several games, not just the South Carolina contest.
The mindset is exactly where he thinks it should be going into the third year, alluding to Cory Boyd and Jasper Brinkley's decisions to stay when they both could have been drafted. To Spurrier, it's an encouraging sign that they believed there was something good going on at South Carolina.
Perhaps he summed it up best saying, "We're upping our goals because we think we can play with everybody. But, until we walk out of Atlanta a winner, we haven't achieved our goal."
Spring Game Evaluations and Health Concerns
"We evaluate here and there. It gives them a little starting point once pre-season practice starts in August. As you know, most all the positions (are open). If someone goes bad in the summer or pre-season practice, he can get beaten out. We don't anticipate that, but it's very important that we give players a chance to know where they start in pre-season, and if our freshman are gonna' beat someone out, they've gotta' come in and outperform them during the preseason."
Stephen Garcia seems to be over a minor bout with tendonitis in his knee.
Dustin Lindsey, according to the trainer, is progressing well enough that he may actually be able to play at the beginning of the season.
Marvin Sapp is making progress and should be back by the start of fall camp.
Marque Hall should be ready to go, according to Spurrier.
Starting To Resemble a Football Team
Coach alluded to size as an indicator of changing times in Columbia, "Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews are two of the fastest, quickest big guys that I've been around. We have some tall guys. Dang, we're starting to look like a football team around here. I saw Weslye Saunders, an incoming tight end, the other day and he's like 6'5". Jason Barnes is 6'4" at wide receiver."
Quintin Richardson Update
"I've spoken to Quintin. He seems to be ok. He's supposed to be fine. He's supposed to start practice, certainly by August he'll be ready to go."
All of the Pre Season Predictions
Though many of Gamecock Nation feel slighted by the pre-season predictions, Spurrier has no problem confirming their "#4 in the East" label, "We're right where we should be. We were 3-5 in conference last season."
Using the pre-season magazines as a motivating tool, the Coach made a point to tell Cory Boyd and Kenny McKinley, "Man, they forgot about you, didn't they? But you got a chance to show ‘em this coming season."
"We'll be a team to pick when we start beating those top teams."
The Quarterback Situation
Asked about his ideal QB situation, Spurrier left open opportunity, but also made a point to squash any talks of a controversy, "We don't know exactly what Stephen Garcia can do yet. We'll get a chance to watch him soon. I have no idea what he'll do. All I've seen (him do) is throw a few in shorts like you guys have."
He continued about the other quarterbacks on the roster leaving no questions about their current rank, "It'll be (Chris) Smelley second and Tommy Beecher, I guess, is next and then Stephen."
At one point, but almost in jest, Spurrier said, "Worse comes to worse, if we can't block anybody we'll put Kenny McKinley back there and let him run around like Syvelle did."
The Receiving Corp
Asked if there were any obvious areas of concern, there was an indirect morsel of good news. Coach Spurrier did not immediately name the offensive line as his chief concern. He did voice a subtle concern for someone to "step up" at the wide receiver position.
"Kenny (McKinley) is about the only one who's done a lot. Freddie Brown made some nice catches towards the end of last year. But we need some wide receivers to step forward. It's gonna' be interesting to see what Chris Culliver, Jason Barnes, Dion Lecorn, and Matt Clements (can do). We've got five or six new receivers out there."
Junior wide receiver Kenny McKinley will be asked to lead the Gamecocks' young wide receiver corp this fall.
The Offensive Line
Addressing the state of most fans biggest concern, the offensive line, he explained, "We have confidence that Kevin Young is gonna' be a good player for us in there. He's healthy now. Also, Jamon Meredith and (Justin) Sorenson (look good). Sorenson lost some weight, that's encouraging."
"From what I understand Sorenson has lost some weight and he's running well. If he's a little quicker he can hold down that right tackle spot, Jamon – the left."
"Blake is prepared, but he's a quarterback who needs some protection. Obviously we need the running game to go well with Cory Boyd and Mike Davis."
Reminding everyone in the room that the Gamecocks were one of only a few teams in Division I to not have a special teams or defensive touchdown all season, Spurrier spoke highly of Shane Beamer's work and the potential special teams' progress this fall.
"Our coach's are well prepared to coach what they need to coach. They practiced during the spring. Hopefully we'll see the results when the real games come. He's done a very good job with our blocked kicks and so forth."
Coach confirmed that there are a few possible medical redshirts on the way, but would not reveal names due to the uncertainty of each situation.
Keeping up the frantic pace to the oncoming season, Media Day will be August 5th.
In the past, USC has had to look into the eyes of the proverbial deer in the headlights when questioning their Head Coach. Aside from a couple Lou Holtz seasons, Gamecock Nation had become accustomed to Brad Scott or Sparky Woods giving a politician's speech more than that of a Head Coach. There always seemed to be an underlying uneasiness which drove their motivation to side step questions like a grade school dodge ball participant.
Today was different. Today seemed like a Coach ready to get on the field, eager to teach and confident in the positive possibilities.
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