Spurrier Shakes Up Lineup for Georgia Game
"Hopefully we can be in the ballgame with the Georgia Bulldogs. It's a crucial game for both schools," said Steve Spurrier as he opened his weekly press conference. "I'm Looking forward to seeing what happens. Georgia has run for over 200 yards each game the last two years; we need to slow down their run a bit. We've been good in scoring defense (and) hopefully that will continue. We can't let them stay out on the field and run up and down on us. We'll try to tackle better, play with a little bit more effort, be in the right position."
"It wasn't very good the other night but that's one game," he said commenting on USC's sloppy performance in the season opener. "It wasn't terrible. Louisiana-Lafayette is a very good running team. Their offensive line blocked pretty well, and the backs ran well. Hopefully we can tackle a little better and get some guys out there that can tackle better, but that game's history. We held them to 14 points somehow, so it's hard to get too mad when we give up 14 points. If we can only give up 14 we should win most of our games.
Though South Carolina won their first game, it did not play up to the level of expectations that Spurrier had placed on his club. As a result, Spurrier has elected to make several lineup changes heading into USC's crucial SEC opener against Georgia this weekend.
"Kevin Young's going to get a chance to play. The guy in front of him (Lemuel Jeanpierre) didn't play all that well, so he's going to get a chance." Jeanpierre had just made his first start against ULL after he replaced James Thompson, who was suspended for the first three games for violation of university and team rules. Despite that change, Spurrier indicated that he was fairly pleased with the overall play of the offensive line, saying, "The line was pretty decent. We didn't have a lot of guys coming through cleanly as we've had early in each of the prior two seasons."
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Kevin Young will start at right guard against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Head Ball Coach also indicated some changes at wide receiver would take place. "Freddie Brown, he's going to start at one of the wide receiver positions. Moe (Brown) has trouble blocking down field, he's not a real thick young man, so he gets sort of tossed around, and we felt like Freddie would be a little better blocking downfield. Freddie catches the ball when it's thrown to him. He has excellent hands. We figured he deserved the chance to start."
USC fans were looking forward to seeing some of the heralded freshmen receivers in week one, but due to the Ragin' Cajuns keeping things interesting, they did not see much playing time against ULL. Spurrier said, "The freshmen, they didn't get to play as much as we had hoped. We're trying to get some of those young guys ready also. Chris Culliver, Matt Clements, and Jason Barnes are the three who could step in there and play a little bit more."
USC played eleven freshmen in the season opener, but he deflected any criticism because of that. "If you sit around and talk about all your freshmen, you're looking for excuses. We don't have any excuses. We are who we are. Maybe you can say our best team looks good down the road, but we're not worrying about down the road, we're worried about this season and making the most of it with an eye on the future. We're redshirting a lot of our freshman and maybe even redshirt some sophomore and junior guys that we think need a redshirt year."
While senior Blake Mitchell is thought to be the frontrunner to start Saturday's game in Athens, Spurrier indicated that he would wait until Thursday to announce the starting quarterback, saying, "It gives us a little advantage in Georgia's preparation for the game." He was optimistic about his team's offensive potential, saying, "We're a lot better offensive team this year than we were at this time last year."
When referencing the lineup changes, Spurrier talked about his philosophy and the reasons why he felt changes were necessary after the first game: "Obviously we didn't tackle very well, but we still held them to 14 points. I don't want to get on our guys too much because we did keep them out of the end zone. I was hoping we were past those kinds of games. I was hoping we were past Wofford running for 290 yards; third-and-25 and they almost make it. We're not past that. It's frustrating but it is what it is. We have to keep coaching and keep making changes, the way I look at it. If a player can't get it done, you try the next guy. You may come back to that guy, but you keep changing until you find some guys that want to play well and can play well. You may find out that that's the best we can do and that's the best we can tackle. If we come to that conclusion then we are what we are."
On the defensive side of the ball, Spurrier gave a possible surprise change at linebacker: "Dustin Lindsey may end up starting this week if he's healthy and gets to practice today and tomorrow. Dusty is sort of a bigger linebacker than some of our guys. He's tough and likes to hit people, so there's a chance he may be out there a lot more. He was expected to be back (from an ACL injury suffered in spring practice) by the third game, so he's a little ahead of schedule."
Other changes and possible changes: Ryan Brown may replace Travian Robertson at defensive end; as mentioned, Dustin Lindsey may move ahead of Rodney Paulk; at strong safety Darian Stewart replaces Stoney Woodson, which moves Brandon Isaac from starting strong safety to starting free safety.
Spurrier wasn't pleased with the special teams play on Saturday, but he re-iterated that the team is spending at least 30 minutes dedicated to special teams in each practice.
Spurrier's teams have been hampered by key injuries his first two seasons. One of the players just back from a season ending injury is Marque Hall . Spurrier said, "Marque Hall was moving around well in the second half. He and Eric Norwood were probably the best on the defensive side."
"Our team is actually pretty healthy right now. I don't think any starters are going to be out except Emanuel Cook. He's still going to be out another week with his appendicitis."
Georgia is the one team of the top three teams in the SEC East that Spurrier's teams have not beaten yet. He said, "It's just as important for our team as it is for theirs. They're in our division and certainly it's a crucial game. If we're going to compete for the division we obviously need to start beating them someday. Hopefully this year, and if not we'll try to do it next year. We'll know a lot more about our team after the game Saturday, certainly."
Kickoff is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
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