Hyman calls victory over UGA a "huge step"

From Athletic Director Eric Hyman, to recruits, to the national media, people are paying attention to the Gamecock victory over Georgia Saturday. Read inside for Eric Hyman's take as well of that of recruits and the national media on SC's upset of Georgia.

The national media is focused on the South Carolina football program right now after the nationally televised upset of then #11 Georgia. Eric Hyman gets paid to be focused on it all the time, but his job is definitely easier after a game like last Saturday's. The passionate Hyman had nearly lost his voice when GamecockAnthem caught up with him outside the locker room after the game.

"Sort of speechless right now. This falls in with the goals and aspirations that Steve has set for the program this year." Spurrier made public before the season started that he felt this year's team was ready to compete for the SEC Championship. Saturday's win over Georgia gives the Gamecocks a 1-0 record in the SEC race, and marks the first victory over the Bulldogs under Spurrier. The Head Ball Coach vexed the Bulldogs while he was the coach at Florida, and now personally sports a gaudy 12-3 record against the team that proudly and correctly portrays itself as having "the SEC's best record during the last six seasons" with a 54-14 record.

When asked if he thought the victory against Georgia was a major step for the Gamecocks, Hyman said, "I think it really does make a statement, because it does say that our program is making steps to become champions, and we take one step at a time. I think this is a huge step. We need to continue to do that to be in a position where we're battling for national championships."

Spurrier, on the other hand, was unwilling to go on record after the game to call the win a major step forward for the program,"It's still early in the season." Spurrier said. "We feel fortunate to have won. We have a lot of corrections to make. We have a lot of coaching to do if we have any chance for a big season."

While the coach continues to focus on improving his team, talking more about their shortcomings after the game than he did the upside of the victory, his players were not shy in proclaiming the victory a sign of better things to come. Quarterback Blake Mitchell said, "It showed we can win the big game." Running back Cory Boyd said, "I knew we could do it, but we'd never done it before. We're trying to compete for SEC championships, and this is one step. We've still got a lot to prove, but this is one big step."

The New York Times certainly noticed, with their opening paragraph about the game declaring: "The players are starting to take on the persona of their coach, Steve Spurrier, and have an ever so subtle swagger. They want to reframe the discussion of the South Carolina football program and purge their image of being an underdog and a team without enough skill to hang on in a season-long race."

The AP put it this way: "Steve Spurrier did it to Georgia again. The ol' ball coach, who beat the Bulldogs regularly while at Florida, guided South Carolina to a 16-12 upset of No. 11 Georgia on Saturday night, signaling the Gamecocks as a possible title contender in the Southeastern Conference."

Spurrier is the ultimate master of literally taking one game at a time, but it is the job of the media to look ahead, and predict how the rest of a season will shape up following a significant game. The Gamecocks are expected to take care of business this week when they face SC State, but the biggest obstacle of the season looms the following week when they take on #2 ranked LSU in their home stadium in Baton Rouge. But even that herculean task now seems to be perhaps a winnable game to some analysts. Jody Alberson of the Bleacher Report gave his early LSU-USC prediction: "USC escapes with the 23-21 score, Succop kicking the game winner with 3 seconds left on the clock. This is USC's year in the SEC."

The sportswriters that vote in the weekly AP national college football poll made the formerly unranked Gamecocks the #17 team in the nation after their victory over Georgia.

Spurrier's focus is on the end game: "One of our goals is to end the season as a ranked team," he told reporters during his weekly Sunday afternoon teleconference. "We're there now and hopefully we can stay there. But we really need to play a lot better than we did (Saturday) night if we're going to have a chance for a big year."

National accolades are nice, but the USC coaches are probably happiest with the reaction from players they are recruiting. The state of Georgia is always a fertile recruiting ground for the Gamecocks, and a win over the home state team can only help their chances with recruits from the Peach state. Stockbridge, GA lineman Randy Salmon proclaimed himself close to committing to South Carolina after their victory in Athens. Salmon was at the game as a guest of the home-standing Bulldogs, but all he could talk about after the game was South Carolina. "Georgia couldn't even score [a touchdown]," Salmon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "South Carolina's defense is much better than last year. I was happy with what I saw. I was telling everybody in the crowd that I'm playing there next year." When the AJC reporter asked him if an official commitment to the Gamecocks is forthcoming, Salmon said, "I haven't committed yet, but they are number one right now."

The Gamecocks are also gaining attention from players elsewhere in the footprint of the SEC. Spurrier attended Science Hill High School in Tennessee, but left the state to play for Florida. Now Solomon Duanah, a heralded player from Spurrier's high school alma mater is telling the local TriCitiesSports.com, "The main reason I want to play [for the Gamecocks] is I really like it there in South Carolina. After the win against Georgia, I know Steve Spurrier will keep the winning tradition for the four years I'm there if I decide to go there."

Spurrier acknowledged a win like Saturday's over a nationally-ranked team on the road could provide a boost to recruiting. "It will help a little bit," he said. "It helps show people around the country that we can play. In a little over two years we've had wins over Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. We're capable."

There are ten regular season games left to be played, but South Carolina is perched atop the SEC East rankings for now, and everyone from the Athletic Director to the youngest fan is happy about that.

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