Spurrier: "The most meaningful game"

Steve Spurrier keeps his eyes on the prize: the SEC championship. He talked on his weekly call-in show about Thursday night's game against the #8 ranked Kentucky Wildcats, and everything that will affect his team's being in the hunt for the SEC crown. Read inside for Spurrier's comments leading up to the biggest home game to date of his tenure at South Carolina.


On how important a game this is:

"I said earlier in the week, I think it's the most meaningful game – I don't know about the biggest game. Hopefully, the biggest one's coming down the road. But meaningful. Since we were fortunate enough to beat Georgia, we are in the division hunt. We can play with Kentucky. We're favored, for some reason. We can play with Vanderbilt, and Florida. They didn't look all that super against Auburn, although they're a very good team, and Tennessee is a good team. So we think we can play with everybody, and whether or not we can beat them, who knows."

"That's why we go play, and I'm just hoping and believing that our team will improve about right now like we've done most of the seasons. About that fifth game we start getting a little bit better, the line comes together. We've got Seaver Brown in there and James Thompson and they played okay. They played better than the other guys have been playing. So if our quarterbacks can have just initially some decent protection, I think we can hit some passes here and there."

On Kentucky's offense:

"They're an excellent offensive team. It will be the best offense we've faced thus far. Our secondary guys are going to be tested. This is the first really good passing team we've faced all year. Most everybody else just comes out and started running at us. We have to make sure we stop the run first. That's the key against any good offensive team. They're a very good running team. They have a balanced offense. They were trailing in the fourth quarter of both games and won both of them. That's the difference between 5-0 and 3-2."

On USC's pass defense vs. the UK offense:

"We're preparing to stop them, but we realize we may not be able to stop them all the time. You don't stop good offenses all the time. They're going to hit some balls here and there. We're going to try to keep them out of the end zone. That's one area of our defense that's pretty good. We have kept teams out of the end zone pretty well. We have it to mix it up (defensively). That's how you stop good teams. We want to put pressure on them and get a hand in the quarterback's face. We think we have a pretty good plan."

"We have kept teams out of the end zone pretty well, really since I've been here most of the games, and none of them have got out of hand too bad. Our defense has played well for the most part against Kentucky the last two years. We're a lot better team than we were two years ago and they're a lot better. It's sort of neat South Carolina and Kentucky have a big game in the conference and in the nation."

On USC's rush defense vs. the UK offense:

"They're a good run team too. You have to stop the run first of any good offense, and then go after the pass and put pressure on the quarterback. Everybody knows that. You have to mix it up and try to keep them off-balance a little bit. Our offense needs to play well and stay out there and have some long, time-consuming drives."

On special teams play:

"We can't go out there and mess around and punt and have turnovers like we did in the South Carolina State game and expect to give ourselves a chance to win. We need to play well in all three phases of the game and we should. We've improved, I think, a little bit. We're excited about playing this game."

On getting the plays off quicker:

"I talked to Chris this week. Sometimes we get the play to him quickly, but by the time he gets up there and they all stand around, and he tells me the linemen have to make their calls, I said wait a minute, you just say, "Set, hut, hut," and "we're going," and quit waiting on all these guys. So you see me over there saying, "Go on! Get the play going. So sometimes they think we maybe need to audible, or I don't know they're thinking sometimes. Our quarterbacks need to get up there and talk faster. Talk fast. If you talk fast, you got time to make a change. If you don't talk very fast, you have to go with whatever was called. I mean, football is not rocket science. It really isn't. They got too many guys over here, you know, run the other way. They got too many guys over there, throw it the other way. It's really pretty simple, but sometimes we make it too complicated."

On getting Chris Culliver more involved:

"We've got him returning kick-offs now, we got a few plays here and there for him. And we're hoping someday soon he's going to learn his pass patterns so he can get out there and fly down the field, running pass routes and so forth. But he's got a ways to go, really, as a wide receiver. He actually played defensive back in high school... (As) a wide receiver...he needs to catch thousands of balls in the off-season, and in the summer he needs to concentrate on running routes exactly right. So he's got a little ways to go as a wide receiver, but you're right as far as a kick returner, he can make some stuff happen. He hits at full speed, he's a tough, courageous kid, and we're trying to use him the best we can, and we give him some little sweeps, and reverses and stuff like that. But, hopefully someday, he's going to develop into a topflight wide receiver. He loves to play. He hasn't played much wide receiver, and we're trying to train him that. But Chris Culliver, he doesn't catch those punts as well. He dropped the kick-off last week, picked it up and got back to the thirty anyway, but when he starts catching those punts in practice very well, we'll probably put him back there catching punts."

On Chris Smelley running the ball:

"He came running out of there a little bit, which is helpful. I always like a quarterback running four or five times a game, but not a lot more. Yeah he can run. He can avoid some guys and get out of there. You can get some big plays when the quarterback comes out of the pocket and bounces around the line of scrimmage. And so hopefully we can get some plays like that in the coming games."

"(Chris) is a little bit more mobile than our other quarterbacks have been. Chris is a good passer. He can move around a little bit, but we're not going to ask him to run all over the place. We got Cory Boyd and Mike Davis to run the ball. We got Leonard Stafford to block, so hopefully our guards and our offensive line will improve like they've done really the last two years we've been here. We usually get better in the offensive line. Hopefully, someday soon we can start with a very good offensive line the first game of the season, but it hasn't happened yet."

On receiver Joe Hills:

"Joe Hills is a freshman we played a little bit last week. You know I still think his knee bothers him, so he can't really cut and go, but hopefully in a week or so he's going to be able to help. His hands are as good as anybody on the team. He's got big hands, the ball sticks in there nicely. We're going to get him ready to play probably the middle, latter part of this year."

On receivers Dion Lecorn and Freddie Brown:

"People don't know much about him (Lecorn) yet, but he's going to be a good receiver for us. And of course, Freddie Brown's getting a little quicker. I like the way Freddie's played the last week or so. He had two big catches last week. We're just going to send our guys out and we're developing confidence in those other receivers that they can make plays also."

On which uniforms will be worn Thursday:

"We're going to wear our traditional garnet tops and white pants. We've been pretty good in those at home this year. So we're going to try our best to wear those every game this year, and that is our school colors, and our traditional colors. We like those Under Armour uniforms we have, and hopefully we can really develop some tradition in some positive outcomes in wearing the garnet and white. I like the helmet. We like the block C. We like everything about it that's traditional about Carolina."

"When I got the job here, I got a whole bunch of letters about what the fans wanted. They wanted to be called "Carolina," they loved the Block C, and they love garnet jerseys and white, and that's traditionally what we are, so that's who we should be, I think."


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