Spurrier: We'll be ready to play Arkansas

As Ryan Succop's field goal sailed wide right, the Gamecocks watched in disbelief. After a first half in which they could do nothing right, and a second half when they could seemingly do nothing wrong, that football represented another loss for Carolina, another game where a handful of mistakes cost them a win, another close loss in Knoxville, and another loss to a team it should have beaten.


The players seemed to have no trouble putting the loss behind them, perhaps because they don't realize how seldom the Gamecocks have had a chance to defeat the Volunteers. Speaking on Monday evening, Kenny McKinley said the loss was behind him.

"We all overcame it earlier today," said McKinley, "and we've just got to move on."

During his Tuesday press conference, Steve Spurrier suggested something different, that maybe the Head Ball Coach has not quite gotten that loss out of his system.

"[Coaches] can't sleep much after losses," he said at one point.

The missed opportunities are what drive Spurrier mad. Against Tennessee, the Gamecocks threw one interception in their own territory, had an interception and a fumble deep in Tennessee territory, a roughing the kicker penalty, missed two open receivers on third down, failed to recover two fumbles on the Volunteers' game tying drive, and topped it all off with the aforementioned missed field goal.

"One fumble recovery or one better throw or one made or missed field goal and we wouldn't be in the dumps," said Spurrier. "Our guys can get out of it quickly. We'll be ready to play Arkansas. We can't undo what happened, but we've got a chance to still do some big things. Who knows what's going to happen down the road. A lot can still happen in the SEC."

When asked if the missed opportunities continue to frustrate him, it was clear that Spurrier has not gotten out of it as quickly as he thinks the players have.

"It does [frustrate me]," he admitted. "The opportunity was certainly there the last two weeks, but it didn't work out. We didn't play well enough to win. We're not the first team to lose one that we coulda-shoulda [won]. We'll have to accept it and move on and hope that someday the offense can score a touchdown in overtime to win a game."

Spurrier is known for his intense competitive nature, and it was in evidence during his press conference. A coach who expects nothing short of perfection from his players, Spurrier's sideline antics are legendary. From his visor-throwing to headset-tossing, there is a reason broadcasters keep a camera trained on the Ball Coach. If he had had a play sheet during his press conference, he likely would have tossed that.

"I'm embarrassed that we can't fall on a fumble," he said, his voice rising. "It ricocheted off us the other day. I think Casper [Brinkley] got that last sack, knocked it out of [Erik] Ainge's hands, and we didn't have anybody around. Freddie Brown fumbles, and we've got two guys that can't tackle."

"We should have got the guy down at midfield, and he runs all the way down to the 2-yard line," Spurrier said smacking the table in frustration. He then composed himself and said, "I wasn't going to get mad today. Let's talk about something else. We're not a real great team. We don't do things that good teams do. We haven't coached very well, and our players have not played very smartly or very disciplined. That's why we've lost us a couple here that we could have [won]."

Despite Spurrier's frustration over the missed opportunities that have plagued the Gamecocks recently, he still spoke optimisticly about the three remaining games, and his future at Carolina.

"I don't get much encouragement out of losing a game we had so many opportunities to win," he said. "We don't need to dwell on it. It's just like the Vandy game; we don't need to dwell on it. Hopefully someday we can do well when the game is on the line. We're just not a great team right now. We've got a chance to grow into a really great team I believe. We're just not quite there right now."

"We're not out of the SEC; a lot can happen in the next four weeks," he added. "We've made progress with this team, but it may not show up a bunch this year. We finished 8-5 last year. I don't know what our record will be this year, but as far as the building of our team, we're in pretty good shape."


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