Spurrier introduces VanGorder, Rychleski

Steve Spurrier officially introduced new assistant coaches Brian VanGorder and Ray Rychleski Tuesday evening at Williams-Brice Stadium. Spurrier announced the hiring of the two coaches three weeks ago, but Tuesday marked the first appearance of the pair as Gamecocks. If there was a key word for the two coaches, it was "fundamentals."


When coaches take over a new job, they frequently preach about being more aggressive. Defensive coaches promise they will blitz more often, and special teams coaches say they will block kicks and score touchdowns on returns. Of course, when the games start, those promises disappear in the face of a desire not to lose. Gambling tactics lose as often as they win, and coaches know this. Both VanGorder and Rychleski were asked several leading questions about blitzing and blocking kicks, but they quickly brushed such boasting in favor of a steadier approach.

"I consider myself a fundamentalist," VanGorder said. "Sometimes it's hard to talk about overall scheme because football is about being able to take scheme and adapt, especially at the college game because you get so many offenses each week. The scheme itself has to fall within the system, but I want to be fundamental. You've got to look at all the variables that go into a game. Whether you [pressure the quarterback] with rushing four, or whether you do it with rushing five or six really is determined by who the opponent is."

"My one saying is fundamentals over gimmicks," Rychleski said. "Let's be sound fundamentally. On offense I love to run reverses; I love to do trick plays because you get 70 plays a game. You might only punt the ball five times a game, so those five times lets be fundamentally sound."

Following his hiring, VanGorder spoke with the media on a teleconference from the Atlanta Falcons' training complex in Flowery Branch, Ga. VanGorder was the linebackers' coach with the Falcons, and chose to remain with the team through the end of the season. Since joining the Gamecocks, VanGorder has begun watching film of last season's defense. He has seen a great deal of talent, but what he did not see was consistency.

"I've got to be honest, when I first put the film on I was a little nervous and uptight about what I was expecting to see," VanGorder said. "As I watch the film I see a group of guys that, at times, play very good football. Physically and athletically they're a group that showed they're capable of shutting down some very good SEC teams. My impression was just a mark of inconsistency. That will be an area that we've really got to pay attention to, where we're not great for three quarters or great every other game, but we want to be good and solid each week we play."

When he was hired away from Maryland, Rychleski released a statement and did individual interviews with several reporters. Like VanGorder, though, Tuesday was the first time he met with the media in Columbia. As the coordinator of the "forgotten" third unit of the team, Rychleski knows that convincing players that special teams are important is the first part of his job.

"They've got to come up to you and say, ‘Hey, Coach, did you see that [special teams] play the other night?'" he explained. "You want to watch all those plays that make a difference in the ballgame. A lot of people don't watch, but [they] make a difference. If you get the kids to buy into that, they start saying, we'd better be darn good on special teams. There's got to be a want to and a desire. Those backups, they want to play. You want them to come to you and say ‘Can I play?'"

Rychleski said that he would prefer not to have Ryan Succop do all the kicking, as he did the past two years. However, somebody else will have to beat out Succop in order to offer relief.

"I don't like that all the time," he explained. "You like to have to share the duties. There are some other guys on the team that can hopefully take one of those jobs away from him, but the best players play. Special teams are all about specialists. You can have 10 great blockers and one lousy returner and have a lousy return game. You can have 10 average guys, walk-ons, and one great returner and be pretty darn good."

When asked why they wanted to coach at Carolina, both VanGorder and Rychleski cited the fan support. In particular, Rychleski joked that he had never seen as many media members at a press conference as he did Tuesday evening.

"I was in the ACC for 15 years," he said, "and at Maryland for 7, where we were in the fourth largest media market in the country. I've never seen more people at a press conference […], and in our heyday we were winning 10-plus games a year. It's a credit to you all and that's one of the reasons why I'm excited to be here. It's amazing to me. I'm overwhelmed right now."

"I played here three times [twice with Georgia and once with Central Florida], and I think the thing that really stood out to me was the excitement on game day," said VanGorder. "I thought the fan base was really tremendous. I felt a certain electricity at the stadium that was really special."

Notes:

- Clad in a purple shirt, Spurrier said he was honoring LSU for winning the SEC's second consecutive BCS Championship.

- Spurrier also noted how creative LSU's offense was at spreading out the Ohio State defense and spreading the ball around. He repeated something he said throughout last season, saying that he thinks a mobile quarterback is a necessity in college football today. "We've got a kid here now, Stephen Garcia, that can run with the ball. We're going to have a running quarterback offense here and there." He added that he hopes Chris Smelley can run that offense as well.

- The coaching roles under the new coordinators have yet to be determined. The primary question is what position Shane Beamer will coach and what his role will be on special teams. Rychleski said he fully expects Beamer to be a valuable asset to the special teams.

- As he concluded his remarks, Spurrier said to the fans, "I want to ask our fans to keep screaming on 3rd and 18, 3rd and 21, and 3rd and 24. Someday we're going to make those stops."


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