Spurrier More Positive Friday Night

After two full hours of warm-ups, drills, and some smash mouth plays, Steve Spurrier declared his defense looked "pretty good tonight." He set forth a game plan to help the offense "look decent" Saturday when the Gamecocks will hold their second scrimmage of the preseason at 4:15. Read inside for an in-depth report with comments from Spurrier.

One day after stating "Nobody thinks we're worth a crap," when asked to assess the football program with his fifth season as head coach about to begin, Steve Spurrier was much more positive following's Friday night's workout when he made the point again that the team has only seven seniors this season and will rely on a lot of freshmen.

"There are a lot of teams that would have liked being 7-5 and in a January 1 bowl game last year," he said. "I've been apologizing for a lousy year, but that's not a lousy year by most standards. (But) we'd like to do better."

Midway through his fifth fall practice as the head coach at South Carolina, Spurrier showed his comfort with the Palmetto State media that covers his team when he opened the second scrimmage of the preseason for the media to observe. He initially said they had to close the scrimmage because they may run some plays that they don't want people in the stands to videotape, but then agreed to allow the local media in as long as there are no recordings or live updates given of the scrimmage.

The age of social networking as part of sports reporting is now fully recognized, as USC specifically forbade "Facebook, Twitter, (and) blogs."

The scrimmage will still be closed to the public. It will be the second of three scrimmages planned this fall.

After days of brutal heat and others of scattered rain, Friday night was a pleasantly warm southern evening as the team continued to battle amongst themselves for starting spots in the season opener against NC State. Asked whether any starting assignment will be decided after Saturday's scrimmage, Spurrier said, "It's too early. We'll have one more big scrimmage the following week. Hopefully we'll get an idea of some players that can play."

Running game coordinator Eric Wolford indicated they hoped Saturday would go a long way towards making those decisions as to which players really wanted to be starters.

When commenting on Friday evening's practice session, Spurrier noted that the defense is still ahead of the offense, and the coaches may have the defense scale back some of their looks in practice.

"The offense struggled a bit," Spurrier said. "We've probably got too many plays right now for our offensive guys. We seem confused at times. We'll hopefully condense down a little bit and see if we can't look decent in the scrimmage tomorrow. We want to see guys play their assignment, make a play or two here or there, see if the quarterbacks can make good decisions. Our decision making and our timing have not been very good lately."

Reid McCollum has regained the the #2 quarterback behind Stephen Garcia according to Spurrier, and the Head Ball Coach indicated those two will take most of the snaps on Saturday.

"Reid and Stephen Garcia will probably do most of it. They're probably the top two (quarterbacks). Aramis (Hillary) is good in the run game. Every now and then a ball gets away from him a bit, but he's doing ok."

Lest Gamecock fans lose hope in their offense, Spurrier also pointed out the good things he saw during the night's practice.

"There are some encouraging things," he said. "Tonight on offense there wasn't a lot except for one passing drill with the DBs. Our receivers actually ran some good routes. Stephen and Reid made some good throws. That was with nobody rushing and just man-to-man. Unfortunately football's not like that. You've got a bunch of zones and guys coming from everywhere, and the quarterbacks need to learn how to play with people all around them in sort of a chaos situation. It takes practice and good decision making."

After struggling for much of the 2008 season, the offensive line has been a major focus during the fall practice, and will continue to be focused on during the scrimmage. Spurrier and Offensive line coach Eric Wolford acknowledged that the line has not yet made the improvement desired during camp, and indicated that every position is still up for grabs.

"We're looking for guys that can play their assignments and block somebody," Spurrier said. "Our blocking has not been real superb, so we're hoping it will be above average. We also understand that you're not going to block them every play, and that's where the quarterbacks have got to make a play. They have got to throw the ball with a guy running at them every now and then. We're learning how to do that. You're going to get hit playing quarterback, so stand in there and deliver the ball."


- Spurrier acknowledged that redshirt freshman walk-on tight end Andrew Power has decided to transfer to Georgia Southern. His departure leaves the Gamecocks with three tight ends in camp: Starter Weslye Saunders, true freshman Justice Cunningham, and redshirt freshman Mike Triglia. "He's a good kid," said Spurrier. "We wish him the best. I think he's going to Georgia Southern, and I think he's got a chance to go down there and play."

- On Leon Mackey's status, Spurrier initially indicated that the defensive lineman had cleared the NCAA clearinghouse and that the decision was now up to the USC admissions department, but then backed off when specifically asked about the clearinghouse, stating he wasn't sure of that.

- Lamar Scruggs, Mike Triglia, and Addison Williams all shed their yellow jerseys and were back in regular jerseys on Friday, participating at full speed. Seven players remained in the protective status yellow jerseys on Friday: Blake Baxley, Dion LeCorn, Wilkes Goolsby, Nathan Pepper, Jay Spearman, Chaz Sutton, and Kevin White.

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