Spurrier, Gamecocks turn attention to FAU

The Gamecocks were back in action on the practice fields Monday night, preparing for this weekend's game against the Florida Atlantic Owls. Despite a tough loss against the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens on Saturday night, the coaching staff and players were hard at work trying to bounce back and be positive about the season that lies ahead.


After the disappointing loss to Georgia on Saturday night, Coach Steve Spurrier promised that Gamecock fans can continue to be optimistic, and expect a good product on the field this weekend against Florida Atlantic.

"We're going to try to play our best game of the year, for ourselves and for all Gamecocks, and we're looking forward to Saturday night, 7 o'clock. We're going to try to see if we can really play like a good ball team."

Spurrier also said the Gamecocks do indeed have a good team, they just have to consistently play like that.

"We've got a pretty good team here if we play like it," Spurrier said. "We don't play like it all the time, and that's why we struggled."

As far as moving on from the tough loss over the weekend, Spurrier staetd that would be no problem for his team.

"Like I've said earlier, we've won one game before and lost one before, and that's just the way it is. (We) can't get it back, and we're going to try to play better this week."

Despite the high offensive output, Spurrier said his team still has a long way to go to reach its potential. He stressed the fact that the Gamecocks had to convert their opportunities, and did not do so all of the time against Georgia.

"It was a little bit better, but it wasn't anything super. We turned about 50 points into whatever it was, but anyway that game's history. We don't need to go into all the details, but we didn't play well enough to win."

One of the most costly areas for the Gamecocks was their special teams, specifically the kickoff coverage. After giving up 252 yards on 7 returns and a touchdown against the Dawgs, Spurrier said that fans could expect some changes in that department.

"There could be a few changes, certainly a few changes, and we'll see how that goes."

Despite some looking at Florida Atlantic as an easy opponent, Spurrier noted that FAU will present a real challenge for the Gamecocks. He said the team has to play at a high level in order to beat the Owls from the Sun Belt Conference.

"Atlantic is a team that won their bowl game last year. They beat Central Michigan, the team that beat Michigan State on Saturday. They've got good players, and we're going to need to play well to beat them. Howard Shnellenberger has put together some athletes down there. (There are) a lot of athletes in South Florida, and they've got their share of them."

Some fans were very encouraged by the progress of quarterback Stephen Garcia, who threw for over 300 yards on Saturday night for the first time in his USC career. However, Spurrier said that the sophomore signal caller still has a long way to go in order to become a consistent winner at South Carolina, but he is on the right path.

"Stephen didn't play that great, he played better. A lot of plays he can still do better. We're trying to coach him to be a really, really outstanding quarterback, which he has the potential to be. He's on the way."

Finally, the Head Ball Coach insisted that several areas of the Gamecock team need to improve as well. Areas such as the receivers, offensive line, defense, and special teams were those that were singled out by Spurrier. Also, he noted that fans could expect some offensive line changes later in the week.

"Receivers need to play a lot better, the line needs to block a lot better. We need to get a lot better to have a good team this year. Defense needs to get better, obviously we struggled a bit there. Special teams struggled, we've got a lot of room for improvement."


Mangus: Garcia continuing to grow

According to quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus, Stephen Garcia continued to grow throughout Saturday night's contest. He stated that Garcia's maturation is part of a process, and that the quarterback was deeply disappointed with how the game turned out.

"He had a good one, he didn't have a great one. We didn't win the game. It was an improvement, it was progress, but it wasn't perfect," said Mangus. There was a lot of positives to take from it, and that's what I'm going to focus on all this week."

Mangus also said that one of the things he was most encouraged by was Garcia's ability to make plays out of the pocket once protection broke down.

"He missed a couple, but I thought what he did the best was move around the pocket. He showed some good throws on the move, didn't make them all, but was more accurate on the move than he has been. He kept his eyes down the field."

Mangus was excited about the opportunities to make big plays with Garcia on the move.

"He's growing, and he grew some more Saturday night. I thought he did the best job he's done so far of keeping his eyes down the field and making some plays. And hopefully as we all work on those scramble plays, we can hit some plays deep down the field when he pops out of that pocket."

Despite not converting on the final fourth down play, Mangus stated that was not the play that cost them, noting that the Gamecocks had several opportunities to convert drives into points, and failed to do so.

"It's one of those you wish you had it back, but that wasn't the play (that ended it). We had numerous chances, and we just have to capitalize when we get an opportunity, and we had them throughout the game."

Notes:

- After spraining his ankle against Georgia, defensive tackle Nathan Pepper said following Monday's practice that he hopes to be back by the Ole Miss game, and would be ready to play "whenever I can."

- With Pepper sidelined with injury and Ladi Ajiboye suspended for one more game, that leaves Travian Robertson, Melvin Ingram, and Kenny Davis available in the defensive tackle rotation.

- After receiving about 10 snaps against Georgia, Pepper said that redshirt freshman Kenny Davis would be able to play a lot more this weekend.

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