Q&A: Spurrier previews SC State
Coach Steve Spurrier's Opening Statement:
"South Carolina State (is a) very good team. (They) went 10-2 last year. I think they're undefeated this year. Watching them on tape, they look pretty good. They've got good athletes at all the positions. (They are a) well coached team. Buddy Pugh and his guys do a super job down there. So we're looking forward to a knock down, drag out, down to the wire ball game like most of ours seem to be. But anyway, last week Travian Robertson was our lone injury. We're certainly going to miss Travian. He played very well at defensive tackle. He's one of the strongest players on our team. We're going to miss him, and hopefully the next guy in there can fill his spot and we can continue on. It should be a good game this week. We're looking forward to it."
Question: When you look at SC State, who are some of the guys that stick out? Who do you think could play Division I, SEC football?
Spurrier: "We're not a team that tries to learn all the names of all the players that we're going to play against. We sort of try to, you know, see how they play, and try and see their scheme of things. Then we try to concentrate on playing the best we can. I know their quarterback is a good player, their running back. Defensively, that's what I've been watching. They've got active guys all over the place………They've got a lot of schemes. I'm gonna tell you what, they're a little different then they were two years ago. They've got all the zone blitzes like everybody else. They're all over the place. They disguise very well. To me it's a lot like playing an SEC school. It really is."
Question: Is this the week you have to pull out the Appalachian State vs. Michigan video to show your players what can happen if you take a I-AA school too lightly?
Spurrier: "We don't get into all that. No, we don't believe in that. We go one game at a time. On your record they all count exactly the same. So we're trying to play a lot better than we played last week, especially on offense. We've got a lot of areas we need to improve to have a good season. So that's what we are concentrating on mainly right there. So if we were playing Florida, Alabama, or SC State we would have the same practice schedule. The same intensity."
Question: You mentioned you expect another knock down drag out fight. Do you think it's something you should expect to follow up the Ole Miss win with maybe putting the foot down on this kind of team and running away with it?
Spurrier: "No, it's got nothing to do with Ole Miss. That game's history. We're very fortunate, but it's history and we came out a winner. What it's got to do with is SC State is very good. You know, Florida Atlantic was very good too. We were in a dogfight with them until I guess the middle of the third quarter or something like that. But anyway, we're going to try to play a lot better. Offensively, we had a lot of problems last week. Hopefully we can line up and look like we know what we're doing and not have a lot of bad plays. We've got to teach the quarterback how to audible occasionally. We've got a play called and we get a different defense. So we've got a lot of coaching to do this week, and hopefully it will show up in the ball game."
Question: SC State has a two quarterback system. Do you have very much knowledge on both of the quarterbacks and how they play them?
Spurrier: "I know they got (Malcolm Long) the kid from Gaffney who was a heck of a high school player, I know that. I'm not all that familiar with the other player. I watched mostly their defense. You know they won 10 games last year. They won their conference. Those guys are used to winning. They're going to come in here ready to beat us. We'll get their best shot. We know that."
Question: Do you get the sense with this team that it's one that is kind of showing steady improvement, a team that you think will maybe peak later in the season as opposed to previous teams?
Spurrier: "Of course every game has its own individual part to it. Last week it was a defensive game. We've just got a lot to coach about. We're trying to get better. We're not content on who our best players are right now. We had some guys play most of the game last week who may not play most of the game this week. So we're still trying to find the guys to play every week for us that are our best players. We don't know yet."
Question: Did the long weekend help your kids get their legs back under them a little bit?
Spurrier: "I would say so probably. We had a decent practice last night, although both of our quarterbacks didn't throw a ball. I guess our third and fourth, Aramis (Hillary) and Zac (Brindise), did most of the throwing. So hopefully today Stephen (Garcia) and Reid (McCollum) will be back throwing it around a little bit."
Question: It looks like Alonzo Winfield is no longer on the two deep at spur. Will Antonio Allen and Damario Jeffery be playing more above him?
Spurrier: "Antonio Allen should be back this week. He had a slight concussion the week before and was held out, so he should be back. Damario Jeffery, yeah local kid here, he's going to be a good player. I know Coach Beamer got mad at him because he called a timeout the other night. I said, 'Well, Damario that's pretty smart, I guess we had 12 guys on the field or something.' He said, 'No, I just didn't get the call.' I said, 'You can't call timeout on that, can you? Why don't you ask the guy next to you what we're playing this play?' But he said he didn't get the call so he called a timeout on his own there. So we told him to ask the guy next to him what the coverage is next time."
Question: In your time since Duke or your earlier Florida years, do you think those I-AA or FCS teams have gotten better?
Spurrier: "I don't know if they've gotten better or we just are not the explosive offensive team that we keep hoping to be someday. I think that's the biggest thing right there is that we've just not quite been able to score quickly. But we're going to keep trying."
Question: The Appalachian State game was brought up and Northern Iowa took Iowa to the buzzer this year. Overall have they [FCS teams] been more competitive you think?
Spurrier: "Yeah, there are good teams everywhere. Yeah certainly. Anything can happen. There are so many good athletes on all theses teams. Speed! Everybody has got fast players. So they can make big plays. There are a lot of good teams everywhere."
Question: You just mentioned the possibility of Reid [McCollum] making some throws at practice. What's his health status? Last night you told us he was going to be out for a while. Has he improved dramatically in the last 24 hours?
Spurrier: "He improved last night, our trainer told us. He got a lot better last night. He was taking his medicine. He improved a lot last night, so he's much improved today. That was last night's report; today's is a lot better."
Question: Was it a step backward for the offensive line last week? Had they gotten better up to that point?
Spurrier: "Oh, I don't know if it was a step backward. Some of the guys played pretty well. T.J. Johnson played pretty well in there, and so forth. But we need to keep trying some other guys. Heck, we've got a walk on guy here, Garrett Chisholm, that we're gong to take a look at. He's a big strong young man. Have y'all heard of him? Garrett Chisholm. Number 77, he could be out there playing this week. But we're going to try and see what he can do out there today and go from there. I think we'll probably play 8 or 9 of our offensive lineman this week and keep letting them all play. Right now I guess T.J. Johnson has graded out probably the highest of all the guys. Right now I would guess Garrett (Anderson) played pretty well. Garret played well when he was in there last week and Lem (Jeanpierre) was pretty solid also."
Question: When Nate [Pepper] was in here earlier, he made the comment that the older guys have sort of taken ownership of the team. Is that something you've been striving for over the years? Are you now seeing that from your older guys?
Spurrier: "I think so. I think our captains especially have shown outstanding leadership. I say that because they have played well. Cliff Matthews and Eric Norwood are our two defensive captains. When we read off the list of players who really had outstanding games those are the two on defense every week, and Patrick Dimarco and Moe Brown are usually on the list of the few offensive guys that really had outstanding games. So when your captains and your older guys play well, then certainly they have a great chance to be leaders for you."
Question: "You have a number of offensive linemen on the roster who are juniors or seniors. You just mentioned T.J. Johnson who graded out the highest. Is it a good news/bad news situation where you have a redshirt freshman who's graded out better than all the older more experienced offensive lineman you have on the roster?
Spurrier: "I don't know the answer to that. Just that T.J. [Johnson] has graded out pretty well. We don't think what we do is real complicated, but sometimes some of our players make it complicated, or they don't get the call. Our communication needs to improve also. Our quarterback has to tell everyone the play, and sometimes they're just getting half the play. They need the complete play. So we're still working on it. Hopefully this week we can line up and everybody knows what the play is and we'll try to execute it a lot better."
Question: Kyle Nunn was spotted on the offensive line a couple times last Thursday. Could you remark on his progress?
Spurrier: "Yeah, he came in there and played pretty well. Kyle was eligible and he had been doing pretty good in practice, so Coach Wolford put him in there."
Question: Are they trying a lot of different things on the offensive line to sort of see how different things work?
Spurrier: "We're just giving players a chance to play. We're giving a lot of guys a chance to play and we'll go from there."
Question: How do you rate your touchdown productivity in the red-zone?
Spurrier: "Touchdown productivity? Terrible! It's Terrible! I don't like it. I don't like it a lot worse than you don't like it. But it is what it is right now. We're going to try not to have as many touchsowns called back and as many penalties on the two yard line. We got a holding penalty on the two this week. What happened the week before? Something happened the week before on the two yard line? Oh yeah, when we do our little quarterback sneak we can't get the guys set down there. That's pretty stupid on our part. We got a penalty against Georgia and got a penalty last week, same thing. So we're still figuring out maybe we can't hurry up and go because our guys won't get set. Maybe we can't teach them to get set because we've had a crucial penalty down there a couple times now. But we're going to keep trying to do that. We've just got to get guys on the field that will put their hand on the ground quickly and away we go. Maybe that's the answer right there instead of just saying we can't do that. And it's usually the same guy, one or two guys. That's why you keep playing different guys. But again, we need some better plays down there too. It's not all those guys. Coaching wise, I need to find some better plays at times. We left that sweep on last week that had no chance. We had about three guys outside our tight end over there. We should have been running the other way, but we did not have Stephen ready to change the play. So we're going to try and get him better prepared to change the play and things like that."
Question: Were you being a little conservative at the end of the game last week?
Spurrier: "No, I don't think we were conservative. Our defense was playing very well, and we ran the ball a little bit the first half. The second half didn't go far at all."
Question: When you came down here five years ago, did you think that in your fifth year going up against SC State you'd be suggesting that a game against SC State could come down to the wire and be a knock down drag out fight? Are you surprised that you are at that point?
Spurrier: "Am I surprised we are at that point? Not Really."
Question: Why do you think it's happened? (Follow up question to previous question)
Spurrier: "Why do I think it's happened? Because SC State is a pretty good team. We're not a bad team. We're just not an explosive team yet. We still have hopes we can be someday. But we haven't got there yet. Maybe it will happen soon. Who knows."
Question: Coach Wolford mentioned last night when we talked to him that one of the things he has learned since he has been here is that in the SEC the defenses focus a lot of energy on stopping the run, almost to the point of selling out to stop the run. Is that a new development or is that something you have always noticed since you've been coaching in this league? Were defenses like that back in the 90's or even back in the 80's?
Spurrier: "I don't have the answer for that. Every defense tries to stop the run first. Usually that's the first thing we all try to do and then go from there. Yeah, there are some opportunities to throw the ball down the field. There are opportunities, but you've got to get it off. Got to get it thrown, got to get it caught, all those kind of things which have hampered us. Getting it off, getting it thrown, getting caught, and things of that nature. Sometimes you'd like to throw it all over the place, but you start getting sacks and the quarterback starts running around and this that and the other, then you say, 'Well, we'd been better off just running and punting than going backwards and getting penalties and things like that.' So you do what you can do and go from there."
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