Q&A: Spurrier previews Vandy

Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday, discussing not only this weekend's game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, but also the University of South Carolina's partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project and Under Armour. Read inside for a full Q&A from Tuesday's press conference.


Opening Statement:

"We're honored to be a part of the partnership between Under Armour and the Wounded Warriors project that supports our men and women who risk their lives to keep us all safe. We want all our fans to show their support of the team and the Wounded Warrior Project by going out and getting the Under Armour Wounded Warrior gear at the bookstores and fill Williams-Brice Stadium on the 14th. The proceeds from the jerseys and so forth will all go to the Wounded Warrior project. So, we're honored to be associated with these brave men, and I like that word, courage. We're trying to encourage our football players to play with a little more courage the way these guys do, in what they do for our country. So, we're happy to be associated, hopefully it'll be a real big program that gets great support from our fans as we go the next month here or so."

"Vandy is a team that has struggled a little bit on offense. They're still very good on defense like they've been the last several years. They're not bad on offense. They haven't thrown the ball real well, but they have run it. They run it better than we have. They play really good defense, their defense is I think about sixth in the conference. They're a good, tough bunch of guys that make very few mistakes. If you're going to beat them, you have to beat them, they're not good at beating themselves. We've got to play well, and we're looking forward to the game here Saturday night. It's a big game for us and we all know the importance of the game. Hopefully we'll be prepared to play our best one of the year. That's what it may take to beat Vandy Saturday night."

Question: Coach, last week you said going into the Alabama game the pressure was on Alabama, are the roles reversed this week?

Spurrier: "Oh I don't know, the pressure is on us to just play the best we can every week. We don't get into too much what happened last year or the year before. They outplayed us the last two years, that's why they've beaten us, simple as that. They've outplayed us, out-coached us, out-hit us. They were better than we were. Give them credit. We're going to try to play better this year, try to coach better, see if we can't come out on top against Vanderbilt."

Question: Coach, what is Moe Brown's status for the game this Saturday?

Spurrier: "Yeah, Moe got a severe concussion last week as you know. The doctors nowadays keep a player out at least two weeks. So he's going to be a two week out player and hopefully be back for the Tennessee game the next week. Yeah Moe's out; Jason Barnes will start at his position, and he's ready to go. Moe will be on the sideline being a good cheerleader for our team this week. He does a good job with that."

Question: Coach, how successful do you see the running game as being this season?

Spurrier: "Well, we played against the No. 1 or 2 defense in the nation last week and we got smashed pretty good up front, although our pass protection generally was pretty good last game. I'm not bashing our offensive line here, we didn't run it very far. Had a bunch of sacks. We still had way too many sacks, which makes our running game sort of not look quite as good as it is. But we're still trying to run and we're going to try to run, mix it up this week. Vandy's pass defense is actually ranked ahead of ours, I don't know if y'all knew that or not. But they're second in the conference and we're third in pass defense. So, we've got to mix it up and try to play a lot better than we have the last few times out."

Question: What's been the biggest difference in overall attitude you've noticed from the team since they lost to Vanderbilt two years ago?

Spurrier: "Well, I don't know. Every year's a new team. That's what you've got to realize, it's not the same guys that were here two years ago or even last year. You've got different players, especially this year. We've got a whole bunch of new starters on offense and defense and the attitude has been good, been very good. And team spirit's been very good I think, and we've been fortunate to win several close games, and that's why we're 5-2. We're not sitting here moping that we could've beat Alabama. We had some chances in that game, and we had chances in the Georgia game, we lost. We also had some chances to lose about three of those games we won, so anyway, we are where we are and we need to go play well and try to improve this week as we play Vanderbilt."

Question: Steve, the last two years against you guys, Vandy has gotten pretty good pressure on you and has gotten to the quarterback. Did they do that primarily through stunts and blitzing or base defense?

Spurrier: "Their defensive end, No. 90, is a very good player. I don't have his name right now, but he has given us some pressure. They're a zone blitz team. They do it very well. They do it every week. They make very few mistakes. They're in position where they're supposed to be. You've got to execute to beat them. We had more yards than they did last year, but that doesn't determine the winner. I think we had more turnovers each of the last two years, and that's one big reason. But they just outplayed us, that's all you can say."

Question: Steve, considering that you had gone 14-0 against Vanderbilt, what was the biggest jolt to you personally as a head coach losing to them the first time or losing to them two straight years?

Spurrier: "Oh I don't know that either one of them was a big jolt. Just like the Kentucky game, we managed to beat those guys, but gosh they could've beaten us several of those that we've won. I think we all know as close as some of our teams are, one or two plays determine it. Coaches can only control so much. I know you guys think I can control everything that happens out there, but it just doesn't happen that way. Sometimes it happens good, sometimes it doesn't. We're going to try to play a little bit smarter as far as turnovers are concerned. That's been a problem in our losses, and it is in most losses usually. I think we all know, we're a team that's not unbeatable by anybody. You know, South Carolina State could have beat us with a play or two here. If we don't hit those big passes in the third quarter. We're not a real dominant team. I think we're a pretty good team. We can play with almost anybody, but we've not dominated anybody. We've got to play harder. We've got to play with a lot of courage, effort and smarts. If we can do that I'll be happy with our team. As coaches that's what you look for, you look for your guys to play up to their ability and play their assignments, play with great effort and courage, and if we do that then let the win-loss fall where it may. So that's what as a coach we're concerned about, trying to get our guys to do that."

Question: Coach, how well do you know Bobby Johnson, and what's your impression of him?

Spurrier: "I think Bobby's done an excellent job there. I know him a little bit, I don't know him as well as maybe Eric Hyman. But you know, he's a South Carolina native from Columbia here. They've been very competitive at Vandy. That's a difficult job, as we all know. And their schedule is just as tough as ours usually every year. You know, we all talk about our tough schedule, they're right there in the Eastern Division with us. They play Georgia Tech out of conference and we played NC State. So I think Georgia Tech has proven to be better than NC State this year. So they've got a tough schedule and they've lost some close games, but those players play hard and play smart. And that's a reflection of a coach that's doing a pretty good job."

Question: After seven games, what's your impression of receiver production so far after losing Kenny (McKinley) and Jared (Cook)? It seems like it's been a different guy every week.

Spurrier: "Well, we've got guys that hadn't ever played much before, so we're learning as we go. Certainly Alshon (Jeffery) has come on to be a starter at one of our wideout positions. He and Jason Barnes will start this week. Either D.L. Moore or Tori (Gurley) will be the other guy in the three wide receiver formation. But we've got a new team this year. They're doing okay. We've got to get the ball to them a little bit better. Our quarterback has had some good plays here and there and some we wish were a little bit better, so we're working on it. We're not a finished product by any means. We don't look like Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints back there, let's put it that way. I love watching those guys play, there's no hesitation. It's fun watching those guys when you get a chance."

Question: Coach, it's your fifth year now, what's your impression (as far as) the progress of this team?

Spurrier: "Progress is pretty good, I think. I didn't get mad at all last week after a few errant plays. I got mad in the Kentucky game. Ron Morris reminded me I did throw my headset and visor off one time after a play. I try not to do that, I don't like to act upset on the sideline. I tried to remain calm on the sideline last game, and you know, the way some of our players play, it's going to happen. We live with it, try to bounce back. You always keep an eye on the future when you're in college. We're pumped up about some guys that are going to be here in the future. But again this is the year right now, and we're trying to get our players to play at a higher level."

Question: Coach, you mentioned that Vanderbilt is second in the league in pass defense, why have they been so successful back there considering they lost D.J. Moore to the NFL after last season?

Spurrier: "I think they've got three starters back, guys that have played a lot. So he's the only one I think that was a senior last year. They play the same schemes, they play them over and over again, and they play them well. They handle enough man-to-man, pure zone blitzes, and disguise them well and so forth. Their defensive line is good. I asked Coach Wolford, why are those guys so good on the defensive line? He said they're strong guys and they look like they all probably bench press 400 pounds. And they play with excellent leverage. They don't play low and all that kind of stuff, (they're) well coached. So I think that's one big reason that Vandy has played so well on defense the last several years. They've got some strong guys in there."

Question: Steve, were you aware at all, I think Eric (Hyman) had addressed this also, with Alabama pumping in some artificial noise before third down, which I think technically is against SEC policy. You all had to cut out the "rooster crow" a few years ago. Were you aware of it?

Spurrier: "I wasn't aware of it; I had the headset on so crowd noise doesn't really hit me. The only thing I saw, that I've never seen before, their holder on extra point field goals, he had a little piece of white tape. I didn't know it until I was watching the video the other day. And he put it down, and that was their spot. And you know, the guy kicked it, and then he grabbed it, I had never seen that before. So I think we've got to call the head of officials and see if that's legal. I didn't know you could put a little piece of white tape down for where your spot is on extra point field goals. Maybe it's legal, I don't know. That was the first time I'd ever seen that. But no, I didn't know about the crowd noise."

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