Not-so-cocky Cock

Most coaches tend to let their teams do the talking. That's probably why Steve Spurrier is unusually quiet these days.

During his glory years at Florida the Ol' Ball Coach routinely spiced up SEC Media Days by making a few boastful comments and tossing a few clever barbs at his rivals. Now that he's averaging seven wins per year at South Carolina, however, he's measuring his words a lot more carefully.

Conceding that his actions in the old days were "a little arrogant," Spurrier added that "I probably said too many things.

"But in life when you're winning a lot - you're winning sort of big - you naturally do that. I'm not the only coach that has done that. And then when you're 7-6, like I am now, you don't have much to say.

"That's just the way it is. I'm a 7-6 sort of coach right now. I don't have all the answers and don't pretend to."

Spurrier has at least one answer, however. He knows who the starting quarterback for his Gamecocks will be this fall. Now that Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley have transferred, Stephen Garcia has the QB job almost by default. The question Spurrier can't answer is: Will Garcia be an improvement over his SC predecessors?

He SHOULD be. Garcia missed spring practice and summer workouts in 2008 due to a disciplinary suspension. He participated in both this year, so he projects to be much farther along than he was a year ago.

"If we're to have a big year, he's got to really, really play well," Spurrier said. "He's got to play a lot better than what happened last year. He really was not prepared to play well last year. Hopefully, he's much better, more ready to play."

Garcia completed 65 of 122 passes (53.3 percent) for 832 yards and 6 touchdowns last fall with 8 interceptions. He passed for a season-best 215 yards vs. LSU and ran for a season-high 86 yards vs. UAB. One of his better all-around games came against Tennessee, when he completed 9 of 19 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-6 Gamecock victory.

How much Garcia can build on last season's foundation remains to be seen.

"Certainly, experience helps," Spurrier said. "The ability to think clearly and make quick decisions helps. Training, experience, practice, practice, practice. All those things are very helpful."

Although there is no one on hand to push Garcia, Spurrier suggests that may be a positive.

"One good thing about our situation: We don't have four guys fighting it out for quarterback," the coach said. "So Stephen is going to get about all the snaps. Hopefully he can stay healthy (because) I don't know who the second guy will be right now."


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