Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

October 8, 2012

Spurrier steadying No. 3 South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Steve Spurrier likes what undefeated South Carolina has accomplished so far. He knows, though, the third-ranked Gamecocks have plenty of games left that will determine how special the season turns out.

South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) jumped up three spots Sunday to its highest position since 1984 after a dominating 35-7 victory over No. 14 Georgia on Saturday night. The Gamecocks reached a number of milestones, winning their school-record 10th straight game and taking three straight from the Bulldogs for the first time with the sort of performance that fuels national title talk.

"We realized if we won the game last night, this could happen,'' Spurrier said.

Spurrier handled those sky-high expectations in much of his 12 seasons at Florida from 1990-2001, bringing his alma mater a national championship in 1996. Spurrier says this group of Gamecocks is his most complete and mature group since he took control of things here in 2005. All that doesn't guarantee perfection in the unpredictable world of college football.

"We certainly like where we are right now, but we're smart enough to know it's still a difficult, difficult road for us,'' Spurrier said.

That starts this week with the Gamecocks heading to No. 9 LSU to face a Tiger team angry from its season's first loss at No. 4 Florida earlier Saturday and carrying the advantage of a night game at Death Valley where the home team rarely falters.

The fired-up LSU atmosphere even stung Spurrier before, his 1997 top-ranked, defending national champions stumbling to the Tigers 28-21.

"They'll be ready for us,'' Spurrier said. "They're ready for everybody.''

Part of Spurrier's success at South Carolina is his steady approach from week to week. When he arrived, he thought too much time was spent tracking state rival Clemson and not focused on the Southeastern Conference and got both players and fans to lock on to chasing a league title.

He also knew the Gamecocks couldn't let the state's best players such as receiver A.J. Green head off to Georgia like he did before Spurrier arrived. So Spurrier landed the past four winners of the state's "Mr. Football'' award given South Carolina's top prep player. Those included last April's first-round draft pick in cornerback Stephon Gilmore and current Gamecocks stars tailback Marcus Lattimore and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Lattimore and Clowney showed their worth against the Bulldogs. Lattimore gained 109 yards - he has 467 yards and four TDs in three career games vs. Georgia - while Clowney led a defensive effort that held the SEC's highest scoring team coming in without a point the game's first 58 minutes.

Clowney said the noise from a record 85,199 people at Williams-Brice Stadium was so overwhelming, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray had to tap his center on the backside to get the snaps off - and it gave South Carolina defenders the chance to tee off. "I couldn't hear, so I knew they couldn't hear,'' Clowney said, laughing.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said South Carolina certainly played every bit as well as the LSU team that overwhelmed the Bulldogs, 42-10, in last year's SEC title game. Continuing that level of play is the big question, Richt said.

"There are still some mighty big tests for them as there are for all of us in our league,'' he said Sunday.

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones said the Gamecocks quickly got ahead by three touchdowns in the first quarter and the Bulldogs couldn't catch up.

"Being down 21-0 in the first quarter, that's hard'' to come back from, Jones said. "Especially by a team in the SEC.''

Spurrier has a rule in place, like many coaches, that his staff and players get 24 hours to celebrate success or flush out failure. Then it's back to work, no matter what happened in the previous game.

"That's the way this team works. That's the system coach Spurrier has in place and that's the way the players will handle it,'' South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said.

It might be hard to totally forget this one, especially with happy students and fans on campus telling the Gamecocks how great they've been. Spurrier understands and accepts that, too.

The last time Spurrier's Gamecocks enjoyed this large a spotlight came in 2010 following a stunning 35-21 win over then top-ranked Alabama. South Carolina then lost a week later, 31-28, at Kentucky, a defeat Spurrier blames more on a stalled second-half offense than players not being ready. "I blame the coaches for that one,'' he said.

This time, the Gamecock feature better, older leaders who've kept the team even-keeled through the high times and the low. "You really don't ever know anything until you go play the game,'' Spurrier said. "But we've got some good leaders.''

Leaders, Spurrier thinks, who'll keep locked on to the next opponent while understanding that success won't guarantee anything beyond that. "We do have a chance for a big year,'' Spurrier said. "If we continue on doing what we're doing.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0292web.jpg ‘All-State Sluggers’

    When Claremore’s Matt Whatley takes his place behind the plate tonight in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Large School East-West All-State baseball game, the former Zebra catcher will be right at home.
    Whatley, who started four years as the catcher for the Zebras, finds his final high school baseball game taking place in his future college ballpark.
    Last November, Whatley and his long-time friend, Bryce Howe, signed NCAA Division I baseball scholarships to play for the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles.
    Tonight, those dreams come true for Whatley and Jenks outfielder Cadon Owens, who will be joining his former Bearcats teammate on the East squad. Also, Verdigris' Ryan Skalnik will start at third base for the Large East All-State team.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA proposed settlement raises medical questions

    A key feature of a proposed settlement of a head-injury lawsuit against the NCAA is the creation of a $70 million fund to pay for medical evaluations of current and former college players in several sports. The provision raises some sticky medical questions.

    July 30, 2014

  • NFL: Cowboys QB Romo skips full-pad session

    The Dallas Cowboys are taking it easy with Tony Romo's back.

    Romo sat out a competitive practice for the first time at training camp Tuesday, although coach Jason Garrett said it wasn't because of any setbacks from surgery for a herniated disk in late December.

    July 30, 2014

  • OSU alum Barry Sanders helping to work with Heads Up Football

    Barry Sanders and Randy Gradishar have joined the growing list of former NFL players who want to promote USA Football's safety program, Heads Up Football.

    July 30, 2014

  • ESPN suspends Stephen Smith for comments on abuse

    ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.

    July 30, 2014

  • NFL: Ray Guy's long wait to HOF comes to an end

    Ray Guy built a Hall of Fame career of making other people wait.

    Those anxious seconds for punt returners awaiting his booming kicks were nothing compared to the more than two decades Guy had to endure before finally getting the call that he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    July 30, 2014

  • MLB: Cubs drop Rockies in 16 innings

    Both the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies ran out of relief pitchers in a marathon game. The Rockies then turned to a starter. The Cubs used a catcher - and won.

    John Baker scored the winning run in the bottom of the 16th inning after pitching a scoreless top half, and the Cubs overcame a three-run deficit to beat Colorado 4-3 on Tuesday night.

    July 30, 2014

  • NFL: Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.

    Such guidance could be valuable for the St. Louis Rams, even if by all accounts they have welcomed Michael Sam into the fold.

    July 30, 2014

  • MLB: Vin Scully returns for 66th season as Dodgers announcer

    Vin Scully is staying in the booth for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The 86-year-old Hall of Fame announcer will return for his record 66th season with the team in 2015. The announcement was made by in Korean, Spanish and English by players Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner on the Dodger Stadium video board in the second inning of Tuesday night's game against Atlanta.

    July 30, 2014