Offensive problems not getting Spurrier down
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 7:03 pm
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Steve Spurrier is taking a positive outlook on South Carolina’s season, even if he’s not that crazy about how the 14th-ranked Gamecocks have played this year.
Spurrier’s been frustrated for most of the season with South Carolina’s offense, twice benching expected — and now dismissed — starting quarterback Stephen Garcia for Connor Shaw. The receivers have not gotten as involved as Spurrier wants and South Carolina’s best offensive option, star tailback Marcus Lattimore, was lost for the season with a serious knee injury in last week’s game with Mississippi State.
Still, Spurrier said he’s very encouraged that his players have hung together, continued to work and forged bonds with each other that have led to a 6-1 start, the Gamecocks’ best opening in four years.
“At least our guys believe we’re never out of the game,” Spurrier said Tuesday.
There’ve been plenty of reasons this season for the Gamecocks (4-1 Southeastern Conference) to throw in the towel, particularly in the last week.
• The school kicked Garcia off the team for failing an alcohol test after he agreed to zero-tolerance policy as part of his return from a fifth suspension, according to Garcia’s father, Gary.
• Spurrier gained unwanted headlines with his rant against a local sports columnist that’s drawn more than 300,000 views on YouTube.com.
• Last Sunday, the team learned that Lattimore had torn a ligament in his left knee when a Mississippi State defender rolled on him as he was blocking downfield for Bruce Ellington.
The Gamecocks next play at Tennessee on Oct. 29.
Spurrier told his players they should count their blessings after leaving Mississippi State with a 14-12 victory to stay undefeated on the road this season.
That’s a far different message than Spurrier delivered the last time his Gamecocks opened this strongly in 2007.
Spurrier joked to reporters then that despite qualifying for a bowl with its sixth victory, there were few celebrations near campus because South Carolina was poised for bigger things.
The Gamecocks followed with five straight losses to finish at 6-6 and miss a bowl. Published in The Messenger 10.19.11