Head ball coach, Gamecocks seeking even more

Steve Spurrier came to South Carolina six seasons ago hoping to
achieve things the Gamecocks had never done before.

And after crossing a couple more of those off the to-do list,
the Gamecocks’ head ball coach says his team’s goals aren’t close
to being reached.

No. 17 South Carolina is heading to its first Southeastern
Conference championship game after winning the East division by
ending an 0-12 streak at Florida, 36-14, on Saturday night. Now,
Spurrier wants the Gamecocks seeking bigger prizes.

”Once your horizons are expanded, then that’s where you’ve got
to stay. You don’t want to go backwards,” Spurrier said Sunday.
”We haven’t pushed this season near as far as we hope to.”

The Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) moved up five spots in the latest
rankings.

With the SEC finished, the Gamecocks have plenty of milestones
in play. They end can end the regular season with nine victories,
something done just twice in 116 previous years of football. They
can win two straight over bitter rival Clemson, which hasn’t been
accomplished since they took three in a row from 1968-70. And, of
course, the biggest prize left is out there when South Carolina
heads to the Georgia Dome in three weeks to face No. 2 Auburn for
the SEC championship.

”We do have a shot at winning the SEC. It’ll be difficult,”
Spurrier said. But ”that one’s down the road a little bit.”

Florida coach Urban Meyer had called for a ”Blue Out” at The
Swamp, encouraging fans to make things impossible for the
Gamecocks. Instead, it was South Carolina’s defense and freshman
runner Marcus Lattimore who bottled up the Gators.

The Gamecocks gave up just one offensive touchdown and Lattimore
rushed for a career high 212 yards.

”It was a letdown, but that was a good team we played out
there,” said Meyer, whose Gators fell out of the rankings from No.
24.

Spurrier doesn’t plan to rest players against Troy and the
Tigers the next two weeks, not even Lattimore, who ran 40 times
against Florida.

He acknowledged how hard it will be to keep his young team
focused the next couple of weeks, especially with the celebrations
they’ve already seen from South Carolina fans. More than 2,000
turned out at Williams-Brice well past 2 a.m. Sunday to greet the
Gamecocks when they returned.

That capped a couple of hours of joy from Gamecocks fans who
filled bars, clubs and restaurants watching their team break
through at The Swamp for the first time in history. Spurrier’s
players carried him off the sidelines on their shoulders in front
of Gators fans who grew accustomed to Spurrier winning six SEC
crowns and the 1996 national championship as Florida’s coach from
1990-2001.

But that’s the sort of hoopla you get when people haven’t had a
title to revel in since winning the ACC crown – the Gamecocks were
part of the Atlantic Coast Conference – in 1969.

”We celebrated a little bit more maybe than most teams winning
a division,” Spurrier said. ”We probably needed to celebrate a
little bit.”

Celebrations have become more of a habit at South Carolina in
2010.

The men’s basketball team kicked things off with its stunning,
68-62 victory over then top-ranked and undefeated Kentucky back in
January. The baseball team took over in June, winning the first
men’s NCAA championship of any kind in school history at the
College World Series. Spurrier and his Gamecocks have made it a
memorable fall.

Maybe even bigger than winning the East, Spurrier says, is South
Carolina defeating typical league powers Alabama, Florida, Georgia
and Tennessee in the same season. ”That was probably just a dream
10 years ago, six years ago and so forth,” the coach said. ”But
it’s reality now.”