Lanning Expects Improvement on Special Teams

By Wes Mitchell

South Carolina kicker Spencer Lanning did his job last season.

After missing the first kick of his college career, Lanning finished the season by hitting 17 of his next 19 attempts. He also made all of his extra points but one — a blocked attempt that cost the Gamecocks’ dearly in a 4-point loss at Georgia.

Unfortunately for South Carolina, Lanning was arguably the lone bright spot for a Special Teams unit that struggled for much of the 2009 campaign. On top of the blocked extra point against Georgia, the unit also gave up a kickoff return for touchdown against the Bulldogs.

Despite that, Lanning says there are high hopes for all of the special teams units this year, not just the kicking game.

“Everybody on this coaching staff, every player, is 100 percent committed to being the greatest on Special Teams,” Lanning says. “We’re not trying to be the best the university’s ever seen, the best the SEC has ever seen, we’re trying to be the best in the country. And if that’s what we shoot for and we come a little short — which we’re not planning on doing — then we’re still among [the best].”

Special teams coordinator Shane Beamer met with the NFL’s Falcons, Panthers and Cowboys in the offseason, according to Lanning.

“He’s brought a lot of things back from the NFL,” Lanning says. “And we’re trying to get better every day. We put a good foot forward every day. Constantly getting better, so really excited to see what the special teams can do this year.”

The Gamecocks practiced in the morning for the first time Monday after the first six practices were held in the evening. USC completed its annual Media Day Sunday, and will participate in its first scrimmage of the preseason Tuesday morning.

Offensive lineman Jarriel King was back in a garnet practice jersey after missing the first week of practice with a pulled hamstring.