Spurrier not pleased with Gamecocks start
Steve Spurrier found out he's got plenty of work ahead at South Carolina.
The Gamecocks coach was upbeat and enthusiastic this summer about the Gamecocks' chances to repeat as Southeastern Conference division winners and possibly take that next step to a league title.
Spurrier said that disappeared in a miserable half of football when the 12th-ranked Gamecocks fumbled four times and trailed East Carolina 24-14. It took a slew of second-half mistakes by the Pirates and a rally from benched quarterback Stephen Garcia for South Carolina to win 56-37.
''Overall, we've got a long way to go,'' Spurrier said Sunday. ''We're not a very good team right now.''
Spurrier will have his hands full this week prepping the Gamecocks for their SEC opener at Georgia, where they've won just twice in their past eight visits.
Garcia was South Carolina's savior in the East Carolina game, perking up the offense after it fell behind 17-0 and struggled to make plays under untested sophomore passer Connor Shaw.
Garcia, whose streak of 28 straight quarterback starts ended at Bank of America Stadium, ran for two touchdowns and threw for another. Marcus Lattimore rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns while star receiver Alshon Jeffery caught five passes for 92 yards.
But Spurrier said the numbers don't make up for the glaring mistakes he saw when reviewing the film Sunday. The Gamecocks experienced offensive line struggled to keep defenders out of the backfield or open big holes for Lattimore. Plus, neither Garcia nor Shaw lit things up when they were in there, Spurrier said, combining to go 10 of 25 for 131 yards.
They didn't look anything like the team Spurrier watched with pride this summer, the one that hit nearly every throw to receivers eager to catch the ball. Spurrier put offensive line coach Shawn Elliott and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus on high alert to improve this week, saying the East Carolina showing was '' ''pretty embarrassing for me, our (offensive) line coach maybe and our quarterbacks coach.''
Now, it's a trip to Athens, Ga., and a game between the hedges that more times than not goes a long way in determining the season for both. The Gamecocks began their run to an Eastern Division title by defeating Georgia 17-6 a year ago. Lattimore stamped himself an SEC star with 182 yards and two touchdowns.
The Gamecocks haven't won two straight over Georgia since 2000-2001 when South Carolina was in the midst of its best two-year run ever when Lou Holtz led the team to a pair of Outback Bowl victories and a 17-7 mark.
Spurrier felt good about the chances of surpassing that milestone coming into the season. He's less certain after the first game.
Jeffery, the team's Sports Illustrated cover man, isn't alarmed or concerned after the East Carolina win. ''It was the first game, so we've got to get a little rust off,'' he said. ''That's all it was.''
Spurrier said Georgia appeared as strong as ever despite a 35-21 loss to No. 5 Boise State on Saturday night.
''They just didn't play their best,'' Spurrier said. ''But it wouldn't surprise me if they did'' against the Gamecocks.
Spurrier had praise for Boise State's offense and star quarterback Kellen Moore. Spurrier gushed about fundamentally perfect the Broncos looked and how Moore throws it around with such ease.
''He flicks it here, he flicks it there,'' Spurrier said. ''I love watching those guys play the game.''
Spurrier would like to one day feel the same way about his guys. First, though, comes much more work than he thought.
''We've got a lot to work on,'' Spurrier said. ''I think we've got a chance to be a pretty good team, but last night, I think we were fortunate.''