September 5, 2011

Issues for Gamecocks?

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It takes a lot to impress Steve Spurrier.

After all, the long-time Georgia nemesis has seen and accomplished just about everything there is to do as a successful player and coach.

But after watching the replay of Boise State's 35-21 win over Georgia, the South Carolina coach was effusive with his praise of the Broncos, who he said are every bit deserving of their lofty status as one of college football's top teams.

"I watched the Boise State and I tell you what, you've got to admire watching those guys play. Their quarterback (Kellen Moore) is very good. He throws the football like he's got a baseball in his hand. He's got a real quick release, and it's like whoosh … zips it here, zips it there. He knows where everybody is, he's hard to sack; he's just a really good player," Spurrier said during his Sunday teleconference. "But I also love watching them play because they block, they tackle well, they play great fundamentals, they're just always in position and they don't do stupid things. They just play the game the way you're supposed to. Heck, I might vote them No. 1 after watching them beat Georgia. Georgia is still a very good team, they just didn't play their best."

For the record, Spurrier doesn't believe his team did either and said they will need to come Saturday afternoon's game at Sanford Stadium (4:30, ESPN).

Yes, the final 56-37 tally against East Carolina might indicate otherwise, but Spurrier said the score could not be more deceiving.

"It was a game where we did not play extremely well. East Carolina gave us all we could handle and they had a chance to win if the don't fumble it so many times (four)," Spurrier said. "We got a defensive score when Antonio Allen picked up a fumble and scored and Ace Sanders had the big punt return (a 68-yard touchdown). But overall, we're just not very good right now. I thought we'd play better than what we did."

Spurrier said his team has to get better in the passing game.

Despite a multitude of points against ECU, Gamecock quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Stephen Garcia combined to complete just 10 of 24 passes for 131 yards, numbers that don't sit too well with the Gamecock coach.

Of those 10 receptions, only seven were caught by wide receivers with standout Alshon Jeffries coming down with five catches, followed by Nicky Jones and Sanders with one each.

"We're looking to get the balls going at them. We're looking to have good protection and quarterbacks throw it. I think you can tell we had some guys open, the ball just didn't get there. Protection broke down several times, the quarterbacks threw it somewhere else or whatever happened," Spurrier said. "It's no fun for a bunch of receivers to catch thousands of balls for a month then we play East Carolina and we've got 10 completions. That's pretty embarrassing for me, and our line coach maybe, our quarterbacks coach. Our receivers ran pretty good routes, the ball just didn't get there going at them much.
"I tell our guys all the time, 'If we can't throw now, the quarterback can't throw and you can't catch and we've got protection, we're not going to attempt it.' We didn't want to go 20 out of 45 or we would have got beat (Saturday night). But complete 10 of 25 and run it 40-something times gave us the chance to win the game."

Sophomore Marcus Lattimore gets the credit for that as he rushed 23 times for 112 yards and scored three touchdowns.

"Overall, we've got a long way to go. We're not a very good team right now," Spurrier said. "I thought we played better than what we did. (Allen) had 16 tackles and had a really super game, but the rest of the guys no so well. We've got to get ready and try and play a smarter game against Georgia."

Spurrier was asked about the growing dissatisfaction with Bulldog head coach Mark Richt by Georgia fans, and whether or not the Bulldogs might play harder.

"I've got enough problems down here. I don't think Coach Richt needs me to worry about him. I was worried about my job at halftime, how 'bout that?" Spurrier said. "The way our guys were playing - four fumbles in the first half. We looked like a rag-tag bunch of guys. We pretty much just played sloppy football and as the Notre Dame Coach said, you don't win against quality opponents playing sloppy football.
"Maybe watching Boise State will allow our guys to see how you're supposed to play this game."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.