COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- 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
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
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
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
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
"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
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)