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September 8, 2013
ATHENS - With improving Vanderbilt coming to Williams-Brice Stadium next Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff on one of the ESPN channels, Steve Spurrier insisted South Carolina must spend as little time as possible concerning themselves with Saturday's 41-30 shootout loss to Georgia at Sanford Stadium.
"We'll go back and regroup and try not to do too much talking now that we have been totally beaten," Spurrier said after the game. "We'll try to develop into a pretty good team as we progress through the season."
Spurrier foresees one possible blessing in Saturday's setback - the Gamecock players won't be getting any accolades or pats on the back over the course of the coming week from fellow students and professors.
"All the pressure is off. When the guys go to class, nobody is telling them how great they are," Spurrier said. "Hopefully, we'll start finding out what type of team we've got."
Of course, no unit must circle the wagons more than the USC defense, sullied after surrendering 536 yards to the Georgia offense.
Spurrier wondered aloud if relying on so many young players is hurting the Gamecocks on defense. Back to the drawing board for defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward
"It was a tough day for all of us, for me and the defensive coaches," Spurrier said. "But I look out there and see all those redshirt freshmen or second-year guys and I'm starting to wonder if we were expecting a little bit much out of all those guys.
"But it is a freshman-laden defense out there. They're going to take their lumps, I guess. But we have to be creative and not sit there and never disguise. We're going to change our defense a little bit. We're not going to just stand there like we did today. I'll give Coach Ward some suggestions. We'll see what we can do."
Considering the USC defense hasn't forced a turnover in two games (only turnover by the opponents was a muffed punt in the win over UNC), trying to strip the ball from ball carriers could be a point of emphasis this week in practice.
"We have to get a turnover before the year is over, somehow," Spurrier said. "We've got to. We've got to knock the ball loose, tip the ball, get an interception. We've got to get a turnover."
After falling to Ole Miss on a long touchdown run in the final minutes of the season opener, Vanderbilt rebounded with a 38-3 victory over Austin Peay Saturday night in Nashville.
"We'll regroup and get ready for a good Vandy team and try to have some fun playing this game," Spurrier said.
USC's poor defensive showing (first time an opponent had 500+ offensive yards since 2010 at Auburn) had Spurrier longing for yesteryear. Well, 2012 anyway.
"We're not as big and strong as maybe we were last year," Spurrier said. "We miss a guy like D.J. Swearinger. I look around and think somebody's got to make a tackle, where's Swearinger? He would get up there and make a bunch of tackles."
HUGE DAY FOR NICK JONES: Even though it came in a loss, Saturday's game marked the best performance of junior wide receiver Nick Jones' career. The Byrnes High product caught a career-high six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. His longest reception was 30 yards.
"We probably should have thrown some more (passes) at him, but we didn't have the ball very long and we couldn't get them off the field," Spurrier said after watching Georgia control the ball for 35:02 (19:42 in the second half) compared to 24:58 for the Gamecocks.
"Nicky Jones in a ballplayer."
USC ran 61 plays - 36 rushes and 25 passes compared to 76 for the Bulldogs. Turning the tables on USC from the past three seasons, Georgia ran the ball 53 times for 227 yards.
-- Spurrier said Mike Davis' performance reminded him of Marcus Lattimore. Davis (149 yards on 16 carries) gained more yards than Georgia's Todd Gurley (132 yards on 30 carries) with just over half the carries: "I know Gurley got all the accolades before the game, but Davis (had more yards) and one-half the carries. Maybe the media should talk about Mike Davis a little bit. He is a heckuva back. He's a good one"
-- Spurrier said Connor Shaw's 16 carries were "probably a few too many."
-- Spurrier on Shaq Roland finishing with three receptions: "It was good to see Shaq Roland get in there at the end. He sort of lined up wrong and didn't get to play, so we had him out for a while. It's hard to play everybody." Damiere Byrd, though, was blanked by the UGA defense.
-- Why did Victor Hampton sit out the first half? Spurrier said only that he was suspended for a "team rule violation."
-- Spurrier praised the offensive line, specifically young center Clayton Stadnik, who filled the spot when Cody Waldrop was unable to go. "The protection was very good, I thought, for the entire day," he said. "Young Stadnik played well in there. He had that one high snap, but it didn't hurt us. He's a tough kid. Give him a little credit for hanging in there and playing the whole ballgame and playing well."
-- Spurrier said he didn't see the sideline altercation between USC linebackers coach Kirk Botkin and defensive line coach Deke Adams. "Well, at least they care," Spurrier said. ""When you're getting your butt kicked royally, one of them says your guy needs to make a play and the other one says your guys needs to make a play."
-- With his sack on Saturday, Clowney moved into fourth place all-time on the Gamecock list with 22.0 in his career. He is 1.5 sacks behind John Abraham (23.5) for third place. His sack also moved him into second place all-time in tackles for loss. He had two tackles for loss and has 37.5, trailing only school record holder Eric Norwood (54.5). "He was hustling," Spurrier said. "He got kicked in the leg once or twice, but I don't think he was hurt bad. When you can't make them throw the ball regularly, there is not much you can do. He was playing the run and hustling, running down guys."
-- Captains for USC were junior spur Sharrod Golightly, senior offensive guard Ronald Patrick, senior quarterback Connor Shaw and senior defensive end Chaz Sutton.
SEC SCHEDULE (Saturday 9/7):
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