Joined The Augusta Chronicle in 1996 after spending nine years at The Aiken Standard. Served as copy editor, South Carolina bureau chief and Metro Editor before being named Sports Editor in April 2000.
Posted July 26, 2012 04:32 pm - Updated July 27, 2012 12:21 pm

Steve Spurrier, unplugged

South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier is always a treat to listen to.

When I pulled up in the parking lot at Cobblestone Park Golf Club for the annual media day outing, I didn't have to wait long to hear his familiar voice.

"What did you guys do?" Spurrier asked defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

Ward's team didn't win, nor did Spurrier's, but the assistant coach did achieve a milestone when he made his first hole-in-one Thursday. That pleased Spurrier, who pointed out after lunch that Ward's ace was the first in the history of the media day golf outing.

Spurrier and his staff have been racking up plenty of firsts in Columbia. Here's what he had to say on a variety of topics:

Season overview:

"We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do. We do have a lot of good players. Now we’re going to find out if we can become a good team. Joe Connolly, our strength and conditioning coach, said they’ve all been there. Attendance has been very good. Commitment of the team seems to be excellent right now."

Season opener:

"We’re just in talking season right now. That’s all we’re doing is talking about what we hope to do. I think our players are smart enough now to realize we can get beat by anyone that we play if we’re not really prepared to play each and every week. Our next game is Vanderbilt. Those guys are sort of laying for us from what I hear. They’ve been watching a whole bunch of tape of us most of the summer. They’re putting a lot of marbles into that first game. But we’ll be ready also, and it should be a heck of a game."

On opening against a conference opponent:

"We try to get ready for all of them the same way. You got to play them some time. Early, late. All we can do is get ready to play when they tell us, whoever they tell us to play, we’ve got no control over anything else. So we’ll look forward to that first one."

Expectations for 2012:

"We always feel about the same that we’ve got a team that can compete. That’s all we know right now. We should be able to compete with everybody we play. Expectations are up there, just like they were the last cople of years. Although we did not set a goal of winning 11 games last year, 8, 9, 10 was our goals for last year. That team maybe exceeded a little bit. We did set a goal to finish in the top 10 in the nation, which we did for first time ever. That team accomplished a lot last year. But there’s still a lot of first out there, like winning the SEC. Which we hope to do someday soon."

On protecting Marcus Lattimore during preseason camp:

"We don’t really tackle too much to the ground, try not to fall into legs during practice, unless we’re scrimmaging. Marcus didn’t scrimmage that much during season anyhow. We’ve got to bump heads a little bit. From what I understand he should be ready to do everything he did last year."

On quarterback Connor Shaw:

"Connor is sort of kind of the quarterback all coaches would like to have in that he’s dedicated to being the best he can. No off the field issues, anything like that. Connor’s dad is a high school coach, and was brought up on how to play the game the right way. I saw him the other day and I said, 'Connor you’ve got to cut back on lifting.' He looks like a little linebacker, big as his arms are now. He said, 'Yeah I need to cut back a little bit.' He tells me they throw four or five days a week. As we know, you can have muscles and play quarterback. But you don’t want to overdo it as quarterback."

On wide open positions:

"We like to have all of them open. Somebody might beat you out. If you’re a good player, you want somebody pushing you."

On identity of the team:

"Hopefully the identity, as you call it, will be very similar to the way we ended it last year. Winning last four games. When’s the last time South Carolina won its last four games? (Told 1958.) What was the record that year?

"Identity last year is that we finished strong, and we finished fourth quarter against Nebraska strong. That’s the kind of identity I like.

"On offense, running the ball is what we did a little bit better last year. We’re a pretty good running team, especially with Connor back there."