Gamecocks, Spurrier seeking school's first SEC football title

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COLUMBIA — It’s easy to tell that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier believes this is his best chance in nine seasons to win the Southeastern Conference title: He’s upped the wisecracks and toned down the hype for the Gamecocks and All-American Jadeveon Clowney.

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South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney (center) might be selected first in next year's NFL Draft, but coach Steve Spurrier has spent the off-season trying to deflect much of the attention from his star and back to the team.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney (center) might be selected first in next year's NFL Draft, but coach Steve Spurrier has spent the off-season trying to deflect much of the attention from his star and back to the team.

Spurrier has rarely missed a chance to take a jab at in-state rival Clemson this off-season. He also abruptly closed fall camp to the public after three days because of what he decided were too many cellphone snoops and autograph hounds fixated on the SEC’s reigning defensive player of the year.

The clincher was when video went viral of Clowney flipping a two-man tackling sled with Gerald Dixon at the opening workout Aug. 2. Spurrier quipped it’s time to focus on all the Gamecocks and not just Clowney.

Clowney is “tired of it, and I think I am tired of it,” Spurrier said. “We’re just trying to get more into team stuff.”

And from Spurrier’s view, this might be the group that breaks through for South Carolina’s first-ever SEC crown and gives Spurrier his seventh league title overall.

Clowney gives the Gamecocks a great start.

South Carolina is 22-4 since the 6-foot-6, 274-pound junior signed two years ago.

He posted 13 sacks a year ago and closed the season with the hit that’s been talked about ever since – a helmet-dislodging stop
of Michigan’s Vincent Smith in South Carolina’s Outback Bowl victory last New Year’s Day.

Clowney’s only increased the frenzy with his work ethic and developing talent (he was clocked running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash this summer).

“If I get in shape, then I’m not worried about my game,” said Clowney. “Because my game was pretty good last year.”

Still, it’s going to take more than Clowney to succeed in the rugged SEC.

“Football is the ultimate team sport. It takes a lot of guys,” Spurrier said. “Jadeveon is going to do his part, but the rest of us, we have to do our part, too.”

ON THE HOT SEAT

Under coach Steve Spurrier, the starting quarterback is always on the hot seat. That remains true with Connor Shaw, who has Dylan Thompson not far behind him. If Shaw plays poorly against North Carolina, he could be sitting the bench against Georgia.

HEISMAN WATCH

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (Jr.) had 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss last season. If he eclipses these numbers this year, Clowney could become the second Gamecock to win a Heisman (George Rogers, 1980).

MUST SEE GAME

Georgia, Sept. 7. If the Gamecocks defeat the Bulldogs for the fourth consecutive year, they’ll have a great shot at playing in the SEC Championship Game. South Carolina avoids Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M on the crossover games this season.

LOCAL PLAYERS

LS Coleman Harley (South Aiken), So.; RB Kendric Salley (Williston-Elko), R-Fr.

SCHEDULE

Aug. 29 N. Carolina 6 p.m. (ESPN)

Sept. 7 at Georgia 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Sept. 14 Vanderbilt 7 p.m. (TBA)

Sept. 28 at Central Florida TBA

Oct. 5 Kentucky TBA

Oct. 12 at Arkansas TBA

Oct. 19 at Tennessee TBA

Oct. 26 at Missouri TBA

Nov. 2 Mississippi State TBA

Nov. 16 Florida TBA

Nov. 23 Coastal Carolina TBA

Nov. 30 Clemson TBA

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justthefacts
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justthefacts 08/27/13 - 10:35 am
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Without a doubt

This is the best team the Cocks have ever had. This will represent their best chance to finally win the SEC. Obviously the UGA game is critical. As everyone knows, UGA first has to play Clemson. Not good for UGA, good for SC. UGA has to two problems this week. First, not looking past Clemson to the SC game, and of course, Clemson.

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