September 19, 2014

USC defense not getting too cocky after win over Georgia (AUDIO)

USC still has a lot of work to do on defense.

USC still has a lot of work to do on defense.

The South Carolina Gamecocks worked out at the Bluff Road practice fields on Tuesday afternoon. The No. 14/16 Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1 SEC) are preparing for Saturday’s SEC Eastern Division battle with the Vanderbilt Commodores (1-2, 0-1 SEC).

Two starters, offensive guard Cody Waldrop (knee) and defensive tackle J.T. Surratt (back) were held out of practice on Tuesday with injuries.

“We’re getting better,” said linebackers coach Kirk Botkin after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re not there yet. We need a little more consistency, but we’re getting better. Every game brings new challenges. You have to come out here and work, pay your dues, work on tackling and work on taking good angles. As long as you’re doing that I think good things will happen.”

Botkin indicated that his starting group of linebackers is not set in stone. “We’re still maybe tinkering. It depends on how you play and how you practice. We play a lot of guys,” noted Botkin.

Like the linebackers, the defensive backs have shown some improvement from week one to week three. “Each week we’ve been taking small steps in the right direction,” said defensive backs coach Grady Brown. “The only problem is in this league you need to take big steps in a positive direction. That’s what we’re focusing on. Each week we’ve played a little bit better, but a little bit is not going to get it. We need to make a jump.”

Coach Brown is not focused on which quarterback Vanderbilt may play on Saturday. “With where we are as a secondary, I’m not sure that we can be overly concerned with who’s playing at quarterback. We need to be concerned about taking care of our assignments, not having assignments bust, being able to line up properly, executing the proper technique.”

Like Botkin, Brown’s secondary is not set in stone. “We’re just trying to get the best players on the field at that particular time, depending upon down and distance, depending upon what the offense is trying to do. We’re just trying to put the best players on the field that can help us win and get us off the field on third down and get to third down for that matter,” said Brown.

Game time Saturday from Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and the contest will be televised nationally on the SEC Network with Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer in the booth and Maria Taylor on the sidelines.

AUDIO: Deke Adams [1:45]

AUDIO: Kirk Botkin [1:42]

AUDIO: Skai Moore [2:36]

AUDIO: Grady Brown [4:18]


Talking Tuesday: Spurrier does best to generate excitement for Vandy (AUDIO)

Steve Spurrier says they got breaks against Georgia liked this  missed 4th quarter field goal

Steve Spurrier says they got breaks against Georgia liked this missed 4th quarter field goal

No doubt the USC football team is still dealing with the hangover from the big win over Georgia.  The job for Steve Spurrier and his assistants this week is to get their players to buy in to their argument that Vanderbilt can defeat them Saturday night in Nashville if they don’t play at a high level.

The Commodores are coming off their first win of the season over Massachusetts, and Spurrier remembers that two seasons ago his team had to go to the wStill have to get defensive players in better position and they have to coach better. Still searching to get better results.ire to pull out a victory over the Commodores.  So, Tuesday he did his best to talk up Vandy while also driving home the point that his team, despite the Georgia win, still has issues and needs a lot of work.

Some of Spurrier’s key comments:

  • Vandy plays tough. Players are smart. Different environment for team in Nashville after three home games.
  • “If we think we’re a pretty good team because we beat Georgia with some pretty good breaks, we’re fooling ourselves.”
  • Receivers caught about everything. It was Rory Anderson’s week to catch a lot of passes.
  • Mike Davis was running around at practice last night and is going to be fine.
  • Had to calm Thompson down the other night, in fact he felt they were celebrating too much after Wilds’ TD in 4th quarter.
  • Vanderbilt lost a lot of seniors from last year and is playing a lot of young guys on defense.
  • Not sure what they would do at quarterback if Thompson got hurt, rotate around with Cooper, Mitch and Orth.

AUDIO: Steve Spurrier previews Vanderbilt [15:48]

A win would give Spurrier 202 as an SEC coach and would move him past Vince Dooley into 2nd place on that list.

USC leads the series 19-4 including 10-2 in Nashville.  Spurrier is 19-2 against the Commodores.

USC won 17-13 in Nashville two years ago despite two turnovers on their first three plays from scrimmage.

USC is 12-5 in their last 17 true road games.



Talking Tuesday: Dabo Swinney’s powwow on Florida State

Dabo Swinney's team is a 20 point underdog at Florida State this weekend.

Dabo Swinney’s team is a 20 point underdog at Florida State this weekend.

Dabo Swinney had plenty to say in his portion of our Talking Tuesday segment. Clemson didn’t play last week so Swinney had to make up for lost time and spent close to 45 minutes talking about everything ranging from the challenge of facing top ranked Florida State, the quarterback controversy between Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson (which Swinney swears is no controversy), to a clarification on his comments last year that Florida State and Clemson were equal programs and would split five out of ten games if they played.  Yes, there is a lot of talking, but, as is usually the case, most of it was very entertaining. In case you don’t have time to listen to it all, we’ve got a breakdown for you below with the highlights. For those of you that are looking for something to listen to on the treadmill or the commute home, check out our audio link below.


The highlights:


  • Swinney: “Obvioulsy a huge challenge for us as we head down to Tallahassee to take on the number one team in the land.”
  • Swinney said it is a big game against Florida State because it isn’t just an ACC game, but a division game.
  • Swinney said the FSU offensive line vs the Clemson defensive line is a match up he is excited to watch.
  • Swinney said Jamies Winston doesn’t really have any weaknesses.
  • Dabo Swinney describes Florida State as “big” up front. “Really, really big,” he said.
  • Swinney: “Not a lot of weaknesses when you look at Florida State.”
  • Swinney: There’s been a long line of people that have tried to knock them up. We’re up next…”
  • Swinney said yes, it is a big game but it is still just the first ACC game of the season. Lot of football to play.
  • Swinney: “Quite frankly, our best players have to play well.”
  • “We’ve beat everybody, but Florida State and South Carolina. …that puts a little damper on the mood quick.”
  • Swinney said you have to tip your hate to Jameis Winston for the way he performed in Death Valley last year.
  • Swinney said you can’t pay attention to the point spread in Vegas.
  • Swinney points out that they were underdogs many times, like at Virginia Tech and in the ACC title game and they won.
  • Swinney: “This team doesn’t see themselves as underdogs.”
  • Swinney on QBs: It’s not a controversy. It’s a great situation is what it is.”
  • Swinney said Stoudt earned the starting job. He said Watson has great potential but he hasn’t won the job yet.
  • Swinney: “You can’t just make a guy a starter on potential. You have to earn things.”
  • Swinney said there are no plans to slow things down against Florida State. “We are at our best when we play fast.”

The press conference:

AUDIO: Dabo Swinney previews FSU [40:00]


Cole Stoudt ready to lead Clemson into battle against #1 FSU (VIDEO)

Stoudt is confident he can do the job against FSU.

Stoudt is confident he can do the job against FSU.

Despite the fact that every armchair coach in the Palmetto State is ready to bench him, Cole Stoudt is feeling just fine, thank you. Stoudt hasn’t played poorly by any stretch, but the flashes of brilliance we’ve seen from true freshman Deshaun Watson have people clamoring for Dabo Swinney to make the switch. Swinney is adamant that isn’t going to happen, at least not yet. So this week Stoudt will get the start when the Tigers travel to top ranked Florida State for an ACC showdown.  Stoudt told reporters Monday that he’s excited about the opportunity to go to Tallahassee and try to dethrone the Seminoles.


Clemson a big underdog at FSU; USC a big favorite at Vandy

Clemson will try to avenge last year's tough game against Florida State.

Clemson will try to avenge last year’s tough game against Florida State.

Any time you go on the road and face the number one team in the country you are going to be an underdog. Clemson is in that category this weekend and the Tigers travel to Tallahassee to face defending national champion and top ranked Florida State. Las Vegas has Clemson as a 19 1/2 point road underdog against the Seminoles.  Dabo Swinney has gone on the record that the Tigers and Seminoles are on equal footing and would split a hypothetical 10 game series, so he probably doesn’t agree with the Vegas take on the game.

Clemson and Florida State are set for an 8:18 kickoff on ABC Saturday. ESPN will broadcast its College GameDay show from Tallahassee.

Meanwhile, USC is a 21 1/2 point favorite in Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt. That matchup will be the Gamecocks first road game of the season. Vandy picked up its first win of the season over the weekend with a rally over UMass. The Gamecocks and Commodores kick of at 7:30 in Nashville.