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Little reason to cheer

Despite USC's victory, Spurrier disappointed in overall effort

Published on 09/28/08
BY TRAVIS HANEY
The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier promised changes this week with his offense.

Unfortunately for South Carolina, the change was only evident on the depth chart and not on the field.

Despite continuing offensive woes, the Gamecocks still had no real trouble with an undermanned UAB team that simply could not move the ball in a 26-13 USC victory in front of 78,286 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"Twenty-six was all we could manage. Two touchdowns is all we could score against Alabama-Birmingham," Spurrier said. "It's a game we won with a lot of errors and mistakes."

Bad news: The Gamecocks (3-2)

travel this week to Ole Miss (3-2), which just knocked off No. 4 Florida.

"We will not be cocky going into that game," Spurrier said. "We will not

be overconfident. That's one good, positive thing. We played so poorly that the media isn't going to write anything nice about us."

For the second straight week against a weaker opponent, the boo birds rained down on the struggling USC offense.

Judging from his tone afterward, it sounded as if Spurrier might've booed, too.

"I said I wasn't going to get mad, so I'm going to try not to get too mad," he said.

Spurrier then pleaded with reporters not to ask him questions that would cause him to criticize specific players. He left that in the media's hands.

"You can be as critical as you want to," he said. "We had a lot of guys that did not play their best. I told our guys, 'I don't know how some of you guys can look in the mirror sometimes with that performance. I don't know how you do it.'

"The effort level and the way they play is sad. It really is sad. But I've watched it quite a bit around here."

Later on his call-in show, he called the effort "half-assed."

The fourth-quarter appearance of Tommy Beecher wasn't exactly a positive sign for the team's quarterbacks. Chris Smelley and Stephen Garcia were expected to play the game's entirety.

But Beecher played most of the fourth quarter, failing to really do anything of note.

Smelley was generally erratic and ineffective, going 3-for-9 for 44 yards and an interception.

Garcia spelled the sophomore on the second series, moving the team with his legs just as much, if not more, than his arm.

He rushed 18 times for 86 yards — both game highs — and a touchdown. Some of the runs were designed, others were just improvisation.

Garcia finished 13-for-20 for 131 yards, with an early 13-yard touchdown pass to running back Brian Maddox.

He threw one interception, but it was a third-and-long downfield heave. It didn't really hurt USC, whose defense held UAB to 207 total yards. The Blazers didn't have a first down until 6:30 to go in the first half.

Garcia didn't return after the late third-quarter pick, but it was related to an earlier play when he caused a false start on third-and-1 and not necessarily the turnover.

"I did all right," said Garcia, who took the bulk of the snaps when the game was up in the air. "I had a few mishaps, but it's something I can learn from. I'll be all right."

Spurrier didn't name a starter for next week's game, but he was far more complimentary of Garcia than any other player. The mobility seemed to particularly delight him.

"We've obviously got to let Garcia play," Spurrier said. "And obviously we've got to live with his mistakes."

The Wofford and UAB games offered similar scores — it was 23-13 last week — and similar stories for the offense.

Again Saturday, the Gamecocks found ways to move the ball. But they couldn't get the ball into the end zone.

Senior Ryan Succop has hit all seven of his field-goal tries the past two weeks, including a career-high four of them against UAB.

But it's the idea that of USC's nine trips into the red zone the past two weeks, the team settled for field goals four times (22 and 19 yards against

Wofford, 26 and 24 yards against UAB).

"It's not near where we're

capable of," Garcia said of the offense. "But, you know, it's a long season. We'll be all right."

The line had its moments, both positive and negative. Spurrier seemed most irritated with the tight ends' inability to block.

USC planned to use the past two weeks to get itself righted on offense. Didn't happen.

"I'll take suggestions on how to get them to play with effort," Spurrier said as he exited the interview room.

Reach Travis Haney at thaney@postandcourier.com and check out the new South Carolina blog at www.charleston.net/blogs/gamecocks.

S. CAROLINA QUICK TAKE

The Good

Stephen Garcia was far from

perfect, but he showed he could

do some things with his feet. How

helpful.

The Bad

Eric Baker coughs up the ball on

his first carry. The freshman's mistake

turned into a UAB field goal.

The Wacky

C.C. Whitlock moved from receiver to corner Monday. He was playing Saturday night.

Source: Click here

GO GAMECOCKS!