Columbia — South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier hasn’t seen much of Missouri’s offense, but the Ol’ Ball Coach has absolutely seen tape of the Tigers’ defense.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“Their defense is a good one – they fly around,” Spurrier said during his weekly conference call on Sunday. “They really stopped Georgia pretty well until they hit some big plays there in the second half. So we'll have our hands full trying to block these guys."
Spurrier later called Missouri’s pass rush – which has racked up nine sacks and eight quarterback hurries through the Tigers’ first three games – “fierce,” and reflected on his two prior matchups versus Missouri.
The first came as a player in 1965, when his Florida Gators lost to the Tigers 20-18 in the Sugar Bowl. The second came as a coach in 2005, when Spurrier’s Gamecocks blew a double-digit lead and lost 38-31 in the Independence Bowl.
“They played a lot better than us the entire second half,” Spurrier said of the latter matchup. “But those games are history, and this game – Saturday at 3:30 (2:30 Central) – will obviously stand on its own merit. The team that plays the best with the fewest mistakes will, in all likelihood, be the winner.”
Spurrier certainly wouldn’t mind seeing his eighth-ranked Gamecocks make fewer mistakes than they did in a 49-6 win over UAB on Saturday.
“We had some stupid plays last night that are very disappointing,” said Spurrier, whose team improved to 3-0. “Marcus (Lattimore) had about a 60-yard run, and we just shoved a guy right in the back of his numbers. And (we) roughed the punter after he had already punted the ball. And we had an interception, and one of our guys decided he wanted to block the quarterback when he was sort of out of bounds, I think.
“So we did some really stupid things that did not come back to haunt us. But hopefully he can correct those things.”
A few more news and notes from Spurrier’s conference call:
*Spurrier raised a few eyebrows last March when he told reporters that the winner of this year’s Missouri-South Carolina game would also receive a “Battle of Columbia” trophy – since both schools are located in a city named Columbia, obviously – but he backed off those comments on Sunday.
“I think the presidents talked about that earlier, and just decided hey, we’ve got enough big games,” Spurrier said. “Maybe we just need to play each other within the division and go from there.
“Obviously it is the championship of two cities named Columbia…but they decided we didn’t need to put a trophy on it or anything like that.”
*Junior running back Marcus Lattimore is regarded as one of the best at his position in college football, and has rushed 48 times for 235 yards and four touchdowns in South Carolina’s first three games. But when asked about his team’s running game, Spurrier did not mince words.
“Not very good,” Spurrier said. “We don’t really move the line of scrimmage. When the ball is snapped, some of our guys go backwards. So that was disappointing, but maybe that’s just who we are. Maybe that’s the best we can do. I don’t know.”
*One player Missouri needs to locate on Saturday is sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. At 6-foot-6, 256 pounds, Clowney is a game-changer, the 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year who finished with eight sacks last season and already has three this year (including two against UAB).
“Jadeveon Clowney was very disruptive, had a super game,” Spurrier said of Clowney’s effort against UAB.
The last talented edge rusher Missouri faced was Jarvis Jones, who terrorized the Tigers in a 41-20 Georgia victory on Sept. 8 to the tune of nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and five quarterback hurries.
*Spurrier said starting quarterback Connor Shaw has been dealing with a bruised bone/possible hairline fracture in his shoulder. While painful, Spurrier said, he does not need surgery and it will not get any worse.
“Whether or not he can practice, we’ll have to wait and see,” Spurrier said. “He should be, certainly, able to suit up and play this weekend.”
Shaw had to leave South Carolina's game against UAB on Saturday because of the injury.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.