7:00 PM ET, September 14, 2013
Williams-Brice Stadium, COLUMBIA, SC
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn't like worrying about his team's defense. The 13th-ranked Gamecocks gave him no choice after what he saw at Georgia.
Spurrier said his team had a "bad coaching day" in a 41-30 loss to the Bulldogs last weekend and now is hoping to turn that around when South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) hosts Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) on Saturday.
The coach didn't like his team's defense on third down or how the players were aligned. He also said some players on special teams didn't give the kind of effort the Gamecocks are used to the past two seasons.
"There's nothing embarrassing about losing as long as you play smart and play with a lot of effort. We didn't do those two things," Spurrier said Tuesday.
The problems were particularly glaring on defense. Two South Carolina defensive assistants got into a shouting match on the sidelines, linebacker coach Kirk Botkin getting into the face of defensive ends coach Deke Adams.
Spurrier talked with them and they understand that scene can't happen again.
"We hashed it out. They know we're not going to have any more of that," Spurrier said.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said Georgia's game plan played away from him, something he also saw with South Carolina's opening week opponent, North Carolina.
Clowney got his first sack at Georgia, but spent most of the game trying to chase down quarterback Aaron Murray, who threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns. It's been a frustrating start for Clowney, although his season stat line of six tackles and a sack is the same as his sophomore season when he finished with 13 sacks and a school record 24 tackles for loss.
"It's hard out there trying to chase from the backside, and they just took me right out of the game," Clowney said after the contest. "They want to move me around, that's up to them."
Spurrier's got an idea about that, too.
"We need to line up on the other side (from Clowney) and put about five guys over there and anticipate they're going to run over there," the coach said. "That's what we should do but we didn't get lined up well the other day."
The Gamecocks have had strong defensive showings in recent games against Vanderbilt.
The Commodores managed only 77 yards -- four on the ground -- in a 21-3 defeat at South Carolina two years ago. The Gamecocks notched five sacks in last season's nail-biter in Nashville to leave with a 17-13 victory.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin doesn't see many problems with Clowney or the Gamecocks defense, no matter what Spurrier says.
Franklin said he'll use tight ends and running backs to help slow down Clowney. He even joked that he appealed to SEC to go with Canadian Football League rules and allow the Commodores a 12th player, "an extra offensive tackle to just kind of stand over his head the whole game."
Gamecocks linebacker Sharrod Golightly said the team's problems at Georgia are correctable with hard work and repetition.
"That's what we're going to do this week," he said.
Golightly said he didn't see assistants Botkin and Adams arguing, but was confident it has not affected the team's unity or focus going forward.
Tailback Mike Davis, who rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs, said players on all sides of the ball were hurting and want to come out strongly against Vanderbilt.
"We're all looking at it as a statement game. Everyone's angry and we're looking to take it out on somebody," Davis said. "No one's chill, no one's laid back, no one's laughing about it."
Spurrier found deficiencies in other areas as well last week.
He said the Gamecocks were not aligned properly when Georgia pulled off an onside kick in the first half that led to a field goal. Quarterback Connor Shaw still struggles at times in getting the ball off for a downfield pass, choosing to run when there are open receivers, Spurrier said.
"We didn't look very good. We're going to try to get our guys lined up in the right place and let them go play," Spurrier said. "See if we can play a lot better."
Vanderbilt bounced back from a season-opening 39-35 home loss to Mississippi by beating FCS program Austin Peay 38-3 in Nashville last Saturday.
The senior has caught a TD pass in his last seven games, and Vanderbilt has scored at least 35 points in its past five contests.
The Commodores won their final four road games last season after dropping 14 of 16 away from home.
"The biggest thing is that the margin for error is a lot smaller," Matthews said. "On the road in the SEC you are in hostile environments, places you aren't used to playing so that makes it tough."
Matthews had eight catches for 147 yards and a TD last season against the Gamecocks.
"I know once we step onto that field that we have a group of guys that have been together for so long that we always feel like we can pull out a win," Matthews said. "I have more confidence with this team than I've ever had with teams past and I think that will help us in this game and games going forward."
Top 25 Overview
The Gamecocks are coming off a loss to Georgia, one in which they looked solid offensively but left with questions on the defense, particularly surrounding defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Can they get it together on D? Vanderbilt cruised to a 38-3 win over Austin Peay after a gut-wrenching season-opening loss to Ole Miss and the Commodores have looked strong on offense so far this year. This matchup is key because the loser falls to 0-2 in SEC play and to the bottom of the SEC East standings.
|Avg Points Allowed||25.7||25.3|