The Steve Spurrier who coached Florida was known as a brazen play caller unafraid to take criticism for running up the score on a hapless opponent. Criticism of his team lacking offensive punch, however? Perhaps another matter. Vintage Spurrier made an appearance with South Carolina on Saturday, proving a point against over-matched East Carolina.
The Gamecocks were roundly criticized for their 17-point effort in Week 1 at Vanderbilt, particularly a punchless passing game. Starting quarterback Connor Shaw was still nursing an injured shoulder, but that didn’t stop the Ol’ Ball Coach from airing it out. A lot.
Reserve Dylan Thompson threw 37 times and accrued 330 yards, more than 500 percent of the Gamecocks’ passing output against VU. Spurrier also let third stringer Seth Strickland have a crack at it, and the senior uncorked a 51-yard strike to Rory Anderson for six…with two minutes left. And South Carolina ahead 41-10. It was like Spurrier was back in Gainesville, at least for a day.
The ground game was used sparingly, perhaps to save Marcus Lattimore’s knee. After all, the Gamecock star did miss most all of 2011. After scoring a touchdown that tied the program record, he was more or less given the day off. South Carolina will need to develop a passing game to complement Lattimore if the Gamecocks are going to pursue the BCS championship. Spurrier certainly worked on that facet of the offense.
Three different Gamecocks passed for touchdowns, with wide receiver Ace Sanders getting in on the action earlier in the final stanza. Spurrier went for two on the ensuing PAT.
Was Spurrier sending his Week 1 critics a message? His thinly veiled, post-game shots at rival Clemson might indicate so.
Steve Spurrier: “We had 50 plays at halftime. That Clemson coach would be proud of us, wouldn’t he?”
— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) September 8, 2012
Spurrier’s ruthlessness at UF sparked plenty of debates about running up the score, and what’s acceptable for coaches facing hopelessly overwhelmed opponents. Though it’s sometimes treated as such, Div. I football isn’t the NFL, so the same code of conduct doesn’t apply. Then again, the championship system rewards wow factor. Sometimes wowing cynical pundits means going all out, even when it’s unnecessary.