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Spurrier calls an audible


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Spurrier calls an audible

Coach clarifies that he is in charge of son s role in game plan

The Head Ball Coach had a few things he wanted to clear up Thursday afternoon.

He s calling the shots.

Tommy Beecher is the guy.

Age ain t nothing but a number.

Yes, Steve Spurrier delivered his summer State of the Gamecocks address and he reports the program is strong ... and so is he. More on that later; there was some myth-busting to do first.

Seemingly backing away from comments he made during the spring, Spurrier said he would be handling the play calling this fall.

I know there has been a lot of talk this summer about play calling, Spurrier said. Let me just get that straight: I will be responsible for the play calling. Steve Jr. has been coaching with me going into 11 years now and together we well get the play calling done.

Spurrier said the plan is to allow his son to put the game plan together while he executes it on game day.

I will oversee all the play calling, he reiterated. I m still the offensive coordinator. In fact, I plan to spend more time with the quarterbacks and offense this year than maybe I have in three years.

Beecher, who has played sparingly during his career, will be the benefactor of that extra attention. After trial runs with a number of quarterbacks during his tenure, Spurrier said Beecher s time has come, as well as the time to settle on one signal-caller.

He has not had a chance, going into his fourth year now, and we are going to give him every opportunity to be the quarterback, Spurrier said. Barring injury, he should go the distance and whatever it takes, the first game, second game and down the line.

Spurrier added he believed it important that Beecher not have to look over his shoulder.

This is not, he goes bad, the next guy goes in, Spurrier said. Tommy Beecher right now is getting his shot. He s first-string quarterback and we are going to do all we can to help him offensive line, receivers, tight ends, running backs and so forth.

Don t forget coaching.

I m looking forward to seeing if we can make Tommy Beecher one of the best quarterbacks in the country, said Spurrier, who compared Beecher favorably with former Florida standout Shane Matthews.

Tommy can make all the throws. He can move around, Spurrier said. Now, he just needs people around him to play well.

Spurrier is optimistic he can bring out the best in Beecher and the offense because his team s defense is in good hands with new coordinator Ellis Johnson

There is one reason: Ellis Johnson, he said. Ellis can run the defense. We are in good hands with Ellis Johnson running the defense.

Historically, I coach the heck out of the quarterback and offense and away we go, Spurrier continued. (I) hire some good people to do those other things. That is what we are going to try to do.

If Spurrier can do what he has historically been able to do, then he won t be history. That is something several national pundits have speculated he would be if the Gamecocks continue to sputter.

Did you think there was a team here ready to win the SEC? Spurrier asked in response to chatter that, at age 63, he could hang it up with another rough season. Everybody talks about how this guy s in his 60s, he s going to walk away from this thing. ... That age thing s a funny thing. I feel a good five more years is easy. I really do.

Knowing the consensus top-10 recruiting class of 2007 is now moving into a position to fight for serious playing time has also brightened his outlook. That was something he told pro scouts to keep in mind during this past spring s Pro Day, when Cory Boyd was the team s lone draft-worthy commodity.

We have had five guys drafted in the last three years ... so we re not going to win a lot of SEC (championships) with one or two guys drafted every year, Spurrier said. During Pro Timing Day this year, I told those scouts you come back two, three years from now and we ll have some ball players. I certainly believe that.

With improving depth, a good overall summer performance in the weight room and more coaching, Spurrier said the program should be able to pull out of the slide that saw it lose five consecutive games after beginning the year 6-1 and peaking at No. 6 in national polls.

We know why we lost a lot of games, he said. We are where we are, but we can get out of it. We can get out of it with a little better coaching and a little bit better play. We can get out of it.

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