COLUMBIA -- If you noticed Steve Spurrier looked a bit disconnected from the play-calling Saturday at Vanderbilt, you weren't mistaken.
Spurrier revealed Tuesday that he took a step -- maybe a half-step, some distance -- away from the offensive wheel, instead making calling plays a "community" deal.
Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus was the primary play-caller, Spurrier said, because of his proximity to junior Stephen Garcia during the week of preparation. Still, Spurrier said he called "a lot" of the plays.
Additionally, receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott provided input and contributed to conversations about the direction of the offense.
"We've got sort of a system there where we're all on the headset," Spurrier said.
At times Saturday, particularly in the first half, Spurrier wasn't even wearing a headset. He appeared to be lying back, letting someone -- Mangus, as he indicated Tuesday -- take over.
"I really think the coach who spends most of the time with the quarterback probably should be the play-caller," Spurrier said. "G.A. was sort of the main guy there, him more than the rest of us.
"That was a little different than what we've been doing. I like that because he talks with Stephen in between plays and in between series, and so forth."
Prior to his arrival at South Carolina, Mangus was the offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State. Earlier in his coaching career, the former Florida quarterback was a head coach at Division III Delaware Valley, where he was a successful play-caller.
Spurrier said the slight changes came after the offense went stale in the second half at Kentucky, even though most of the issues surfaced after Marcus Lattimore's ankle injury forced his exit. Lattimore is expected back this week against Tennessee, Spurrier said Tuesday.
It's an odd thing to say after a game in which your team had 472 total yards, but 281 of Stephen Garcia's 382 passing yards came in the first half.
A pretty wretched Kentucky defense held the Gamecocks off the scoreboard in the second half, while the Wildcats raced back for a 31-28 victory.
"I guess the second half against Kentucky was a little discouraging with everything that happened," Spurrier said.
Additionally, Spurrier said he pulled away because he was somewhat occupied last week, trying to help the Gamecocks' ailing passing defense.
This week, with the passing 'D' better off, he said he intends to spend more time trying to right South Carolina's struggling punt return unit, which didn't improve last week despite a new returner, freshman Ace Sanders. Sanders had three returns for minus-4 yards, although much of the fault was with the blocking.
"That's pretty sad," Spurrier said.
At Vanderbilt, the offense was a little sluggish in the first half before it came to life in the second half, thanks in large part to Brian Maddox's running.
The senior, playing in place of Lattimore, had 123 of his 146 yards in the second half. A late 72-yard touchdown catch by Alshon Jeffery also perked up the final tally of total yards to 484.
When was Spurrier actually calling plays? Was this a one-game experiment? Where does this concept of shared responsibility go from here?
The clarification from Spurrier didn't exactly spell everything out.
"I was doing most of it prior to the Vandy game. I decided a little changeup might be better for us," Spurrier said. "But I still had the sheet, inserted (a play) anytime. That's how we're going to go right now."
A year ago, Spurrier rode a see-saw of sorts when it came to play-calling, letting Spurrier Jr. handle it in intervals and then taking over at others.
The low point of that trial was the second half at Arkansas, after which even players -- now-dismissed tight end Weslye Saunders, namely -- wondered aloud about the offense.
It was then that Spurrier reassumed control of things, and the Gamecocks rebounded with two of their best performances of the season, against Florida and Clemson.
The difference in the 2009 offense -- and the ones before it, really -- is that the 2010 version has been relatively efficient and effective.
The Gamecocks have the SEC's fifth-leading rusher (Lattimore), the second-leading passer (Garcia) and the top receiver (Jeffery).
They're also No. 1 in the league in third-down conversions -- fifth in the country at 54 percent. They're currently sixth in the SEC in total offense, an improvement at 404 yards a game.
"The offense has played pretty well compared to years prior," Spurrier said. "It's played a lot better than this time last year because we have the ability to run, somewhat.
"We've got a good team that, if we can play a little bit better, we have a chance to do some good stuff this year."
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