Steve Spurrier has been to the Sugar Bowl. Six times, in fact.
As a quarterback at Florida, Spurrier lost the 1966 Sugar Bowl. He’s 2-3 coaching in the Sugar Bowl, his last appearance coming in 2000 at Florida.
So, while South Carolina may have a chance to reach its first Sugar Bowl this season, it isn’t exactly breaking new ground to the Head Ball Coach.
Spurrier was asked Tuesday about the possibility of reaching a BCS bowl game for the first time, and how much it would mean to the Gamecocks.
“Oh, it matters a little bit, I guess,” Spurrier said. “People brag about that and so forth, if you go to a BCS bowl game. It pays more. So I know athletic director (Ray) Tanner and president (Harris) Pastides would love to see us in a BCS bowl. But, for players, they get the same gift whether it’s that bowl or a non-BCS bowl, as they call it.
“It’s sort of like being in the top 10 or not in the top 10, something like that. BCS bowl or not BCS bowl.”
Technically, the Gamecocks could go to any BCS bowl, but the Sugar is most likely because it’s affiliated with the conference. USC still has work to do before booking a trip to New Orleans, site of the Sugar Bowl.
First, the Gamecocks must win their final two regular-season games, including a Nov. 30 home matchup against Clemson. If it gets the SEC Championship Game and wins, it would be an automatic selection to the Sugar Bowl.
As an at-large, USC may also need some help. If Texas A&M finishes with two losses, the allure of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel could overshadow USC’s credentials. Same thing for Auburn, which presents a huge fan base and intriguing storyline after rebounding from a dreadful 3-9 season last fall.
Last week, Sharrod Golightly was asked about the possibility of reaching the Sugar Bowl. He said his focus was on reaching the SEC Championship Game, which has been the premier goal for USC’s program throughout the season.
As for non-BCS bowl games, Spurrier said he has no preference.
“We’ll go wherever we’re sent,” Spurrier said.
Thompson playing Saturday
Connor Shaw will be USC’s starting quarterback Saturday, but he won’t be the only Gamecock behind center.
In what amounts to a motivational ploy, Spurrier said backup Dylan Thompson also will play in the first half against Coastal Carolina. Spurrier is hoping to get the most out of his senior quarterback, and he believes this is the best way to do it.
“I told Connor yesterday, ‘We’re going to play Dylan. You play better when you know Dylan’s going to play,’” Spurrier said. “And he does. So Dylan’s going to play somewhere — first, second quarter – and we’ll see what happens.”
When asked why Shaw plays better with the threat of losing snaps to his backup, Spurrier said he didn’t know. But, he believes, the trend is clear.
“He knows Dylan is going in first or second quarter, he plays better, seems like. His footwork was off last week. His steps were off. He was off balance throwing. I don’t know why. He can throw a lot better than he threw last week. Maybe having Dylan play a series or two will help him out.”
Late in the season, the hits sophomore tailback Mike Davis has received this fall are beginning to take their toll.
Spurrier said Davis is “nursing an ankle injury,” to go with his bruised shoulder and ribs.
“He didn’t practice (Monday), not going to practice (Tuesday),” Spurrier said. “So he’s banged up. He’s banged up a bit. I don’t know that he’ll suit up. He probably will by Saturday, but right now Shon Carson is all set to be our starter in the ballgame.”
It will be Carson’s first career start with the Gamecocks. The sophomore is coming off his first career 100-yard rushing game against Florida.
Fellow sophomore Brandon Wilds, who has not played since USC’s game at Central Florida on Sept. 28, will not practice this week but should be able to play this weekend.