Spurrier: ‘Not a bad formula’ on South Carolina’s run-first approach on offense; Lattimore recovering “beautifully”

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media day in Hoover, Ala. on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala. — Steve Spurrier was in vintage SEC Media Days form Tuesday, appealing to the hundreds of reporters who remember his cockier days as a dominant Florida head coach.

Asked about the Gamecocks’ bye before the Arkansas game this fall, Spurrier shot back with a dig at an SEC East rival.

“You think I made the schedule?” he said. “If I made the schedule, Georgia would be playing LSU and we’d be playing Ole Miss.”

Spurrier, 67, also talked about career longevity.

“I always get asked, ‘How long are you going to coach?’ ” he said. “I ask, ‘How long are you going to write?’ ”

Historically, the more Spurrier pokes fun at folks, the better he thinks his team will perform. After South Carolina’s first SEC East title in 2010 and first 11-win season in 2011, he clearly has confidence in a run-first offense coupled with a fierce pass rush.

“Probably be more of a running team, play defense, pick your spots to throw the ball,” Spurrier said. “That’s not a bad formula. A little different than what I’ve coached in the past.”

A healthy Marcus Lattimore makes the ball-control strategy work best. Spurrier said the junior running back is recovering “beautifully” from a season-ending knee injury suffered last October at Mississippi State.

Senior wide receiver Ace Sanders, who works out with Lattimore, said there is no doubt Lattimore will start in the season opener at Vanderbilt on Aug. 30.

“Oh, yes,” Sanders said. “And at 100 percent.”

Lattimore missed spring practice. He has rushed for 2,015 yards and scored 27 touchdowns in his 20 college games. If healthy, Lattimore is a leading Heisman Trophy candidate.

“When your offense can stay on the field,” Spurrier said, “your defense doesn’t have to play so much.”

Making the rounds for SEC Media Days interviews, Spurrier touched on a variety of other subjects:

The rugged SEC: “Winning the SEC is probably harder than winning the national championship, did you know that? Nick Saban at Alabama has won two national championships and one SEC championship.”

At 55-35 in seven years with the Gamecocks, aiming for Rex Enright’s South Carolina record of 64 wins (64-69-7): “That would be neat. That’s an individual goal of mine, but that’s not something we talk about.”

Newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri: “I think they’re going to win a bunch of games. Wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t in the hunt to win a division or so.”

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff.