Notebook: Spurrier 'ticked' by kick coverage

Patrick, Gibson see time on offensive line

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 19, 2011 

USC head football coach looks up at the scoreboard in the fourth quarter of the Gamecocks game against Citadel at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday, November 19, 2011.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

The Citadel returned seven kickoffs for 131 yards, and that didn’t make South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier happy at all.

“Our kickoff coverage was pitiful, that’s all you can say, pitiful,” Spurrier said. “The guys out there can’t tackle The Citadel players.”

Spurrier spent several minutes on an unsolicited dissection of his kickoff coverage team, which came into the game ranked last in the SEC. The No. 14 Gamecocks may not get much better the rest of the year, Spurrier conceded, but he’s holding out hope this year’s redshirting freshmen will make a difference next season.

“Write that, there’s hope next year,” he said. “Fans we won’t look like this forever although we may look like this the rest of this year if we have to put the same guys out there. We are redshirting a lot of guys who ought to be good football players. Next year, I am hoping we will have some guys that can cover kickoffs.”

The Bulldogs average starting field position was its own 36-yard line thanks to South Carolina’s poor kickoff coverage.

“We’ll keep kicking it on the ground and letting them take it at the 35 or 40 I guess. That’s about the best we can do right now,” Spurrier said. “That’s pretty embarrassing for a bunch of guys who are supposedly pretty good athletes and care, but anyway. … You can tell I’m a little ticked at that.”

EASY DAY FOR PUNTER

Irmo’s Joey Scribner-Howard did not punt, which probably is a good thing against the Bulldogs. The Citadel entered the game tied for the FCS record in blocked punts with nine.

South Carolina went for it three times on fourth down and converted all three, including one on a 19-yard fake punt run by Melvin Ingram. The Gamecocks are now 18-of-26 on fourth downs this year. Only four teams in the country had attempted more fourth down conversions than South Carolina coming into the game.

BAD FLAGS

The Gamecocks were flagged five times compared to The Citadel’s one.

“Sometimes I am amazed at some of the stupidity our players do,” Spurrier said. “Hitting a guy right in the back. You would think they don’t even know the rules of football. We still do a lot of stupid things. That’s what’s irritating and that’s why we’re not a great team, we’re a pretty good team.”

NO MORE OPTION, PLEASE

The Bulldogs gained 241 yards on the ground using the triple option offense, just 33 fewer than Navy had in the triple option earlier this year.

“We have never stopped (that offense) completely yet,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know if we ever will. Have we every really flat stymied one of those triple option teams? Wofford always goes up and down the field. We play much better against the traditional teams.”

OFFENSIVE LINE ROTATION

Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott rotated his players more liberally than he has all season. Sophomore guard Ronald Patrick and freshman tackle Cody Gibson each played in the first half.

“I just told Shawn, ‘Let those two guys play some during the course of the game,’ ” Spurrier said. “He said, ‘All right.’ I looked out there and he said, ‘You said let them play coach.’ It didn’t make any difference. Whoever is in there, we went down the field and scored.”

At one point in the first half, South Carolina had three freshmen (Gibson, guard A.J. Cann and tackle Mike Matulis) and one sophomore (Patrick) in the lineup at the same time.

FINALLY FIRST

South Carolina scored first for the first time since last season’s 69-24 win Troy on Nov. 20. The Gamecocks had allowed 13 straight opponents to score first. They were 9-4 in that span.

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