SEC Media Days: USC contingent needs answers to these questions

jkendall@thestateJuly 15, 2013 

SEC Media Days Football

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier

BUTCH DILL — AP

Get coverage from SEC Media Days through Friday here at GoGamecocks.com. Visit GoGamecocks for live updates during South Carolina's appearance Tuesday from 4:50 to 7:20 p.m. Eastern time (Steve Spurrier, Jadeveon Clowney, Bruce Ellington and Connor Shaw.)

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South Carolina takes its turn Tuesday on the first day of the SEC Media Days’ three-day schedule. The annual event, the unofficial kickoff of football season, takes place at the Wynfrey Hotel.

Coach Steve Spurrier will be joined by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, quarterback Connor Shaw and wide receiver Bruce Ellington. The quartet will field questions from a group of more than 1,000 media members.

Here are our predictions on the likeliest questions.

Coach Steve Spurrier

Is this the year?

Five years ago, it would have been hard to imagine South Carolina’s coach being questioned about his team’s SEC title game “drought,” but the Gamecocks have missed the title game the past two years despite being in the driver’s seat of the division midway through each season.

Who’s your quarterback?

Spurrier has made it clear locally that Shaw will get the first shot at quarterback, but a Steve Spurrier-rotating quarterbacks story is too tempting to pass up on a national level.

Did you imagine you’d be here this long?

The Head Ball Coach is entering his ninth year at USC and has hinted he’s in no hurry to leave. With three more seasons, he’ll match his tenure at Florida, which seemed unlikely eight years ago.

Senior quarterback Connor Shaw

How do you feel about rotating quarterbacks?

Shaw will tell the assembled media, as he has told us, that you have to embrace it and point to the success the team had using both he and Dylan Thompson last year. Don’t expect any deviation from that line no matter how often the question is asked — and it will be asked a lot.

How’s your foot?

Media members who follow the league understand Shaw was not at full strength the last half of 2012, so his injury-hampered season and current health will be a big topic.

Why on earth would you jump out of an airplane?

This will be Shaw’s first full-fledged media appearance since our story on his skydive and growing interest in joining the military. At an event such as this, it’s too good an angle to ignore.

Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney

Is this your last year?

He’s said it several times, but this is the place where everyone will check to make sure. Someone, not knowing the back story, will act like this is new news and run a big headline with it. It is not.

Can you win the Heisman?

We will ask this question like everyone else, but it’s an impossible question to answer. Clowney’s most frequent answer has been that he would like to make a trip to New York as a finalist. We’ll see if that answer has changed.

How many sacks can you get this year?

Someone will bring up Derrick Thomas’ 27 for Alabama in 1988, but that’s not reachable in today’s game of mobile quarterbacks and spread offenses. Clowney thinks 20 might be in reach.

Junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington

Who are you again?

Ellington is the least known of South Carolina’s travelling party, so he can expect plenty of questions about the quarterback rotation and Clowney. Once folks figure out his story, though, they’ll turn to the next question.

What’s Frank Martin really like?

It’s rare to hear someone talk SEC basketball at this event, or even from July to January honestly, but everyone loves Martin’s tough-guy persona. Ellington will be asked to compare and contrast Martin and Spurrier at least a dozen times.

Why should we believe in this group of wide receivers?

Two years ago, the question was, ‘How do you replace Alshon Jeffery?’ This year, it will be, ‘How do you replace Ace Sanders?’ with a quick follow-up ‘Can this passing game complement the ground game well enough to move the ball efficiently?’

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