Steve Spurrier on Tuesday disputed the notion that Jadeveon Clowneys famous Outback Bowl hit would be a violation under an NCAA rule change on targeting.
Spurrier, during a SportsCenter interview with ESPNs Chris Fowler, defended Clowneys hit that sent Michigan running back Vincent Smiths helmet flying as within the rules old and new.
The head of officials in the SEC, Steve Shaw, said it was perfectly legal because he hit him in the chest and it ricocheted up, Spurrier said. He landed initially in the chest and it ricocheted and popped his helmet off.
Earlier this week, ACC officials coordinator Doug Rhoads said that, under the new rule, the Gamecocks would have been penalized 15 yards for Clowneys hit. Fox Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereira agreed with Rhoads that the hit would be illegal.
Spurrier said he was OK with the change, as long as referees are consistent in their enforcement of the targeting penalty, which now carries an ejection.
I think what theyre talking about is when a guy spears his helmet into another guys helmet, Spurrier said. You shouldnt do that.
NCAA rule 9-1-3 states that no player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul. Also, rule 9-1-4 says, No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul.
Spurrier was in Bristol, Conn., along with other SEC coaches for a series of interviews on ESPNs TV and radio shows.
Clowney and The Hit won the ESPY Award last week for best play of the sporting year.
I thought the biggest part of the play was when he scooped up the fumble with one hand, Spurrier said. Thats not how we teach them to get fumbles, but hes got his own way of getting it, I guess.
Dig at Dabo
Spurrier got in a verbal jab on Clemson coach Dabo Swinney during a segment with ESPN commentator Skip Bayless on First Take.
Bayless asked Spurrier if he was comfortable with some experts mentioning the Gamecocks in national championship talks.
Were not talking about it, Skip, but if they want to throw it out there, thats OK, Spurrier said. Its good to think big. Our Clemson coach (Dabo Swinney), he throws it out there for Clemson right now. Were not talking about it.
We do have a good team. I think well be preseason top 10. Almost every team in the top 10, if the ball bounces their way, get a few breaks, almost every team has a chance maybe to win it all.
More on Boyd
Spurrier expressed some remorse over Clowneys SEC Media Days comments that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd plays scared when the Gamecocks face the Tigers.
I wish he hadnt said that, but Tajh Boyd did not play very well against us, Spurrier said. He played a lot better the entire season than our game, for whatever reason. Obviously, the pass rush is why quarterbacks struggle. Youve got to have a pass rush to stop a great quarterback like Tajh Boyd.
Clowney sacked Boyd a South Carolina-record 4.5 times last season as the Gamecocks beat the Tigers 27-17 in Death Valley.
Boyd is a combined 32-of-71 for 339 yards, three interceptions and two touchdowns in three losses to the Gamecocks.
QBs ready to go
Spurrier declared senior Connor Shaw 100 percent healthy and 100 percent the starting quarterback.
Hes going to get an opportunity to take us as far as we can go, Spurrier said. Hes our starter. Hes a tough, gutty player that can really play.
Junior Dylan Thompson will play but how much remains to be decided.
Weve got two good ones, Spurrier said. We think Connor Shaw, for what we do running the ball, is our best quarterback. Dylan deserves to play in there some also.
Spurrier twice praised sophomores Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds as ready to handle the load at running back.
Theyre going to have big years, he said. Both these young guys can play. You dont know much about Mike Davis yet, but watch him play this year.
Wilds redshirted last year, while Davis had 52 carries for 275 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. They share the teams top tailback spot on USCs preseason depth chart.