Adams: South Carolina lacking confidence

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier speaks to the media at the SEC football media days in Hoover, Ala. on Friday, July 25, 2008.

Photo by AP Photo / Butch Dill

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier speaks to the media at the SEC football media days in Hoover, Ala. on Friday, July 25, 2008.

HOOVER, Ala. — The coaches and players change at South Carolina. The challenge doesn’t.

A few years ago, coach Lou Holtz rambled on and on about trying to “change the culture” at South Carolina. But it’s obviously easier to change coaches.

Never mind that South Carolina has improved in three years under coach Steve Spurrier. It still languishes behind Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the SEC East. And it still needs to raise its self-esteem.

“At Duke University (where Spurrier won an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1988), the first thing I had to do was tell those guys they were just as good as N.C. State or Clemson, and hope like heck they believed me,” Spurrier said Friday afternoon at SEC football media days. “Fortunately, they did. And they played like it.

“You try to tell your players, ‘You’re good players, you’re capable; now, play like it.’ But we didn’t quite play like we were very good players (last year).”

South Carolina started 6-1 and finished 6-6 — another mediocre season produced by a mediocre program. But the longstanding mediocrity is more glaring when contrasted with Spurrier’s glowing resumé.

Isn’t the team supposed to assume the coach’s personality?

Yet the Gamecocks have never assumed Spurrier’s swagger. It’s not all their fault. They’re trapped in the strongest football division outside the NFL.

They have had their moments. They have beaten Georgia, Florida and UT once apiece, and come agonizingly close to winning just as many other matchups with the East’s big three. Those potential victories were frittered away in the Gamecocks’ failure to execute the most rudimentary plays.

The last-second loss to national champion Florida in 2006 comes to mind. So does last year’s loss to UT in which the Gamecocks outgained the Vols by almost 200 yards.

Such last-minute setbacks could be attributable as much to a lack of confidence as a lack of talent.

At last year’s SEC media days, Spurrier might have hoped to boost his team’s confidence when he proclaimed it ready to contend for a conference championship.

“Obviously, we were dead wrong in thinking our team was capable last year,” Spurrier said.

Reality reigned Friday.

“We only had one guy (Cory Boyd) drafted,” Spurrier said. “So it wasn’t like this team was loaded.”

Although the team has fostered no championship predictions from its coach, it’s more talented and experienced than last year. Linebackers Eric Norwood and Jasper Brinkley, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn should become NFL draft picks. So should wide receiver Kenny McKinley and tight end Jared Cook.

“We’ve got ballplayers,” Spurrier said. “We absolutely have no excuses about ballplayers. We’ve got to coach better, and they’ve got to play like good players.

They also have to believe they’re good players.

“Yeah, we lack a little bit of confidence,” Spurrier said. “But we haven’t done enough to gain a whole bunch of confidence. … I’ve always been a big believer, you’ve got to expect some big things to happen before you can achieve it.”

The confidence issue comes up again when Spurrier assesses his new quarterback, junior Tommy Beecher.

“Tommy has the highest GPA on the team,” Spurrier said. “He can probably run better than the other quarterbacks and he can make all the throws.

“We’re hoping he can develop a lot of confidence.”

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 23

banman360 writes:

i would think if adams said you were the best coach in the SEC confidence shouldnt be an issue

Orangeblood13 writes:

whats that ? I can't hear from all the Adams suckassin

rusty_shackleford writes:

How many coaches have the gamecocks buried? Too bad little stevie superior will leave his last two coaching gigs a loser. Not really!

givehim6 writes:

USC seems to be an elephant gravyard for once great coachees. maybe what usc needs is a up and coming young coach to bring some life into the program. Opps better not give them any ideas.

pms151 writes:

I would trade head coaches with SC any day.

rrvolfan#230816 writes:

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john adams byline = IGNORE THIS ARTICLE
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pdhuff#552644 writes:

They weren't ready for our fumblerooski 18 yd gain last year. Offset their 200+ yd advantage.

TommyJack writes:

I wouldn't shovel dirt on the ol' ball coach too soon.

Bigger_Al writes:

Coach Fulmer loses 6 games and misses a bowl and it is the end of the world. (And it really was, for me.)

Coach Spurrier loses 6 games and misses a bowl, and Adams names him the best coach in the loaded SEC.

murrayvol writes:

Bigger_Al: Surely 05' wasn't the end of the world for you. Hell, you're still posting so you must have recovered to some degree.

Time was that 5-6 season would've led me to stare into the abyss but I've mellowed with age. I still get po'd but I don't break things and embarass my wife. That's progress I suppose.

murrayvol writes:

TJ: I agree. Jury's still out. But if he can't do it, what then?

TommyJack writes:

Murray: Try another, I guess. The have decent facilities, good HS ball...Hard to imagine someone could not turn them around. Still not sure the hated ball coach won't do it. But the clock is running on him.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

murrayvol 11:57am -The he plays golf 5 days a week instead of 3.

invisiblekid writes:

I don't recall SC being touted for a national championship last year like the Vols were in '05 so you could say there are different perspectives on a 6 loss season.

Not sure I give a d%mn about the Gamecocks self esteem. Personally, I hope we keep them and the OBC popping xanax for a long time.

trip19 writes:

Maybe the college football world has caught up with the way Spurrier plays the game. Or maybe it's just being at SC. Guess time will tell.

murrayvol writes:

pd: I know he likes golf but he dearly loves the arena. Where else could he find a bully pulpit to lob verbal grenades at less erudite coaches.

invisible: We'd better keep em popping Xanax. Keeping a rope on UF & UGA will be infinitely more difficult.

wheatbarley writes:

He said fritter...hehehehe...

VOLinDAWGland writes:

At this point I would not take Spurrier over Fulmer as I don't think Spurrier has the desire it takes to recruit nationally at UT. The ideal would be a combination of Phil's recruiting and Steve's offensive prep and game management.

ETownVol writes:

Hey Adams! You forgot to mention that USC's lack of success is somehow Fulmer's fault. May want to edit the story so you can try to put another nail in the proverbial coffin. GO VOLS!! Keep Fulmer, Fire Adams!

gavol2572 writes:

Hehehehe I noticed it too wheatbarley!

gohawks1 writes:

wheatbarley - you have a keen eye, brother. Thanks for the laugh!

invisiblekid writes:

You may be onto something VolinDawgLand, The Spulmerrier 5000 RoboCoach.

GreerVol22 writes:

I have the cure for lack of confidence. Its called red neck Viagra.....two popcicle sticks and some duct tape...now get 'r done Stevie!

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