Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spurrier Knows Change Is Needed; after a Bad 2007 Finish, He Calls for a Fresh Start at South Carolina

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spurrier Knows Change Is Needed; after a Bad 2007 Finish, He Calls for a Fresh Start at South Carolina

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE McCALL

HOOVER, Ala. - At last year's Southeastern Conference Football Media Days, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said his team finally had enough talent to compete for the league title.

Midway through the season, it looked like the Ol' Ball Coach was right.

The Gamecocks started 6-1, including a 16-12 win at Georgia, but fell apart down the stretch to finish 6-6 and miss out on a bowl game. The last five games included a home loss to Vanderbilt and narrow losses to Tennessee (overtime) and arch-rival Clemson. The defeats didn't give Spurrier the momentum he hoped for entering the 2008 season.

"The losses to Tennessee and Clemson were heartbreakers," Spurrier said Friday. "They were games that were within our grasp. It didn't work out, and it's history now. You have to put it aside. You can't mope and cry about it for too long. Like I said, 8-4 is a huge difference from 6-6."

Hoping to erase the bad ending, Spurrier is calling this season a fresh start, even more so because he has new coordinators on defense and special teams and must break in starters at running back and quarterback.

Senior Mike Davis will replace Cory Boyd, the only South Carolina player taken in this year's NFL Draft, at running back. Junior Tommy Beecher will take over for Blake Mitchell at quarterback.

Sophomore Chris Smelley also was expected to compete for the quarterback job, but Spurrier said he didn't want Beecher looking over his shoulder.

"Tommy has performed a little bit better in the scrimmages in the spring, so it was time to make him the starter, tell him he's the starter and tell him he's going the distance," Spurrier said. "And he doesn't have to worry about one interception. …

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