Spurrier to lead Gamecocks' offense
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Make no mistake: Steve Spurrier's in charge of South Carolina's attack.
"I'll be responsible for the playcalling, how's that?" Spurrier said Sunday.
For many Gamecocks fans, that's just what they wanted to hear.
A season ago, Spurrier's decision to let son Steve Jr. take on more of the game preparation and playcalling set off concern the 64-year-old ball coach might be ready to hang up his visor for good. But after another late-season collapse by the Gamecocks in 2008, an overhaul of the coaching staff and a recruiting class that might go down as the school's best ever, Spurrier sounds more energized than ever and ready to put his touch back on South Carolina's offense.
Spurrier will take suggestions. However, he made clear where the final call will come.
"Who'll fire them in there first, we haven't set in stone who's going to do that yet," he said. "But I'll be ultimately responsible like I'm ultimately responsible for everything."
Spurrier added a strong group of offensive assistants in the offseason.
Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus learned Spurrier's offense as a Florida quarterback and most recently was offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Offensive line coach Eric Wolford, also the Gamecocks run game coordinator, helped Illinois the past two years lead the Big Ten in rushing (2007) and passing (2008). This offseason, Spurrier Jr. had the title passing game coordinator added to his role as receivers coach.
Running backs coach Jay Graham and tight ends coach Jeep Hunter will also have input.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia thinks the more headsets involved in playcalling, the better. "They'll all be involved and I think that's going to be good," he said. "More eyes on the field, they'll be able to see the defense and what they're doing. That's going to be good."
It has to be better than what it's been at times during Spurrier's four previous seasons.
Three of those years, the Gamecocks finished with multigame losing streaks -- three straight losses in 2005, five straight in 2007 and three straight in 2008.
It didn't seem to matter who was calling plays, South Carolina couldn't execute. Last November, the Gamecocks carried a 7-3 mark to Florida Field and were clobbered by the Gators 56-6. A game later, Chris Smelley threw four interceptions in a 31-14 loss to rival Clemson. Spurrier gave Garcia the nod as starter for the Outback Bowl and he responded with three interceptions in Iowa's dominating 31-10 victory.
"Calling plays was not our problem" last year, Spurrier said. "I can assure, whoever fires them in there, we're all going to agree that this is our game plan, this is what we think we can do."
Spurrier said most important will be players learning how to run the plays and give the offensive staff options come game week. The group put together the package that gives South Carolina the best shot at victory.
"We all pitch in. Ultimately, if I don't like some of their ideas and I like mine the best, I'm the head coach," Spurrier said. "I get the final ruling."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press