Spurrier cautious after Gamecock win
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier sat with a smile, hair sweaty and mussed, discussing his latest landmark victory.
Though Spurrier was obviously pleased with the win, he said the Gamecocks' 16-10 win over No. 4 Mississippi in a Thursday night's nationally televised game was even the close to the signature victory he has longed for since arriving after the 2004 season.
"I can't say that," Spurrier said. "Who knows how good everybody is. This isn't the number one or two team from last year or this, that and the other. Ole Miss is a good team, but it's early in the year."
Spurrier's learned the past five seasons at South Carolina (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) that Gamecock success is often temporary.
He thought he was on the right path his debut year of 2005 when he led the team to wins at Tennessee and at home over his alma mater, Florida. Three straight losses to end the season blunted that rise.
Three years ago, Spurrier pointed to a 31-28 win over state rival Clemson as the contest that might spark a full-fledged turnaround in Gamecock fortunes. He looked like a prophet the following season when South Carolina opened 6-1 - including a similar Thursday night win over No. 8 Kentucky - and seemed ready to challenge for the SEC title.
"You can remember two years ago we were number six in the county and managed to lose, I think, our last five," Spurrier said. "So who knows?"
So he's not pinning up the local front page that blurted "Rebel Yelp" or buying too much into South Carolina's first victory over a Top 5 team since 1981, first ever at home and just the second all-time in 33 tries.
"We had a lot of bad things happen," Spurrier said.
Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1) lost its SEC opener for the sixth straight season.
The Rebels were held to 248 yards, it's lowest average in two seasons, and 38 points fewer than its season's average coming in. Jevan Snead figured to be the best SEC quarterback not named Tebow and coach Houston Nutt's "Wild Rebel" was there to trick up opposing defenses.
South Carolina, though, pressured Snead and the Rebels all game. Linebacker Eric Norwood had two sacks and a piece of the ball when it looked like he might've run into the punter. Defensive end Cliff Matthews had a third-down sack on Ole Miss' final drive and safety Darian Stewart knocked away Snead's fourth-and-19 pass to end things.
Instead of dreaming about No. 1 rankings and national titles, the Rebels left Williams-Brice Stadium wondering how far they'll slide in the national rankings and how to regain credibility lost with their first setback in nine games.
Nutt was pleased that his defense dug in after South Carolina took a 16-3 lead and gave the Rebels a chance to come back by forcing four straight Gamecock three-and-outs. "I'm just disappointed with us offensively," Nutt said. "I know we're better than that."
Spurrier hopes his offense is better than it showed, too.
The Gamecocks had three trips inside the Ole Miss 10 the game's first 35 minutes and came away with three Spencer Lanning field goals. They were on the verge of going 4-for-4 when fullback Patrick DiMarco scored on a 2-yard TD catch that proved the winning points.
Spurrier hopes to get South Carolina's offense dialed up like his championship Gator groups. Until then, he hold off predicting South Carolina success, no matter how big the victory.
"We have a long way to go, especially on our offensive bunch," Spurrier said. "But we're happy to win."