The Gamecocks coach is entering his 10th year and believes after three-straight 11-2 seasons, his club is prepared for that next step of a Southeastern Conference championship.
“Our guys can play some ball now,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier’s not alone in that belief. South Carolina was the preseason pick last month to win the SEC East and give the head ball coach a shot at his first league crown since his “Fun-n-Gun” days at Florida.
Still, that might be hard for some to swallow with the top-flight performers the Gamecocks have sent to the pros in recent years including Buffalo cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery and Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the NFL draft’s
No. 1 overall pick in May.
Also gone from last year is sacks leader, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and quarterback Connor Shaw, who Spurrier has said several times is the greatest quarterback in team history.
But Spurrier’s not chalking this season up to a rebuilding act. His staff has worked hard to recruit players to fill those openings these past few years and Spurrier believes those players are ready to step into the spotlight.
“I do think we’re a school with advantages now,” Spurrier said. “We graduate our players, they stay out of trouble and we win. ... And we send them to the NFL. We have track record with all that.”
Darius English, a 6-6 sophomore from McEachern High School, will take Clowney’s end spot with Gerald Dixon, another sophomore, replacing Chaz Sutton. Dixon’s brother, Gerald Dixon Jr., will play defensive tackle alongside J.T. Surratt, the only returnee.
Defensive line coach Deke Adams can’t count how often he’s been asked what the Gamecocks will do without Clowney.
“We’re going to line up and play football,” is his blunt response.