COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Spurrier pleased with o-line's effort


Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Not every South Carolina player was lazy this offseason.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier again bemoaned the level of commitment he's seen out of some of his players. He says, though, that South Carolina's offensive linemen have been a welcome bastion of work, effort and dedication during summer drills.
"I know I had to yell at our guys a little bit on offseason workouts," Spurrier said Monday. "But one group I want to brag on a little bit is our offensive line. ... They've worked harder in the offseason."
Such workouts, Spurrier reminded, are voluntary and players won't be punished if they weren't there. But Spurrier also said he's always thought that scholarship football players have a responsibility to be the best they can for themselves and their teammates.
And that's why Spurrier is so thrilled with his offensive line. He said the team's strength and conditioning staff told coaches offensive linemen made nearly 100 percent of their workouts. "They've probably been the best on the team," Spurrier said. "We need to treat them to a special dinner, Coach (John) Hunt, when we all get together."
Commitment hasn't been everything Spurrier's wanted since taking control in November 2004. He groused, sometimes disgustedly, about older players not giving their all. Spurrier was miffed after South Carolina blew a three-touchdown lead to Missouri and lost the Independence Bowl that some Gamecocks weren't bothered enough about the defeat.
This summer, Spurrier talked of five to seven players who didn't think it important enough to join teammates in drills and conditioning workouts, saying the Gamecocks had a "bunch of lazy guys."
In Spurrier's school, players want to work out because they want to succeed. He rarely remembers a commitment problem during his Florida coaching days. He says he once heard Georgia's strength coach say the Bulldogs want to be there because they want to win. "We don't have that. We don't have 100 percent of that," Spurrier said. "We're behind almost all" other programs in that regard.
So, Spurrier was mildly stunned recently when he saw offensive linemen Gurminder Thind working out on his own time. That's "very unusual around here," Spurrier chuckled.
"It's good to see guys doing something extra," he said.
South Carolina is currently serving a three-year NCAA probation. One of the violations found by the governing body that occurred under the regime of former coach Lou Holtz was players thinking the voluntary workouts were mandatory.
"When a guy's on scholarship most all of them everywhere feel it's their responsibility" to workout, Spurrier said. "We have a few, they tell their mom and dad, 'Hey, it's voluntary. I don't have to go.' That's their reasoning, that's what I've heard they tell their parents."
A year ago, the offensive line was filled with seniors like Na'Shan Goddard, Jabari Levey and Freddie Saint-Preux. Spurrier says they played pretty well, but the Gamecocks only draftees were early entry defensive backs Johnathan Joseph and Ko Simpson - and indication South Carolina's line has some improving to do.
Hunt likes the group he's had this offseason. He says with so many starters gone from last year's team, the remaining players most likely figured the workouts would be a good way to distinguish themselves from the pack.
Spurrier's philosophy has always been, Hunt said, giving others a chance if a player is not doing what he should. "I'm coaching a group of guys that are all bunched up together," Hunt said. "I think they realize if they don't do what they are asked to do, what the team is asked to do, 'I'm not going to play."'
Hunt said center Chris White, tackle Jamon Meredith and guards Thomas Coleman and James Thompson have taken major strides forward and should see plenty of playing time this fall.
Chicken nuggets: Spurrier said receiver Noah Whiteside and defensive back Ty Erving would be suspended three games for violating university policy. "Simple as that," he said. "Let's move on to something else." ... Spurrier expected to give scholarships to up to four walkons this year. One of those will go to Coleman, an offensive lineman, Spurrier said. ... Spurrier had special teams coach Fred Chatham tell the gathering that sophomore kicker Ryan Succop was likely the team's leading punter this year. Later on, Spurrier again asked first-year assistant Chatham about the punting situation. "Ryan's going to have to be our punter, coach," Chatham said.

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