South Carolina was given its highest ranking ever in the Associated Press on Saturday morning and then went out and made a mockery of the No. 12 spot, according to its head coach.
“We’re probably an overrated bunch of dudes right now, an overrated bunch of coaches,” Steve Spurrier said following a Saturday morning scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium. “All of us are overrated because we don’t look very good.”
Until Saturday’s release of the AP poll, the Gamecocks had never been ranked higher than No. 14 in the preseason, and that came in 1959.
“It’s an honor,” place-kicker Jay Wooten said. “It’s awesome, but like Coach (Spurrier) said, a lot of teams start off high. Expectations, that’s what they are, expectations. Hopefully, we will live up to all of that, but we’ve still got a lot of practicing, a lot of fine-tuning to do.”
The Gamecocks are right to be wary of the importance of preseason rankings. In the five previous seasons South Carolina has been ranked in the preseason, it has finished the season ranked once. That was in 2001, when Lou Holtz’s team was ranked No. 21 in the preseason and No. 14 in the final week.
“Coach Spurrier always really tells us, focus on the next game and the next week, don’t really focus too much on anything else,” senior cornerback Marty Markett said. “The rankings are the rankings. We have to come out prepared and be ready to play every week.”
External excitement about the Gamecocks never has been higher for obvious reasons. South Carolina is coming off its first SEC East championship and returns almost every major contributor from that team, including a senior quarterback (Stephen Garcia) and the SEC’s most highly regarded running back (Marcus Lattimore) and wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery).
Spurrier’s view of his team was skewed Saturday by a scrimmage in which his offense looked ragged. The Gamecocks were held scoreless and gained just 61 yards on 33 plays against its defense.
“We’ve got two weeks to see if we learn how to play smart, play physical, play with discipline, all those types of things,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina played almost the entire scrimmage without its starting offensive line or wide receivers on the field, but that didn’t temper Spurrier’s disappointment much.
“The whole offense wasn’t very good,” Spurrier said. “The offense was very lethargic it seemed like, couldn’t anything much going and the defense was very solid.”
The ranking has some tangible benefits for the Gamecocks who have national title aspirations because teams that start near the top of the poll have a better shot at finishing the season at the top, but that value is mitigated by the fact that the Gamecocks plays in the SEC, Spurrier said.
“Our schedule gives us a chance to” finish high, he said. “Every SEC team has a chance no matter if they are ranked or not because of the schedule.”
AP Top 25
The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football preseason poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, 2010 records, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and 2010 final ranking:
|1. Oklahoma (36)||12-2||1,464||6|
|2. Alabama (17)||10-3||1,439||10|
|3. Oregon (4)||12-1||1,330||3|
|4. LSU (1)||11-2||1,286||8|
|5. Boise St. (2)||12-1||1,200||9|
|6. Florida St.||10-4||1,168||17|
|8. Texas A&M||9-4||965||19|
|9. Oklahoma St.||11-2||955||13|
|12. South Carolina||9-5||848||22|
|13. Virginia Tech||11-3||821||16|
|16. Notre Dame||8-5||530||NR|
|17. Michigan St.||11-2||519||14|
|18. Ohio St.||12-1||443||5|
|20. Mississippi St.||9-4||361||15|
|24. West Virginia||9-4||207||NR|
|25. Southern Cal||8-5||160||NR|
Others receiving votes: Texas 114, Penn St. 75, Arizona St. 67, Miami 32, Utah 25, Southern Miss. 20, Iowa 19, BYU 15, NC State 15, Air Force 14, Houston 13, Pittsburgh 9, Michigan 7, Tennessee 5, UCF 5, Hawaii 4, N. Illinois 4, Tulsa 3, Arizona 2, Maryland 2, Nevada 1, Northwestern 1, Washington 1.