Steve Spurrier clearly is tired of seeing empty seats at the end of games in Williams-Brice Stadium, particularly in the student section.
For the second time in as many weeks, Spurrier made an unscheduled stop with the media after Thursday’s practice to encourage his team’s fans to show up for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Wofford.
“Wofford is going to come in here and do everything they can to kick our tails,” Spurrier said. “We’ve had pretty good practices, and hopefully we’ll be ready to play. Hopefully, our fans will really show this senior class how much they appreciate them.”
Spurrier saved his most passionate plea, though, for fans listening to his weekly radio show “Carolina Calls” on Thursday evening.
“If we are ever going to be a big football program and school here at South Carolina, we need to act like the other ones,” Spurrier said on his radio show. “Can you imagine the students at Florida leaving at halftime? I’m going to ask all the students, the alumni, the fans that love South Carolina to stay there and sing the alma mater with us after the game, if you love your school, you love South Carolina, stay there and sing the alma mater with us. If you don’t, then go drinking at halftime.”
Spurrier then asked fans to boo any of their counterparts who leave the stadium at halftime. The Gamecocks have sold out three of this year’s six home games. Their first SEC non-sellout came last week against Arkansas, when 78,772 were in attendance and many left before the game the 38-20 win was complete.
Most of Spurrier’s ire Thursday was focused on the students.
“They always leave at halftime,” he said. “Somebody asked me, ‘Why do your students leave?’ I said, ‘That’s a good point. Why do they leave?’ All the years we have been hoping to have a winner here at South Carolina and then all of a sudden we have a team that is winning every home game. Why do they leave, usually at halftime?”
Saturday is South Carolina’s Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day at Williams-Brice Stadium
Spurrier closed his call-in show with a final plea.
“I hate to harp on this,” he said, but “I am asking the students, I am not telling them what to do, they can do whatever they want to do, but after the game whoever is next to you put your arms around their shoulder and sing your alma mater. I think you’ll have a good feeling about your university and your state.”
Senior D.J. Swearinger will play his usual safety spot this week after starting at cornerback last week, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said after Thursday’s practice. Cornerback Akeem Auguste could also play safety this week, Ward said. DeVonte Holloman will play spur and be backed up by Sharrod Golightly, who is returning from a hamstring injury.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is expected to start despite not practicing all week due to a foot injury, Ward said. Clowney has not practiced in three weeks, Ward said.
One more time
Running back Kenny Miles will participate in his second straight senior day Saturday and is expected to make his second straight start as well.
Miles, who replaced Marcus Lattimore in the starting lineup, had 37 yards on 14 carries last week against Arkansas.
“I feel like I didn’t have that great of a game,” he said. “I feel like I left a lot of yards on the field. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot this week to try to get better on, make sure I pick my feet up and stuff like that. I felt like I had an average game.”
Miles was honored during last year’s senior day because he and coach Steve Spurrier were uncertain if he would return to South Carolina or attempt to finish his career at another school. Saturday will be Miles’ last game in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“I really don’t care about all that stuff,” he said. “It’s a cool that I'm a senior and everything, but we’ve got a game to win. It's no fun if you don't win so that's where my main focus is.”
Sense of urgency
Wofford’s offensive style puts extra pressure on South Carolina’s offense this week, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said. The Terriers normally control time of possession with their wishbone attack, meaning the Gamecocks’ offense will have to make the most of limited opportunities.
“You have to understand that so you have to go out there and perform every time you have the opportunity,” Elliott said. “You have to go out there and get points on the board every time.”
After some midseason juggling, South Carolina expects to start the same five offensive linemen from the third game in a row.
“We have kind of settled into a groove where we feel like we are capable of going out there and putting forth a good effort we can win with,” Elliott said. “I am probably not a guy who is ever comfortable, but to say we’re going to have the same starting five we had the week before and the week before is a good feeling.”