South Carolina’s first opponent of the season, Texas A&M, has won 20 games in the last two years, but Steve Spurrier isn’t as impressed by that as some others.
“They haven’t played the bigger teams so their schedule has been a little misleading,” the Gamecocks coach said Wednesday during a speech in front of the Columbia Touchdown Club.
Last year, the Aggies have played Rice, Sam Houston State, SMU and UTEP in their non-conference schedule. Spurrier referred to those team as “barely Division I.”
“I find it interesting that they quit playing Texas,” Spurrier said. “They played Texas 115 years like we have played Clemson and then they left that Big 12 conference and both schools got mad at each other and said, ‘We aren’t going to play you anymore.’ It would be like us and Clemson saying we are not playing anymore. Our whole state would go crazy. The governor would get involved in that.”
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The Gamecocks held a 70-play “mini-scrimmage” during Wednesday’s practice, Spurrier said. The highlights were two, one-handed interceptions by linebacker Skai Moore against Dylan Thompson.
“He’s a very good player, and he knows how to watch the quarterback and break on the ball and a lot of things like that,” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks have managed to avoid any major injuries through the first two weeks of practice.
“I talk about that every day, ‘Let’s make sure nobody gets hurt,’ ” Spurrier said. “The worst thing in the world to me is a team beats itself up, gets a whole bunch of guys hurt in practice. If you get hurt in the game, that’s part of the game but not part of practice. We protect each other.
“To me it’s really stupid of coaches if they don’t try to protect their players every practice. When we first got here, some of these people who really know football said we don’t practice tough enough. Now that we’re winning though, it’s pretty smart.”
The number of quarterbacks in Cleveland does not bode well for former Gamecock Connor Shaw, Spurrier believes. Shaw, who left last year as South Carolina’s winningest all-time quarterback, is competing with Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and Rex Grossman for playing time and spots on the roster. NFL teams usually keep three quarterbacks on their roster.
“I don’t think Connor Shaw is going to get a chance to play up in Cleveland, and that happens,” Spurrier said. “I hope he gets a chance. He’s a really good player as we know, but if he doesn’t get a chance there maybe he’ll get a chance somewhere else.”
Spurrier: “It’s been sort of neat watching all these players commit to us when they could go to Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, even Ohio State up in there.”
Crews were installing the bracket for a new sign at Williams-Brice Stadium on Wednesday. A large “Block C” logo with the name of the stadium underneath it will be placed on the tallest concrete tower of the West stands, which overlooks Gamecock Park.
The sign, which will be lit like the “South Carolina” sign on the back of the scoreboard, replaces the stark black letters spelling the stadium’s name that were in place on the West concrete tower.
The Gamecocks will practice at 10 a.m. on Thursday. It is closed to the public.
Staff writer David Cloninger contributed to this report.