On his way to the course Thursday morning for his annual media golf outing, Steve Spurrier heard the Dixie Chicks' song, "Ready to Run," on the country music station he was listening to.
The South Carolina coach would not mind if that became the Gamecocks' anthem this year.
"That's gotta be us," Spurrier said. "We've got to be ready to run the ball if we're going to be successful here."
USC has a new running scheme and several backs to implement it. But in all likelihood, the offensive line will determine whether the Gamecocks hit the high notes in their ground game or continue to sound off-key.
"We do have five of the 11 guys on the field, and there's no room for error," offensive line coach Eric Wolford said. "It's not acceptable to make mistakes."
Wolford was given a three-year contract and the title of running game coordinator to leave Illinois to revive a Gamecocks rushing attack that ranked last in the SEC the past two seasons.
The former Kansas State lineman has hit the ground running, helping the Gamecocks land commitments from six offensive linemen, including four for whom he was the principal recruiter.
"If we're going to make changes and make things happen up front, we've got to have competition," Wolford said. "We've got to have guys that can play."
That does not mean USC has given up on the group still on campus. Spurrier reiterated Thursday that the Gamecocks' linemen compare favorably in terms of strength and size to those from his Florida teams in the 1990s.
"They just didn't play well" in previous seasons, Spurrier said.
Wolford inherits a unit that features three returning starters in center Garrett Anderson, tackle Jarriel King and guard Terrence Campbell, plus two other players with significant game experience - guards Lemuel Jeanpierre and Heath Batchelor, who is back from a suspension that stemmed from personal issues.
And though he did not recruit any of them, Wolford said he views the players as his "guys." He is trying to teach them the importance of not taking any plays off.
He does not expect his linemen to be perfect, but they better be pretty close to it.
Wolford said a student who correctly answers 70 of 75 test questions had had a pretty good day. The same is not true of a lineman who gets 70 "pluses" out of 75 plays for the offense during a game.
"If you have five guys with five minuses across the board, that's 25 plays that you can basically throw out," Wolford said. "We don't have somebody playing behind us that's going to cover us up. We don't have a linebacker behind us or a safety. We're a corner in man-to-man all day."
Wolford has widened the line splits from 2 to 3 feet, which should give the Gamecocks' backs more space to run through and spread out opposing defenses. He also was instrumental in the Gamecocks adding a new one-back scheme that incorporates more runs out of the shotgun formation.
But Spurrier indicated Wolford's attitude has been as important as any of the Xs-and-Os.
"Eric Wolford has already set the tone around here, and we need to run the ball," Spurrier said.
If the Gamecocks are successful at turning up their running game, expect to hear that Dixie Chicks song a lot this fall.
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.