USC Gamecocks Football

Q&A with Spencer Lanning

Transcript from South Carolina senior kicker/punter Spencer Lanning's time Monday on the SEC Championship teleconference.

Thoughts on South Carolina making the championship game and facing Auburn on Saturday.

SPENCER LANNING: I think it means a lot to our program. It speaks a lot for our coaching staff and our players to really succeed in the SEC and really just to get to where we are and we're just really excited to have the opportunity to go out there in the national spotlight and play the best we can.

Q. I know that you're a long-time college football follower and fan. The points in the SEC are up in general this year. From your perspective, I didn't know if you had a theory as to why. Is it a cyclical thing? Or is there something to that that you can see from your perspective?

SPENCER LANNING: Are you talking about scoring points?

Q. Scoring. Across the board pretty much.

SPENCER LANNING: I think it just goes back to the offensive geniuses we have in this conference, and I don't think it has anything to do necessarily with defense. But these offensive coaches just get out there and put together some great plans, and it all comes down to just execution from every team's standpoint.

Q. Spencer, what do you think this means going to the title game for Coach Spurrier?

SPENCER LANNING: I think it means a lot to him. I think it means even more to him in an aspect of this whole football program. And I think it means a lot to our players and a lot to our fans. And I think it means a lot to this entire nation of Gamecocks. And I think everybody is sort of anxious to see how we prepare and what we can do out there on Saturday at 4:00.

Q. He's a guy who obviously will show his emotions when he's happy and when he's upset with you guys. What's the happiest you've seen him all year, considering there have been a lot of milestones when you look at beating Alabama, Florida, beating Clemson back to back, what's the happiest you've seen him all year?

SPENCER LANNING: The happiest I've seen him probably in my career was when we beat Florida a couple of weeks ago and he was just ecstatic and all the players were excited. It was the memory of a lifetime just to be in that locker room after the game. He was just really excited for I think the opportunities and what we had in the future for our program.

Q. They showed some of that clip on national TV. What do you remember that he said to show his excitedness from that night?

SPENCER LANNING: Just usually in the locker rooms after the games, he has a couple of positive points and has some negative points and we need to play better in this aspect and this aspect. We can't give up stupid penalties, this or that. And after that game he said we need to get ready for Troy, get ready for Clemson and we're headed for Atlanta. And everybody just erupted. It was just an intense moment for us.

Q. When Lattimore got on campus and you looked at him and you saw him run, and he got around them a little bit, did anything jump out at you? Did you say: Hey, this guy might be it?

SPENCER LANNING: To tell you the truth, when I first spoke to him he seemed like a really nice guy. And he's very well-spoken. And you watch him in practice, you think he might be the real deal, he might not. You look at him, he's not extremely big, fast or strong. But then you watch him play against this great competition, and you just realize that he's just a grown man. And hepretty much controls his own destiny. He's probably going to be as good as he wants to be.

Q. You said he's pretty a well-spoken kid even for a freshman?

SPENCER LANNING: He's very well-spoken and very down to earth and he has his head on straight.

Q. I'm not sure how much you guys got to watch them over the season, but from the time you played Auburn to now, is there one thing that stands out about them as just the most significant improvement?

SPENCER LANNING: The biggest thing, when I think about Auburn, is the fact that, like Coach Spurrier said, they're going to move the ball and you've got to play 100 percent all game. You can't give them anything. You expose any kind of weakness for yourself, I think they're going to take advantage of it. We're going to go out there, try to minimize our weaknesses and our flaws and just really try to put together a complete game.

Q. You played such an integral role both kicking and punting, and senior year you also had big roles in both Florida and Clemson games here down the stretch. What's this been like for you as a way to cap your career?

SPENCER LANNING: Personally, it means a lot to me, I think my family. It doesn't really mean anything right now. I think I'll look back on it after the season and really have time to reflect on it. Right now I think all of my anticipation and all of my focus is going toward Auburn just to put together a game that we can play as best we can.

Q. Is this the best you've kicked in your career? And the punt the other night that went out about the one-inch line, how much of that is skill and how much of that is luck?

SPENCER LANNING: The skill part of it, I guess, was getting it down there just to give it a chance, as Coach Spurrier said, give fate a chance. And the luck part, when I kicked it, it was one of those things, I watched it go up and I watched our head hunters running across field chasing Gilchrist and it's going to be right in the end zone and Coach Spurrier is going to be furiouswith me. I saw it take a big hop. And I heard the fans down there sort of erupt. I sort of shook my head in disbelief and shrugged my shoulders. It was just one of those things that happened to work out well.

Q. The combination between field goal kicking and punting, is this the best you've kicked in your career in the last three, four weeks?

SPENCER LANNING: I've been hitting the ball well. It's just like I feel like a golf swing, you go out there some days and you hit it well and some days you go out there, don't hit well. But as far asputting it all together, I've been really trying to focus on the individual aspects during the week. And then on Saturday, game day, try to go out and put it together for a complete performance.

Q. Given the position you play, can you speak to playing this week in the dome, indoors, in a controlled environment and how that affects, if anything, what it is you do?

SPENCER LANNING: Playing in the dome, I'm really excited about it, to tell you the truth. There's no wind. There's no cold. Things that kickers and punters despise are wind and cold. The wind plays tricks with the balls. I think quarterbacks will experience that, too. Anytime the ball is in the air, it can change direction on you with how hard the wind is blowing. I'm not a big fan playing in the cold. And kicking a ball in the cold is usually a little more difficult. The ball doesn't travel as well. You take all those aspects out of it, and the things that you can control become that much more so. The opportunity presents itself for all of us to have a very good game, and I'm really excited about getting the opportunity to play in the dome.

Q. Ask you to shift gears just a little bit. From the sideline, watching the way the offense performed this week, Stephen Garcia didn't have the greatest statistical game, but in a sense in the way he managed the game seemed like perhaps one of the best performances. I know you're kind of a student of such things. What was your impression of how he ran the offense and the way he kind of controlled the pace of the game?

SPENCER LANNING: I feel like this year Stephen Garcia's in control out there. I feel like he's confident and knows exactly what he wants to do in every situation. I feel like he's done a great job of managing the game and just being in control. And I think that speaks a lot towards G.A. Mangus and Coach Spurrier and how they've sort of created Stephen Garcia to play as well as he has lately.

Q. Anything about this game, because again, like I said, statistically, if you just look at the raw numbers, it wasn't a great performance. And yet the outcome was exactly what you wanted. Seemed like, again, that control factor of being on top of every situation.

SPENCER LANNING: I think just looking at the game and seeing how he threw some balls away and realized that trying to force the ball in certain situations and just settling to punt the ballaway and play field position, I think that speaks a lot for him. And just how much he realizes that it's all about the total game, not necessarily forcing one pass at a crucial time and really exposing or giving a chance of weakness there.

Q. I know kickers have sort of a fraternity. What were your thoughts when you watched the Boise State kicker miss the two field goals, one in regulation and one overtime, in the eyes of many people cost the team a shot at a BCS Bowl game?

SPENCER LANNING: I feel terrible for him. I watched it in sort of disbelief, because as a kicker that's an opportunity, I think everybody -- as a kicker that's what you look for. And you want theopportunity to put your team over the top and put your team in a situation. Like I said, I watched in disbelief, and I don't wish that on anybody. And it was one of those things that I think -- I don't know mentally if it wasn't there or what for him, but I'm sure he feels terrible about it. And I really can't imagine what he's going through right now. But you've got to feel for a kid like that, especially a college kid and putting himself in that position with Boise State. I have no idea. It's one of those things sort of gives me the chills thinking about. But you just gotta go out there with the mentality that you're just not going to miss. And every opportunity to present yourself, you gotta think you're going to hit it as well as you can.

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