South Carolina-Clemson week is here, which means Steve Spurrier had a lot to say Tuesday during his press conference. Here are the highlights …
** Quarterback Connor Shaw and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney continue to deal with foot injuries.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said he expects Clowney to play at Clemson. As for Shaw? Well, Spurrier isn’t sure yet. Shaw sprained his left foot Oct. 27 against Tennessee and hasn’t been 100 percent since. Clowney has dealt with a right foot injury since the Sept. 29 trip to Georgia. He played through it for the next five games and sat out last week against Wofford.
“Connor Shaw did not practice (Monday) night and is not scheduled to practice (Tuesday),” Spurrier said. “His foot bothered him during the game (against Wofford). If he had told us, we probably would have put Dylan (Thompson) in. He kept saying he was alright and he’d finish out. But if he can’t play, Dylan Thompson will be ready to go.”
Even if Shaw does play, Spurrier knows it’s not ideal that he is missing practice time.
“It’s a pretty good concern if he’s not able to practice,” Spurrier said. “Again, we’ll have to wait and see where he is Wednesday or Thursday. If not, Dylan is ready to go play.”
Spurrier dodged a question about whether Shaw would have to practice at least some to play.
“We’ll just have to see,” he said. “If (Shaw) is able to play, certainly he’ll be ready to play. Whether or not we start him or not will probably depend on his health. He’s played pretty well. Even though he struggled last week, he still hit 80 percent. He was 16 out of 20 and we were sort of a little upset at him. It wasn’t a terrible game by any means. There were one or two plays here or there we thought he could fire it in there. Other than that, he played very well.”
Spurrier said Clowney is scheduled to practice on a limited basis Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready to play this weekend,” Spurrier said.
** If USC wins this game, Spurrier will have 65 victories at USC, surpassing Rex Enright’s school record. Spurrier downplayed that storyline for the game.
“I hadn’t thought about that too much lately, really,” he said. “Us against them is big enough to talk about, probably. Those are one of those records where when your coaching days are over you look back and say, ‘What was his record?’ At the moment, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. The bigness of this game is who wins between us and them.”
** Spurrier was asked a lot about his exchange of verbal barbs with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney over the past year, including Spurrier recently dropping a “B.S.” at a pep rally for injured tailback Marcus Lattimore when referring to things Swinney has said.
“Oh, I don’t think there’s any big deal to it,” Spurrier said. “I just mentioned when we had that pep rally for Marcus, sort of an appreciation on his birthday, that I agreed that Dabo had mentioned that Marcus Lattimore stands for everything is right in college football. I just mentioned I agreed with him. I didn’t think that was a derogatory comment. I guess Dabo, I found out he loves Southern California and the University of North Carolina. That’s the only thing I know about him. He really likes those two schools. Other than that, it’s no big deal.”
That was in reference to Swinney saying that USC was Southern Cal and Carolina was North Carolina. Of course, when Spurrier mentioned Tuesday that he didn’t say anything derogatory, he glossed over his most incendiary comments at the rally. He was asked about them later and changed the subject to what Swinney had said, then tried to explain himself.
“About the USC-North Carolina stuff, I think he’d probably admit it was a little …” Spurrier said before trailing off. “I usually don’t like to respond to what other coaches say, to tell you the truth. They’re free to say whatever they want to and it doesn’t bother me. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. That was a moment to kind of lighten the situation over there on campus at the Horseshoe. It was not a memorial service for Marcus, it was, ‘We appreciate what you’ve done, Happy Birthday, get well soon, and we love you.’ That was what it was about. My comments were just sort of to lighten up the situation a little bit.”
Spurrier was known for going back and forth with coaches during his days at Florida, too.
“I never said much during the season that I know of,” he said. “I had those little old corny jokes during the summertime. Bobby Bowden did the same thing. Gosh, back in those days, I think I did between 20 and 22 booster clubs and he did the same thing, all over the state. They have their little jokes about us and we have our little jokes about them. No big deal, everybody laughed a little bit, no big deal. Then all of a sudden you start beating some people and you tell a little joke, and they think you’re trying to jab them and dig at them and all that, but that’s just offseason humor, keeping things light. That’s the way I look at it.”
** As for Lattimore, Spurrier said, “He’s doing fine. He’s coming around. Not much swelling in his knee. He’s on the road to recovery. He’s doing pretty well.”
** USC is a four-point underdog in this game. Conventional wisdom says Las Vegas usually gives the home team a three-point edge just for being at home. Either way, Spurrier said he isn’t surprised that 9-2 USC is an underdog at 10-1 Clemson.
“No, not the way they’ve played and we’ve played,” Spurrier said. “It’s usually based on how teams have performed and played. That’s not surprising at all. Like I said, these are guys that are one game away (a loss to Florida State) from being in the hunt for everything.”