Spurrier still makes Tenn. sing the blues

Analysis

October 31, 2005|By DON MARKUS | DON MARKUS,SUN REPORTER

There is something about playing at Tennessee that brings out the best in the teams Steve Spurrier has coached.

It dates to when Spurrier was at Duke in 1988 and the Blue Devils went to Knoxville and upset the heavily favored Volunteers. Then came Spurrier's 12-year run at Florida, when the Gators won three times in their six trips to Neyland Stadium.

The latest success came Saturday night, when Spurrier took a South Carolina team that had yet to win on the road this season and left with a 16-15 victory over then-No. 23 Tennessee after fifth-year senior Josh Brown kicked a career-best, game-winning 49-yard field goal with 2:45 remaining.

"It's sort of neat to have won there at three different schools now," Spurrier said on a conference call with reporters yesterday. "I don't know if any other coaches have done that in Knoxville. Winning at Georgia, winning at Florida, winning at Tennessee, they're all about the same."

Not really.

It was Spurrier's eighth win in 10 games at the expense of Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, and his 10th in 15 games against the Volunteers. Spurrier, who succeeded Lou Holtz last spring, wasn't gloating too much about his team's third straight win.

"We were fortunate in the game. Heck, we know that," said Spurrier, whose Gamecocks are 5-3 overall and 3-3 in the Southeastern Conference. "We watched the tape and we see all the mistakes and errors. When you win the game, you're not as mad. When you lose a game like that, you're sort of mad at your guys for making a lot of errors."

Fulmer was certainly not happy about his team's third straight defeat.

"What you saw out there was unacceptable," said Fulmer, whose Volunteers dropped to 3-4 overall (2-4 in the SEC) and play at Notre Dame on Saturday. "In 13 years here, we haven't had a season like this one. It's been tough. We just haven't made any plays."

That's what South Carolina kept doing before a crowd of 107,716.

There was sophomore quarterback Blake Mitchell, who after following in the Spurrier tradition of being in and out of the doghouse this season, completed 22 of 36 passes for 242 yards.

Mitchell also threw for a pair of touchdowns, both on third down to Sidney Rice, who broke the school record with 11 touchdown catches this season. And then there was Brown, an Urbana High graduate who had earlier missed from 53 yards out but had so much confidence that he went out for the winning kick before Spurrier told him to do so.

"We had a lot of big plays, individual performances by players that were very heroic," Spurrier said. "If Josh Brown hadn't made a 49-yarder, it would have been very good entertainment, but we still wouldn't have won the game."

Spurrier was asked how special the latest win over the Volunteers was.

"We had hoped to beat at least one of the three - Georgia, Tennessee and Florida," Spurrier said. `That was one of our goals, to beat one of those teams. Realistically, I don't know if we can beat Florida or not; we don't have to worry about that one for two weeks. We've at least won one."

The Gamecocks are one win shy of becoming bowl-eligible, quite a feat for a team many expected to finish no better than fourth in the SEC's top-heavy Eastern Division. Spurrier hopes there is no letdown this week at Arkansas before the much-hyped game against the Gators Nov. 12 in Columbia, S.C.

"I've always talked to our teams about one game at a time and not getting full of ourselves," Spurrier said. "If we have a big victory and so forth. I really believe our guys will be all right. They should be because once we watch the tape, we can see how very fortunate we were; just a play or two didn't cost us the game."

Mitchell summed up the feelings of his teammates after the game in Knoxville. "We've never won here," he said. "We made history tonight."

Perhaps for South Carolina, but not for its first-year coach.

Best game

How many times can UCLA do this?

For the fourth time in five weeks, the Bruins came from way behind to win, this time erasing a 21-point deficit in the last 7:04 of regulation and beating Stanford in Palo Alto, 30-27, in overtime. The win made UCLA 8-0.

Worst game

For the second straight week, the Atlantic Coast Conference wins (or loses) in this category.

Although Georgia Tech's 10-9 win over Clemson might have been as sleep-inducing as North Carolina's 7-5 win over Virginia, neither the Yellow Jackets nor the Tigers are going to scare anybody left on their respective schedules.

Heisman hopeful

Texas needed all of quarterback Vince Young's 506 yards (267 rushing with two touchdowns, 239 passing with two touchdowns) to overcome a 19-point deficit in the first half to beat Oklahoma State, 47-28, and remain in contention for a Bowl Championship Series title-game invitation.

don.markus@baltsun.com

The Associated Press and other news organizations contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.