September 10, 2012
Blazers Get Ready for South Carolina
What do you do after losing your first game and having to face a top-10 SEC powerhouse in your second contest? Correct the mistakes and get excited about the approaching contest.
First, correct the mistakes. Coach Garrick McGee thinks his Blazers have the right attitude for that. "What I learned in the off week is that they [the team] really care, they really want to win," he said. "We went back and studied the film and looked at the things that went wrong and the places that we needed to develop and get better and we had tough hard meetings with them about it. I was really impressed with the way that they took tough criticism about how to focus, how to concentrate, how to play the game at a high level."
Wide receiver Patrick Hearn, who had a great game against Troy, was one of those who appreciated the instruction. "Coach [McGee] pointed out our [negative] reactions after bad plays," Hearn said. ". . . Coach taught us to be more aware of what's going on around us. The film showed us that we have to work much harder."
Second, get excited about the next game. "I expect us to be a different football team mentally," the coach said. "Physically I expect us to be the same. We played hard, we played physical, we played like we cared about our program, and we took a lot of pride in our university."
But, this is, after all, South Carolina - an SEC team with a top-10 ranking. McGee admits it presents a problem, starting with the coach on the other side. "They are very talented they have one of the best football coaches [Steve Spurrier] sitting on the sidelines in the history of the game which, gives them credibility immediately," he said.
And there's their quarterback, Dylan Thomas, who offers the Gamecocks "an opportunity to throw the ball a lot more," McGee said.
Even worse, those passes can open lanes for running back Marcus Lattimore, one of the best runners in the nation. How do you stop him?
McGee's first response was to say "Pray," but then he got serious. "The way you stop any offense is you play fundamentally sound, you understand your techniques and your schemes, and you anticipate which plays are about to be run.," he said. "You have to win on the first down so that you push them into a second down and a long situation and that gives you the best chance. But it all starts with being focused understanding our scheme, understanding what they are going to do on offense, playing with the right leverage and tackling."
Okay, but what about the other side of the ball? Can UAB move the ball on the South Carolina defense? McGee admits it will be a chore. "Most of the defensive lines in the SEC is what separates them from any other conference in my opinion," he said. "So whenever you go in to play a team like this the defensive front are very talented."
"You have to understand certain ways to get the ball out and you have to really stay in your passing lanes," he added. "Your offensive lines have to stay leveled off so they create passing lanes for the quarterback, the receiver's routes have to be at the right spot. You have to execute the way you execute at practice. That is what gives you a chance."
Senior linebacker Marvin Burdette believes the coach has the team in the right frame of mind. "Coach McGee tells us that anything can happen on any given Saturday with college football." Burdette said. ". . . We want them to think they have an advantage over us so that we can come in with the mindset we will beat this team and accomplish a win."
Senior wide receiver Nick Adams has a special reason for wanting to play well. He's returning to his home state. "South Carolina is my home state, so I am not only looking forward to the game, but also to see my family and friends," he said. "It gives us a chance to come and show off in front of them."
A win would be a really great way to show off in front of them. As Adams said, "As a senior, it would be awesome. It would show how our entire program came together and won."
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