On a weekend when Spurrier’s old South Carolina team is heading to Gainesville, McElwain is searching for the tire tracks of that 18-wheeler that ran over his team in Fayetteville, Ark. The 31-10 loss was only part of the lingering pain.
It hurt everywhere around The Swamp — in, over, under and around. There are so many injured players that McElwain ought to hold triage and not practice. Aside from starting quarterback Luke Del Rio being out, there were four other starters either lost or indefinitely sidelined with injuries, including starting linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone.
“I don’t think I ever had that many players injured,” Spurrier said sympathetically. “It seems our guys didn’t get hurt that much. Can you ever remember Danny Wuerffel getting hurt? No. Shane Matthews? No. I think guys get hurt a lot more than they used to.”
He stills pulls for Gamecocks — except for one game
So figure this one out: The former Florida coach who was fired and left to go to Auburn and then to South Carolina is coming back to coach on the field named after Steve Spurrier, who had a statue out front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium built while he was coaching at South Carolina but now works as a consultant and ambassador for the Gators. Are there split loyalties?
“It’s pretty simple,” Spurrier said. “When I was coaching South Carolina, I said I pulled for Florida every game except when they play South Carolina. And now that I work for the University of Florida, I pull for South Carolina every game except one – when they play Florida.”
As for Muschamp: “He’s a good guy, a good coach. Jim McElwain is a good guy and a good coach. This week, let all those coaches talk about the game. I’m a guy who used to coach at both places. I really think I need to stand in the background and watch at bit. Of course I’m pulling for the Gators.”
Yet he sounded very much like the coach of the Gators as he shook his pom-poms.
“We need to regroup,” said the Ambassador. “That was a lousy outing. Coach Mac and his coaches are going to get ’em going. I think we’ve got some good leadership on the team. We’ve got to have it.
“But it’s going to be a tough game. South Carolina has won three in a row and has momentum. They’ve got a freshman quarterback (Jake Bentley) and they’ve got some inspiration. We’ve got some issues. Got a new quarterback coming in (Austin Appleby). And hopefully the change is going to be good for us.”
Maybe it’s because Spurrier was always a big fan of “next man up,” but except for the 1996 regular-season loss to Florida State when both offensive tackles were out, he has no recollection of being hampered by a banged-up squad.
“I remember right before the 1994 SEC championship game … we were out there practicing one night,” he said. “And there wasn’t a single guy on the sideline with a green or yellow jersey on that the injured guys wore. And I mentioned to some guy, ‘Isn’t this amazing! We’ve played an 11-game season and we’re getting ready to play Alabama and we didn’t have a single person hurt.’
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