Spurrier is low-key with Auburn next

Published September 27, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. - With No. 2 Auburn coming to town Thursday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is making no bold predictions.

"We'll be underdogs, no question about that," Spurrier said. "Maybe we'll find some ball plays here that we can use to fool 'em? Who knows?"

Such is life for the coach who once ruled the SEC with Florida.

Spurrier doesn't talk about championships these days. Instead, he talks about getting the Gamecocks to play hard, to play smart and, ultimately, to win more than they lose.

In his second season, the Gamecocks are 3-1 - winning the games in which they were favored (Mississippi State, Wofford and Florida Atlantic) and losing the one they weren't (Georgia).

"This team is not as talented and experienced (as) a lot of teams that I coached, anyway," he said. "We understand where we are. Our goals are simply to win more than we lose. We certainly think that's a realistic goal."

Before beating Florida Atlantic 45-6 Saturday, the Gamecocks had totaled 42 points. Before that, they nearly blew a double-digit lead against Wofford.

"We just can't win one by three or four touchdowns around here," Spurrier said after the 27-20 victory over the I-AA squad.

That close call left Spurrier furious with players' lackluster effort. In response he benched more than half his starting offense.

"We have a few that play as if they really don't give a dang, you know what I mean?" he said. "We've benched some of them and yelled and screamed at some of them.

"We ask that guys play their assignment, play with effort and enjoy competing. And we just quite haven't gotten that yet."

CONNECTICUT: Quarterback Matt Bonislawski has regained the starting job after sophomore D.J. Hernandez struggled in a win over Indiana.

Indiana: Coach Terry Hoeppner walked into his weekly news conference and tried to talk about football, even if everyone else wanted to know about his health.

"My passion is coaching football games, so it's good to be back," said Hoeppner, who two weeks ago announced he would have his second brain surgery since December. The prognosis: Hoeppner, 59, would miss two to four weeks. But his absence was on the shorter end.

Hoeppner said he had no restrictions and that doctors gave him, his wife, Jane, and his family the best possible news.

"The surgery happened to be on Jane's birthday, and so she got scar tissue for her birthday," he said. "Right now, I'm good to go, and I'm ready to go."

OHIO STATE: Ohio Stadium got a new playing surface. Workers laid 70,000 square feet of sod on the field, replacing a 3-year-old slab of grass that had badly deteriorated. Three home games into the season, there were large areas of worn and torn turf, particularly at midfield and within a few feet of both sidelines. Scraping off the old grass and laying the new field costs between $75,000 and $100,000.