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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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View from the other sideline

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PROVIDED

Will Helms is the sports editor for the Daily Gamecock. 

The Battalion sports editor Carter Karels spoke with South Carolina’s Daily Gamecock sports editor Will Helms about Saturday’s football game.

THE BATTALION: What was the reaction from the students when Spurrier retired? What kind of job has Shawn Elliot done since taking over?

HELMS: Reactions were mixed, and justly so. Many initially expressed sadness or anger, but these negative emotions eventually turned mostly positive as students stopped to consider the legacy Spurrier left. A few remained disappointed, but most realized that Spurrier’s decision was best for the team and the University. Elliott brings a passion that Spurrier lacked in his older age. A stereotypically fiery offensive line coach, Elliott has not changed his coaching approach since taking the reins. Elliott has worked with new offensive coordinator G.A. Mangus to pump up the run game and restore balance to a previously pass-heavy offense and should bring some wrinkles to the game plan this week. The players love Elliott and have responded well to his leadership thus far.

THE BATTALION: How do Gamecock students feel when they play the Aggies? Is there more excitement since the two are cross division rivalries or is it just like any other game?

HELMS: I think this year the students feel like this is a revenge game. Many see the Aggies as the team that ended the greatest era of Gamecock football and badly want a win this week. In the future, I believe the game will hold extra significance for the students, but for now it is primarily the revenge aspect that has the student body so invested in this week’s contest. Many want the next Gamecock coach to model the team after Texas A&M’s high-octane offensive approach, so this game also holds significance for that reason.

THE BATTALION: Pharoh Cooper has to be the most talented player on the South Carolina roster. What can he bring to the table and what is a strength that A&M should be worried about?

HELMS: Versatility. Spurrier has always valued athletes and that is what Cooper is. He was only a three-star recruit out of high school after being his team’s best quarterback, receiver, returner, kicker and defensive back. South Carolina was the only D-I school to offer him as a receiver and he jumped at the opportunity to play on an SEC offense. He’s not the world’s best at any one thing, but possesses pretty good speed, a knack for finding the soft spot in the zone and a great knowledge of the game. If he doesn’t get off to a fast start, expect the Gamecocks to give him the ball in the screen game or as a runner/passer out of the “Wildcock” formation. 

THE BATTALION: What is South Carolina’s biggest weakness, and what is a strength that A&M should be worried about?

HELMS: To say the past two seasons have been nightmares for the Gamecock secondary would be a gross understatement. It’s been a combination of no depth and a timid zone scheme that typically has the corners playing 7-10 yards off the line-of-scrimmage, even in short yardage situations. I expect whoever starts at quarterback for the Aggies to have a field day against a meager Gamecock secondary. If I were an A&M fan, I wouldn’t celebrate prematurely, as Georgia’s Greyson Lambert went an absurd 24-25 against South Carolina. The strength that few have been talking about is a fantastic Gamecock special teams unit. Punter Sean Kelly is having a historical season, averaging 42.2 yards per punt while pinning opponents inside the 20 on nearly half of his 29 attempts. The Gamecock coverage teams have been abnormally strong this year and South Carolina has dominated the field position game. If this game is close, a big special teams play could swing the momentum in the Gamecocks’ favor.

THE BATTALION: How have the floods affected the South Carolina community and the players? Besides playing a home game at LSU, what major changes or alterations have occurred because of the situation?

HELMS: The University is on top of a hill which meant that the students were relatively unaffected. The city however has fared much worse with numerous dam breaches and destroyed homes and businesses. Campus was without drinkable water for about two weeks, but many of the students and athletes volunteered with city cleanup in the days following the flood. Things are returning to normal, but between that and Spurrier’s resignation, the team’s routine has definitely been altered.

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