COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Steve Spurrier can even make a potential rout interesting.

Spurrier takes to a college sideline tonight for the first time in four seasons when he leads South Carolina against Central Florida, loser of 15 straight games.

Not much of matchup on paper, but Spurrier’s return has turned Gamecocks vs. Golden Knights into an event, complete with national television coverage.

All this build up has given the coach known by some as “Steve Superior” for his cocksure comments and brash style of play a few butterflies.

“As a coach, you always have a little concern about what possibly could go bad and this, that and the other, and you do all you can do to prevent it,” he said. “But at some point, you say, Hey, we’ve done all we can.’ “

Spurrier thinks everything is here for the Gamecocks to one day produce winning results like he did at Florida with six Southeastern Conference crowns and a national title from 1990 to 2001.

“You can feel things are different around here,” senior tackle Jabari Levey said.

Spurrier’s not predicting quick success. His quarterback, Blake Mitchell, is a sophomore without a start to his credit. His top two tailbacks, Mike Davis and Bobby Wallace, were in high school this time last fall. And few of his receivers have shown the confidence and dependability to let Spurrier’s “Cock-n-Fire” offense take off.

“Sometimes, I think they think it’s really a difficult thing to throw and catch and complete long passes down the field,” Spurrier said. “But the talent level is here to do that. I’m convinced of that and, hopefully, we can get it out of them.”

Spurrier said he might rely on his defense to keep things tight as the offense matures. “Whatever it takes,” he said, “whatever it takes.”

The Gamecocks could get a bit of a pass with UCF. Despite former Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary leading them, the Golden Knights went 0-11 last season. UCF is also young with 23 freshmen and sophomores on their two-deep lineup entering Williams-Brice Stadium.

O’Leary expects his club to handle the hype surrounding Spurrier and play well.

“I think games like this, there are no big speeches needed,” he said.

“If you have any blood in your system, you’re going to be ready to play.”

Spurrier hopes the same holds true for his Gamecocks.

“I hope we play like winners play,” he said. “Don’t beat yourself. Don’t do the careless things that cause you to lose. We’re going to try our best to accomplish those goals as we go through the season.”

AP-ES-08-31-05 1825EDT


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