1) If the Gamecocks pull off this victory, how will it rank among the victories the OBC has delivered thus far?
It won't just be the biggest victory of his tenure; I have to agree with those who say it will be the program's biggest victory period. Remember, this is a team without a lot of tradition. Well, without a lot of good tradition, anyway. So beating No. 2 on the road when LSU is obviously one of the four elite teams in the nation would be huge.
2) There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing going on regarding your offense. Do you feel like you guys deserve the #12 national ranking?
I've got us at No. 13, and I'm kind of uncomfortable with that, but there's a few things here that make me hang with it. First, I still believe we're the second-best team in the SEC East and no worse than fourth or so in the conference. Second, everybody dogged Florida about their offense last year, and the Gators showed that a defense and a semi-competent offense could do pretty well in the conference. And, finally, we have a history of being terrible against teams we should mop the floor with. (We almost lost to Wofford last year, after all.) That said, I'm not sure we've earned a ranking that high so much as there really are no answers once you get below No. 4 on a ballot right now.
3) As just noted, clearly your offense has had troubles keeping the ball and keeping their blocks. Despite the myriad problems there, for those Tiger fans unacquainted with the South Carolina offense, which player do you think we should be most wary of and why?
There are two to be wary of: Cory Boyd and Mike Davis. I hate to give an obvious answer, but the running backs are really the only bright spot in what has been a pretty dismal opening for the Gamecocks offense. Between the two, they average 169 yards a game, on average, which is good for eighth in the country and second in the conference, behind McFadden and Jones. They're also the biggest threats in the passing game behind WR Kenny McKinley. I'd like to say there's a sleeper on the offense, but there isn't. At least not yet.
4) What do the South Carolina faithful feel most confident about going into this game?
Speaking for myself: That we will lose. I hate to say that, but there is really nothing to suggest that we could win this game. Even Spurrier is starting to suggest that a loss wouldn't be the end of the world, which is a very un-Spurrier-like thing to do. But we feel good about our defense. The defense -- which I think is probably at least as stout as anything the Bayou Bengals have faced this year, including the Hokies -- is the one thing that gives us hope for the season.
5) What would it take to make the entire season a success, in your perspective? An SEC East title? Merely a win over Florida (and Clemson, I assume)?
So far, I've stuck with an 8-4 season and a bowl win, hopefully with a victory over Clemson mixed in, which all seems pretty likely at this point. I've said that because it's progress, going from 7-4 plus bowl loss and 7-5 plus bowl win. That's still my benchmark, but the way the East is shaping up right now, there's no reason this team can't win nine or 10 games, with LSU and Florida as the only sure-fire losses. (And just so you know: Beating Georgia and wiping their arrogance away for a year is worth more than beating Florida if we're not going to win the East.)
6) Prediction for the game?
I'd love for this game to be close. I'd love to at least scare LSU -- and I don't rule it out. Spurrier showed a knack last year for putting his team in a position where they could win against teams they had no business beating. That same team, though, showed a knack for blowing it in the most unlikely of ways. (See: Florida) But I try to choose with my intellect and not my heart. So I'll go LSU 38, South Carolina 13.
Bonus question: To this point, how would you grade the Spurrier regime thus far?
B+. I want to say A, but there have been some notably bad moments (mostly thanks to having John Thompson as DC in 2005). That said, it's about as good as can be expected. People tend to forget that Holtz left Spurrier with an almost-bare cupboard, a horribly undisciplined team and a program that was pretty much atrophying under a head coach who, at the end, couldn't care less. To do as well as he did in 2005 was incredible, and involved not a few uses of smoke and mirrors. Last year, though, it was clear that the players were simply playing better. That's why there's so much optimism among Gamecocks fans. Some time very soon, we're going to have a legitimate shot at the SEC title. HBC won't have as much success in Columbia as he did in Gainesville, but he will establish us as a player in the conference.