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Garcias and Smelleys and Run Plays -- Oh my!

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Okay, so maybe my headline writing skills aren't the best right now. For those who don't know, I'm a legislative reporter, and session starts Monday, which means my life is flashing before my eyes.

In any case, I must apologize for not mentioning this pretty significant story earlier.

On the day he introduced his new defensive and special teams coordinators, Spurrier's biggest revelation was that he intends to add another dimension to the Gamecocks' offense. Spurrier, credited with introducing the downfield passing game to the SEC at Florida in the 1990s, plans to install a package for a running quarterback.

Fresh from the longest losing skid of his career and his first bowl-less season since 1990, the man formerly known as the Ol' Ball Coach is learning new tricks.

"I hear all these political people talk about change, and we need to change some things around here," Spurrier said. ...

Spurrier also conceded the need to modify an offense that was last in the SEC in rushing offense and next to last in sacks allowed.

"Offensively, we haven't been all that good, either. I'm not picking on anything," Spurrier said. "We've got a kid here now, Stephen Garcia, that can run with the ball. We're going to have a run-quarterback offense a little bit here and there. I hope Chris Smelley can run a little bit with it. But I'm convinced now that if your quarterback can't run with it, it's difficult back there. It's hard."

Spurrier pointed out that the Gamecocks converted 48 percent of their third downs in 2006 when the mobile Syvelle Newton started seven games. With Smelley and Blake Mitchell splitting time this past season, USC was an SEC-worst 35 percent on third down.

Garcia, a redshirt freshman from Tampa, Fla., and Smelley, a redshirt sophomore from Tuscaloosa, Ala., are expected to compete for the starting job this spring. Spurrier plans to watch video of a couple of teams that have designed running plays for their quarterbacks.


It might not yet be time to say, "Ready or not, here comes the spread" -- but some of Spurrier's formations are spreadish, and the only thing that really distinguishes them from some of the spread option teams out there is the designed QB run (and some of the more gimmicky plays that those runs open up).

This would not, though, really be the offense that Syvelle ran. The Spurrier/Syvelle hybrid's offensive philosophy was, "If you're final checkdown's not open or the pocket is collapsing, run like you're between Mark Mangino and a doughnut."

In essence, it seems that Spurrier's only decision is whether he wants to run Florida 2006 -- with Smelley as the dropback passer and Garcia in for the dynamic plays -- or Florida 2007 -- dropping Smelley altogether and just going with Garcia.

I'll go ahead and go on the record saying the time has come. In the 1990s, when his offense was cutting edge, there was no better play caller in the game than Spurrier. If he can successfully adapt to having more QB runs -- and that's still a good-sized if -- then his play calling could set up a long stretch of success for the South Carolina offense.

If not...

Well, at least the defense will only be giving up 150 rushing ypg. We hope.