Coach Spurrier's 5 Biggest Challenges for South Carolina in 2013
The college football season brings pressure and challenges to the head coach, players and staff of every football team. South Carolina in 2013 is no exception.
Throughout the course of a season, teams must deal with injuries, momentum swings, tough games and many more obstacles.
Head coach Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are a very talented team that has a great deal of added pressure from high expectations to have the best season in school history.
In order to win the SEC East, earn a bid in the SEC championship and a have a chance at a BCS title, Spurrier and his Gamecocks will need to battle through multiple challenges.
Here are Spurrier's five biggest challenges for the Gamecocks in 2013.
5. Beating Florida
In 2012, Florida thrashed South Carolina down in the Swamp.
Now, South Carolina will coldly welcome the Gators to Williams-Brice Stadium and seek revenge over Spurrier's old team.
Spurrier will need to teach his players to put the 44-11 loss behind them in order to avoid a repeat performance.
Playing at home will be a big advantage for Spurrier's Gamecocks who went undefeated at home in 2012 with seven home wins including a signature victory over rival Georgia.
Spurrier is well aware of how difficult Florida's defense can be to score on and that will be his biggest challenge in this game.
Spurrier is one of the country's best coaches and will have to find a way to motivate his players to defeat the Gators in 2013.
4. Connor Shaw's Health
Connor Shaw battled a foot injury and endured the wear and tear of a grueling football season as a dual-threat quarterback.
Shaw has not practiced yet this offseason after undergoing surgery on his foot, but he should return to workouts in July.
Last season, Shaw played very well through the injuries and was also an efficient passer with a completion percentage of 67.5 and 17 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Shaw's health is very important to Spurrier and this team because Shaw is the senior offensive leader on an otherwise younger team. He also allows the team to run the read-option and the faster tempo shotgun offense.
Shaw will definitely take some hits and be prone to injury if he keeps running with the football.
Luckily, Spurrier has a more than capable backup quarterback in Dylan Thompson who is a strong pocket-passer and great option at quarterback.
3. Week-to-Week Focus
Coach Spurrier needs to avoid every coach's worst fear, the dreaded "trap game."
The Gamecocks open up the year against North Carolina at home. They must stay focused on that game and not look ahead to their Week 2 battle with Georgia, which is on the road.
The same scenario could become a factor when South Carolina plays Mississippi State the week before taking on Florida.
Trap games can be a coach's nightmare and Spurrier must prepare his team each week to focus on the game at hand.
South Carolina could make a big run in the SEC and contend for a BCS title, yet the Gamecocks will not even get the chance if Spurrier's team slips up by losing focus and looking past each week's game.
2. Beating Georgia
As of late, Spurrier has had Georgia head coach Mark Richt's number as South Carolina has won the last three meetings, including a 35-7 beatdown last season.
Spurrier will look to continue the trend in 2013.
This game can determine the fate of either team's postseason, even though it is an early season game and also has a great deal of bragging rights on the line.
Georgia will be a very good team this year, especially with Aaron Murray leading the offense again. The Bulldogs' defense needs to replace some players, but it should be strong, too.
Spurrier needs to march his Gamecocks into Athens with confidence to beat the Bulldogs for a fourth-straight year.
Georgia cannot afford to lose again to South Carolina and South Carolina will look to assert true dominance over Georgia with another victory.
The rivalry game is early in the year, so both teams will be fresh. Spurrier needs to beat Georgia to have the edge for an SEC title run.
1. Getting the Young Linebackers into Championship-Caliber Form
Spurrier has the tough task of replacing a whole group of linebackers for 2013.
The young squad of linebackers has a lot of talent, though it lacks the experience that a coach wants for a championship-caliber team.
Spurrier will need to progress his linebackers' development and leadership at a quick rate in order to have the defense in form for the big game against Georgia and for the rest of the season.
Cedrick Cooper, Kaiwan Lewis, T.J. Holloman, Sharrod Golightly and Jordan Diggs must all play like experienced upperclassmen if the Gamecocks hope to win the SEC.
Defense has been a strong point for Spurrier's teams, especially in 2012.
If Spurrier wants to have a stout defense that does not allow points, he will need his young linebackers to step up and improve throughout the season.