Sept. 6, 2005
Steve Spurrier has enjoyed virtually nothing but success against Georgia. This time, though, he's not leading Florida into Sanford Stadium.
Spurrier makes his return to Southeastern Conference play when South Carolina visits the ninth-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday.
Spurrier went 11-1 against Georgia while coaching the Gators, including a 52-17 win in 1995 when Florida became the first opponent to score 50 points at Sanford Stadium.
Spurrier recalls Florida assistant Lawson Holland sharing that fact before the game, saying "Coach, if you get the chance you ought to do it."
Late in that contest, backup Eric Kresser threw a quick screen to backup Travis McGriff for the landmark score. "They didn't seem too mad about it," Spurrier said of the fans. "They only had about 10,000 in the stadium with about five minutes left."
Spurrier, however, knows the Bulldogs could get some revenge this week because his team struggled just to beat Central Florida 24-15 last Thursday in the coach's Gamecocks debut.
"It was not a performance that makes us think we've got a chance for a big year," Spurrier said. "Obviously right now, no one's going to be scared of the Gamecocks."
South Carolina got out to a 24-3 lead against UCF, but needed a goal-line stand with less than three minutes to play to keep the Golden Knights from making it a one-score game.
Spurrier did get some answers about his quarterback as sophomore Blake Mitchell threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start.
"If we didn't have a passing game, we didn't have a chance," Spurrier said. "If we didn't throw the ball successfully, we'd still be out there trying to score probably."
Georgia also erased any doubts about its quarterback position on Saturday after D.J. Shockley led the Bulldogs to a surprisingly easy 48-13 rout of Boise State, a team that went 11-1 last season and came in with its first ever preseason ranking at No. 18.
Shockley took over as the No. 1 quarterback after spending the last three years backing up David Greene, the winningest quarterback in Division I-A history.
Shockley completed 16 of 24 passes for 289 yards, threw five touchdown passes and ran for another score in the season opener. He also rushed five times for a team-leading 85 yards.
"There's no way I ever could have imagined something like this in my head," Shockley said. "It's too big."
Georgia coach Mark Richt, however, wasn't quite ready to call Shockley a Heisman Trophy candidate.
"It's just been one game," Richt said. "If it was game seven or eight and he was continuing to produce somewhere near that range, that might be something different. Right now, we're just trying to win our first SEC game."
Spurrier said he has great respect for Georgia because his victories against the Bulldogs while with Florida helped elevate the Gators' status.
"If you could beat Georgia, you had a chance to win the conference championship," he said. "That's the reason we started winning, because we beat Georgia. It has historically been up there and when Mark Richt got there, I think he took it to a higher level. He's recruited well, he's coached well, and they are one of the top teams."
The Bulldogs are 42-13-2 against the Gamecocks, and have won the last three meetings. South Carolina handed Georgia its first loss under Richt when it came into Athens and won 14-9 in the 2001 SEC opener.
Steve Spurrier had an 11-1 record against Georgia as Florida's head coach.