COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier saw exactly what he wanted out of his offense — and there was hardly a downfield pass in sight.
Spurrier, the grinning, visor-tossing mastermind of the "Fun-n-Gun" during his national championship days at Florida, has forged a new formula to succeed with the Gamecocks. That's on the ground with a relentless, effective rushing game fueled by a deep, experienced offensive line.
"Offense did some good things, ran the ball," Spurrier said after Saturday's scrimmage. "Came out and ran it, ran it, ran it."
Mike Davis, who rushed for 1,183 yards a season ago, carried just three times while backups Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson and David Williams combined for 96 yards on 16 carries. Wilds and Carson each had a short touchdown run.
Spurrier has used the formula to go 11-2 the past three years, and the Gamecocks are the preseason favorites to win the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division.
Not all the offensive news was good. Starting right guard Mike Matulis had to be helped off the field with a left knee sprain. Spurrier said the team would wait to see how severe the injury was and whether it would keep the junior on the sideline when the Gamecocks open up against Texas A&M on Aug. 28.
Matulis, who missed last season with a right shoulder injury, was part of a group considered among the best offensive lines in the SEC. Tackles Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell and left guard A.J. Cann have a combined 83 career starts the past three years. Perhaps that's why Spurrier sounds as happy about the ground game as he used to about throwing nearly every down with the Gators.
"Yeah, they played well today,' Spurrier said of the offensive line. "They were tired of getting pushed around a little bit."
That should serve Davis and the rest of the backs well. Davis was one of the SEC's top runners last fall but wore down because of injuries late in the season. He gained 100 yards or more in seven of South Carolina's first nine games, but combined for only 135 in the final four.
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