SEC Buzz

THE SCOOP

Count Steve Spurrier ready for the Gamecocks’ opener at 6 p.m. Thursday against North Carolina.

He had his opening news conference Sunday, managed to take a shot at Clemson and as always was entertaining. Spurrier, by the way, is 22-1 in season openers as a head coach, his only loss was 27-21 at South Carolina when he was coaching Duke in 1989.

Some highlights of his Sunday comments:

On UNC’s up-tempo style: “They try to do a little bit like Clemson. Snap it quickly and go. A lot of teams are doing that. Of course, the answer is you stop them and make them punt. The other answer is hopefully your offense can stay on the field a bit. We’ve been fortunate to do that against Clemson the last two years.”

On playing Thursday nights (they open next season on a Thursday as well against Texas A&M): “It’s always neat opening up on Thursday night - if you play well and if you win. If you don’t then it’s not very good. We’ve been fortunate. Hopefully that will continue. We know we have to be ready.”

On the quarterback rotation: “There’s no short leash on anybody particularly. We’re just coming to the ballpark Thursday night with all our players ready to play. Whatever it takes to try to win the game, we’ve got to use all of them. If Connor (Shaw) gets nicked up or gets the wind knocked out of him, Dylan (Thompson) is ready to go play.”

FRESHMEN TO START

  • Parrish Alford of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Ole Miss freshman Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson High, who was the nation’s top recruit last February, has surpassed a senior on the depth chart and likely will start for the Rebels at defensive end on Thursday night in their opener against Vanderbilt.
  • When Alabama lines up against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome, Hokies coach Frank Beamer will have 10 first-year freshman and 17 redshirt freshman on the travel squad on his side of the field. “That’s a lot of guys who have never been in a game and certainly have never been across from a team like Alabama,” he said. “But we’ve got to start somewhere and see where we are and then build from there.” Freshman Jonathan McLaughlin of Mauldin, S.C., will start at one offensive tackle for the Hokies but he did spend a year at Fork Union Military Academy and then enrolled in Blacksburg in January.

MANZIEL UPDATE

Count Roger Staubach as one who thought that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel might have trouble off the field — at first.

Staubach, the Navy and Dallas Cowboys great who won the Heisman as a junior in 1963, noted reports of Manziel attending NBA games courtside and enjoying his Heisman celebrity before the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma in January.

“I figured he’d have a rough bowl game,” said Staubach, who met Manziel at a Cowboys game last season. “But man, he was phenomenal.”

Staubach, who voted for Manziel in 2012, said it wasn’t his place to give Manziel off-field advice. But he said as long as Manziel’s work ethic remains high and he isn’t suspended, “he’s one of those players that … can deal with the pressure and also enjoy life.”

QUOTABLE

“He was one of my favorite targets last year. He’s a big target and very reliable. You know Mike (Bennett) is going to run his route the way he was taught and I can trust he’s going to be there.” — UGA quarterback Aaron Murray on the return of Bennett from knee surgery.

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