Shawn Elliott has officially been named the South Carolina interim head coach.
Elliott boasts 19 years of coaching experience, but will serve as a head coach for the first time in his career. Elliott, who has been an assistant on Steve Spurrier’s coaching staff the past six years and was the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach until Tuesday, will coach his first game Saturday as South Carolina plays host to Vanderbilt at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind for the South Carolina football program, but Elliott remained confident the players — if focused — will respond in a big way Saturday.
“It’s going to be tough, but you’ve got to address it early and make sure the goal in mind is to win,” Elliott said Tuesday. “Our football team … winning makes them feel pretty good. They want to win badly along with our coaches and university. They need to get this behind us and have a great practice today and continue.
“This is not business as usual. We’re going to have distractions, and how we get over those distractions will dictate how we’ll play Saturday. I’m thrilled to death to lead the University of South Carolina for one game, six games. … We’re going to fight hard. This staff has a lot of ‘stuff’ to us and we’re going to come out swinging. This team will rally behind us.”
Elliott, a Camden, S.C. native, began his career at South Carolina as the running game coordinator in 2010. Two years later, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator.
In 2013, Elliott helped engineer a South Carolina offense which averaged 34.1 points per game and 452.3 yards per game, the highest mark in school history. Last season, the Gamecocks averaged nearly 33 points per game and 440 yards per contest.
Here’s what else Elliott had to say:
- On the team’s current state… “The team is not in shambles, as some might say. We have a lot of energetic young men ready to lay it on the line. I’m not sure at this point change is what they need, but change is what they got. I’m going to take my opportunity and our opportunity as coaches and move forward to do everything we can make the University of South Carolina proud of this football program.”
- On if he will ask Spurrier for advice… “Are you kidding me? The experience speaks for itself. I need help. Our coaches need help. Our players need help. We need suggestions from the best in the business. We’re all in this together. There are no experts right now. We need guidance. We’re going to have great ideas, but we’re going to bounce them off coach (Spurrier). He may be stepping away, but he’s not too far away.”
- On his situation compared to Dabo Swinney’s at Clemson seven years ago… “I certainly didn’t take this position today or last evening to throw it in the hat six games away. We’re going to fight our tails off. I’d love to be head coach of South Carolina for many years to come. We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us. We’ve got to win ball games, recruit great players. We’ve got to get this fan base back on board.”
- On South Carolina’s talent compared to the rest of the SEC... “We’ve got good talent. We need to put a consistent game together. If you go back and reflect on the LSU game, you saw a first half with two equal teams playing. If we put together four quarters, who knows. There’s a lot of heart and great individuals who play for us. We’ve got to have some input and extra effort from some individuals and all our coaches. It’s a group effort, but we can fight with anyone in the SEC.”
- On South Carolina’s recruiting class… “You got to touch base with them, through phone calls and sending messages. We’ve got to play a game this Saturday and focus our energy and efforts on beating Vanderbilt. We need to get in touch with our prospects and tell them exactly what needs to be said. Once we play this football game, we’ll develop a plan. We have an open date next week and the plan will be put in motion. There’s a lot of other things to accomplish between now and Saturday. That open week is big for our recruiting efforts.”
(Video by The State Newspaper)