S. Carolina’s Shawn Elliott only interim coach to win so far
Shawn Elliott shook hands, high-fived and fist-bumped fans as he made his way into Williams-Brice Stadium during the Gamecock Walk early Saturday afternoon. When he exited in the evening, he had shouted himself hoarse and joined his players in a celebratory dance in the locker room.
In between, South Carolina won its first Southeastern Conference game, 19-10 over Vanderbilt, to start the post-Steve Spurrier era.
Elliott was among four interim coaches appointed last week. He’s the only one to win his debut so far.
North Texas’ Mike Canales lost 55-28 at Western Kentucky on Thursday, and Southern California’s Clay Helton lost 41-31 at Notre Dame on Saturday night. Maryland had an open date, so Mike Locksley will coach his first game this Saturday against Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
A look at the interim coaches’ first weeks:
ELLIOTT IS ALL IN: No one can dispute Elliott’s passion for his new job, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s in charge of a flawed team. The Gamecocks (3-4, 1-4) rank at or near the bottom of the SEC in the major statistical categories and play their next two games on the road against Texas A&M and Tennessee. Elliott wasn’t looking for style points against Vandy; just a win.
Spurrier, who resigned last week, wasn’t on hand. He was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, appearing as the “guest picker” on ESPN’s College Gameday show before the Michigan State-Michigan game. Yes, Spurrier picked the Gamecocks.
Athletic director Ray Tanner presented a game ball to Elliott in the locker room.
“I do know one thing,” Elliott told the players, “and coach Tanner may not like this, but this whole team deserves a game ball. Every last one of you, because without every last one of us in this room, nothing would have been possible tonight.”
CANALES CHANGES QB: The most visible change Canales made in the wake of Dan McCarney’s firing was at quarterback. DaMarcus Smith rushed for 122 yards in his first start but he was inconsistent passing for the Mean Green (0-6, 0-3).
“We’re going to win. I promise you,” Canales said. “It might not happen this week or next week. It’s not about moral victories, and I get that. But we’re going to win. I’m trying to build passion and enthusiasm, and I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.”
HELTON HAS HOPE: Helton and receiver JuJu Smith celebrated a touchdown with a jumping shoulder bump, and it looked like the good times would keep rolling when the Trojans erased a 14-point deficit to lead 31-24 in the third. The Irish scored on three straight drives in the second half to win.
Helton, who took over for Steve Sarkisian last Monday, now must prepare the Trojans (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) for a home game against third-ranked Utah.
“There’s no reason we can’t go win the Pac-12 South,” Helton said.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org