"SEC Nation" crew talks Gamecock football

By Rixon Lane

South Carolina vs. Texas A&M won't just be kicking off the season of major college football tomorrow night.

The matchup between the Gamecocks and Aggies will also be the first game to be broadcast on the new SEC Network.

The cast of "SEC Nation," Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow, and Marcus Spears, spoke with the media on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the big game. 

 

Joe Tessitore:

On Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill making his first start at South Carolina...

"I think it's such a tough spot to play. On the road, six o'clock kickoff, this atmosphere, this crowd, this team, the energy surrounding this program on the road. This is one of the great atmospheres in college football pre-game. From about 5:55 to 6:05 tomorrow night, there's no place you'd rather be on Earth than this place, rocking with 'Sandstorm' and 'Space Odyssey.' There's going to be a young man who's going to have to step in front of that crowd and play quarterback and that's a lot of pressure." 

On his impressions of Dylan Thompson's performance last year at Missouri...

"Obviously, the first three quarters, he would've like to go the other way, but he was playing against one of the best defenses in the country and against a lot of guys who are playing in the NFL now. I came down to spring practice this year and had a chance to talk to Dylan and watch him play. I also broadcast the game he had two years ago at Clemson when he was thrown in as the starter. I was thoroughly impressed. I think the guy's got serious arm talent. I think they may even be a more dangerous team vertically with him. I think they're going to be just fine with Dylan."

 

Tim Tebow:

On the atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium...

"I loved it. It was one of my favorite places to play. I have a lot of great memories from playing here as well. It's a special place. I definitely think they have home-field advantage. They get crazy, that 'Space Odyssey' got me hype when I was playing here."

On how the environment could be tough on Kenny Hill...

"I think it's going to be a rocking atmosphere, especially at night. I don't think the pressure's going to be overwhelming for him. Maybe if they sack him a few times, that might be tough."

On the keys to the game...

"It depends on what you're looking at. Early on, it's going to be special teams and turnovers. Will Texas A&M have the ability to stop the run of South Carolina with two good, experienced running backs? Dylan Thompson not forcing the ball, but using his arm talent. He doesn't have to be Connor Shaw and make a lot of plays with his feet, but he can. He's still athletic and can make plays. For Kenny Hill, when it's not there for him, my advice would be to pull it down and make plays, use his God-given ability, make plays with his feet, don't force anything." 

On whether Dylan Thompson's experience will be an advantage for the Gamecocks...

"I definitely think so. I would rather have talent than experience, but with Dylan Thompson, he's got both. I think he has a chance to do something special here. I thought Connor Shaw was a really good quarterback, great leader. I thought he had a lot of "swag." You saw him in the fourth quarter, he found ways to win games, won games when he was hurt. I think Dylan Thompson has that as well. I think they do it in different ways and it will be interesting to see how this team rallies around him."

On opening the show in Columbia...

"I love it. I love that we're going to to have a crazy atmosphere and this place does get rowdy. For me, that's one of the most exciting things about doing this. That's what college football is all about, at least in the south it is. That's going to be one of the best part about this show is that environment."

 

Marcus Spears:

On his memories of playing in Williams-Brice Stadium...

"Great memories. I remember the enthusiasm of the fans. We had a blast playing here. They weren't as good as they are now, but they still played us tough."

On South Carolina's prospects for the season...

"I feel good about the team. They have all of the talent that it takes to win in the SEC. They're built the right way. Offensive line, great running back, Dylan Thompson, who we think is going to be a successful quarterback in this league. On defense, you lose Jadeveon Clowney, but you've still got that continuity at the right positions. They're a little young in the secondary, which is a concern for everybody, but I think they'll be fine. If they beat Georgia and Florida, Carolina may be in the college football playoff this year."

On Texas A&M's struggles defensively...

"That's why recruiting and depth are so important in this league. I think you have to have guys who can come in and make an immediate impact. Watching A&M, they have to become more disruptive on defense. I don't think it was so much a scheme or schematic problems, they just weren't disruptive enough. If they can get that fixed, they can be a far better defense. I don't know how much of a change that will make this year because of the experience South Carolina has on the offensive line and with Mike Davis."