First spring practice for Spurrier since 2001

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Wearing a new white Gamecocks visor, Steve
Spurrier returned to the college game Saturday, hitting the
practice field for the first time as South Carolina coach.

Spurrier hadn't done this since his final spring with Florida in
2001, missing the next two years as coach of the Washington
Redskins and sitting out last season after his dismissal.

Afterward, Spurrier was happy to finally begin the program's

"Guys were excited. Threw the ball around a little bit. Threw
some interceptions, but threw a few completions here and there,"
Spurrier said. "It was an OK start."

About 2,500 people showed up at Williams-Brice Stadium -- more
than five months before South Carolina takes to the field for real
-- to greet their newest hero and cheer even the most routine
practice moments.

They clapped when Spurrier -- dressed in khaki shorts, a white
shirt and black wind vest -- ran into the stadium and began working
with the quarterbacks. They cheered each time the Gamecocks hit a
long pass -- something people hadn't witnessed much under the more
conservative attack of former coach Lou Holtz.

For Spurrier, there was no extra kick at returning to the game
where he succeeded at Duke, then won six Southeastern Conference
titles -- and the 1996 national championship -- with the Gators.

"It hadn't been that long. Been calling the same plays you've
called for 20 years," Spurrier said.

Not everything went smoothly. During one stretch, quarterback
Antonio Heffner had two fumbled snaps and Michael Rathe one. When
practice ended, Gamecocks assistant David Reaves had the passers
out practicing center exchanges.

And Cory Boyd, elevated to starter with the dismissal of leading
rusher Demetris Summers, pulled his left hamstring during an
individual drill and remained on the sidelines much of the

Spurrier's first practice moved South Carolina's focus back to
the football field and away from the police blotter. Since the end
of last season, nine players have been arrested and Summers was
kicked off the team. While no one's happy with the problems,
University of South Carolina President Andrew Sorensen says he's
been pleased with Spurrier's strong response.

"I'm very supportive of how he's handled all this," said
Sorensen, who spoke with the players at Spurrier's behest on