COLUMBIA, S.C. - Watching TV in his house 350 miles away, new South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott could tell what was wrong with the Gamecocks' offense in their 20-7 bowl loss to Connecticut.
"When I was sitting on that couch and they were struggling to move the football, I just said, those guys have got to look toward somebody to lead them. Ultimately, I wanted that to be me," Elliott said Thursday as he was introduced to reporters.
Elliott comes to South Carolina from Appalachian State, where he played as defensive end, then coached for the Mountaineers his whole career, spending the last eight years as offensive line coach. He replaces Eric Wolford, who left after a season to become head coach at Youngstown State in his Ohio hometown.
Elliott has a tall task. He is the third offensive line coach in three years at a position where the Gamecocks have struggled.
South Carolina ran for 121 yards a game last season - 27 yards better than the year before, but still last in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks allowed 37 sacks, just two fewer than 2008.
Coach Steve Spurrier pointed out Elliott's teams at Appalachian State have been successful running they ball. The Mountaineers have averaged nearly 241 yards a game on the ground the past four seasons.
"We'll look into a lot of what Shawn has coached in the past and add a little bit of hopefully what we do well - which hasn't been a whole bunch of stuff yet," Spurrier said.
Elliott's memories of South Carolina's home are good ones. His father was a state trooper who directed traffic outside Williams-Brice Stadium, and Elliott's Camden High won the state title in 1990 at the same stadium, capping a 15-0 season. So when Spurrier called him after getting a recommendation from former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, Elliott drove down for an interview and followed up with a text message after the bowl loss saying he could help the Gamecocks get better.
"It's SEC football. It's the best football in the country hands down. So the move was a no-brainer," Elliott said.
Thursday was a new beginning for South Carolina, said Spurrier, who stewed over the loss to the Huskies in the Papajohns.com Bowl for several days, but is ready to move on, starting with workouts and a team meeting.
"We had a lousy game. I coached a lousy game," Spurrier said "My players played poorly, us coaches coached poorly. Simple as that."
South Carolina appears to be losing only one player early to the NFL draft. Defensive end Clifton Geathers didn't come back to school this week and wasn't at workouts Thursday, Spurrier said.
This weekend, Spurrier plans to be at the South Carolina men's basketball game to show off the trophy the Gamecocks won for beating Clemson.
"That's about all we've got to brag about this year," Spurrier said. "But there's been a lot of years when we haven't had that to brag about."