Defense dominates scrimmage

Saturday's scrimmage was a struggle for the offense as second and third team players battled with each other to try and make one last push at the two-deep roster before the team begins preparations for the season open against East Carolina in two weeks. It was the defense that dominated.

There was a reason South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier opened a scrimmage to the public just two weeks away from the first game of the season - there just wasn't much to see.

"Defense took charge today," Spurrier said following the scrimmage. "They shut out the offense.We put the ball on the 30 and the offense barely made a first down or two."

The reason why the offense struggled is because neither the offense nor defense used many starters at all. All the scrimmage proved to anyone was what we already knew - the defense is much deeper than the offense. When you have inexperienced guys on the offensive line like Kyle Harris, Ronald Patrick, Travis Ford, Mike Matulis, Brandon Shell, and Will Sport having to block the likes of Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, Byron Jerideau, and Chaz Sutton it's going to be a struggle for the offense.

"They (defense) made very few mistakes, tackled well," Spurrier said. "I was impressed the way the defense played. The offense didn't do much at all. It was a little disappointing that the offense couldn't do much. The defense played their assignments well, covered well, got pressure on the quarterback."

Even though most of the offensive starters were on the sidelines, quarterback Stephen Garcia took a majority of the snaps. In Wednesday's scrimmage, Clowney pressured Garcia on the first play and forced a fumble that Clowney scooped up and took in for a touchdown. On Saturday it was Clowney again forcing a Garcia mistake on the first play. Clowney bull-rushed Matulis, driving him all the way into Garcia as he was setting to throw. The throw came out awkward and Marty Markett came up with the interception. It was a nice start for the senior cornerback who got some good news on Friday, receiving the last scholarship available for the 2011-12 school year.

"We had one available and Marty Markett is going on scholarship his senior year," Spurrier said. He's earned it - excellent special teams player. We've got two or three other guys that are deserving but this year we just didn't have any available."

"It's a big help," Markett said. "When I first came out here and walked on, I had to give my track scholarship back. It was difficult having to work and everything. Once I finally received the scholarship I was very appreciative of it."

Markett said he was actually in the financial aid office trying to get a student loan when he found out the news that he was going on scholarship and was happy to walk out of the office and head to the stadium Spurrier was impressed with Markett, saying that he was all over the place, intercepting one pass and nearly intercepting another later in the scrimmage.

Clowney was clearly better than anyone the offensive line threw at him, running around them, using a swim move to get by, or just pushing the lineman into the backfield. The freshman drew more attention in the stands than any other player, receiving several loud ovations from the fans in attendance.

"He's going to be one of our rushers, and one of our defensive players," Spurrier said. "He's going to play a lot, may even start. We're not sure but we're still a couple of weeks away. But Jadeveon's doing what we expected."

Garcia finished the afternoon 3-for-11 for 33 yards and the interception. Andrew Clifford was 2-for-6 for 16 yards, and Dylan Thompson was 1-for-2 for nine yards. That pretty much summed up the day for the offense. In 33 plays, the offense had a grand total of 61 yards.

"The offense was very lethargic seemed like - couldn't get much going," Spurrier said. "We hit a few here and there, but nothing much at all."

One of the biggest problems in the scrimmage has been a problem throughout fall camp - bad snaps. The few plays the starters did play was in goal line situations. On the first play, T.J. Johnson's snap sailed over Garcia's head. With Ford taking a majority of the snaps during the scrimmage, it wasn't much better. There were at least three bad snaps.

"We had another high snap today," Spurrier said. "It's embarrassing when we can't snap the ball in the shot gun. They're doing 50 snaps after practice so we'll do that every day. It may be the only way to get our centers to throw it back correctly."

Perhaps the AP poll could not have come out on a worse day than Saturday. The Gamecocks are #12 in the poll, but Spurrier wasn't having any of that.

"I tried to tell our guys today that we're probably an overrated bunch of dudes right now, overrated bunch of coaches," Spurrier said. "All of us are very overrated because we don't look very good. But we've got two weeks to see if we can learn how to play smart, play with discipline, play physical, and all those kind of things."

The team will have their first off day of the fall Sunday before getting back to action Monday afternoon.

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