Practice Report: Defense Continues To Impress

The Gamecocks returned to the practice fields on Wednesday night to kick off week two of spring camp. The team opened the workout by going through drills, and then capped off the night by heading over to Williams-Brice Stadium for a scrimmage.


The defense, particularly the defensive line, again controlled the scrimmage, but the offense managed to do enough positive things to satisfy Coach Steve Spurrier. "We had some good plays here and there on both sides," he said. "There were some encouraging things. There were a lot of good things. That's why you practice and scrimmage: to learn from your mistakes."

Spurrier admitted that it can be difficult to assess the offense, especially the quarterbacks, when the offensive line struggles like it did Wednesday night. In order to get the best look at his quarterbacks, the Ball Coach has to change where he stands during practice. "That's why I wanted to stand right back there next to them tonight," he explained, "to see if they did have a little time or not. You've still got to get rid of it. Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher did some things here and there. They just have to learn how to get rid of the ball and not take sacks."

The offensive line did get a boost with the return of tackle Justin Sorensen, who had been out of practice after being injured in a bar scuffle. However, Sorensen saw limited reps, and Spurrier did not see enough of the offensive line to tell if they have made any improvements. "I don't know," he said, shaking his head. "We'll have to watch the tape. It seems like the defensive guys are playing harder and faster than the offensive line right now."

Spurrier was excited about the defensive side of the match up, saying, "We've got a fierce pass rush right now. If we'd had that during the season last year we might've won about five games we lost. Our defensive guys are flying around pretty well right now, but again it's all relative to your competition."


Notes:

- Quarterback Stephen Garcia once again watched from the sidelines. However, this time he was flanked by running back Mike Davis and 2007 signee Mark Barnes. Garcia and Davis played catch for a while before Barnes, his left arm still in a sling, joined in. Davis moved well, showing no effects from offseason knee surgery, and Barnes, with the sling dangling from his shoulder made a one-handed catch from Garcia. Barnes then turned to reporters, smiled, and asked, "Did you guys see that?"

- For the first time this spring, the coaches let the players hit each other. All the pent up energy led to a few hard hits. Emanuel Cook flattened Taylor Rank on a swing pass, and Captain Munnerlyn made some hits in run support that seemed more befitting a linebacker than a cornerback. However, he was on the wrong end of the contact when he took on Mike west, who broke several tackles for a long gain on an end around.

- Newcomers Ladi Ajiboye and Jonathan Williams both practiced with the first team defensive line on Wednesday.

- The Gamecocks will practice again Thursday night at 7:30 and then Friday at 4:15. They will have their next scrimmage Saturday morning at 10:00. All practices are open to the public.

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