Norwood Leads 'D' To Scrimmage Victory

The Gamecocks worked through a 92-play scrimmage on Friday afternoon at Williams Brice Stadium before taking off for Easter. Unlike previous efforts, the scrimmage was more productive and crisp, with explosive plays occurring on both sides of the ball.


The defense was declared the winner of the scrimmage, forcing the offense to run wind sprints afterwards. "The first offense outscored the first defense," Coach Steve Spurrier explained following the practice, "but the second and third defense outscored the second and third offense, so the defense won. We had a lot of good plays here and there. It was a good effort overall, better than last week."

The most glaring problem last week was in the backfield, where the quarterbacks struggled throughout the session despite rotating on each play. This time, the quarterbacks, who once again rotated, looked much better.

Blake Mitchell led the quarterbacks by completing 13-26 passes for 135 yards. More importantly, he tossed three touchdowns against only one interception. Redshirt freshman Chris Smelley, who has struggled mightily this spring, had his best practice so far. Smelley went 12-21 for 171 yards with no interceptions. Tommy Beecher did not have as good a day statistically; completing 8-12 passes for 90 yards with a goal line interception that Stoney Woodson took all the way back for a touchdown. However, Beecher was impressive with his hustle on the play, nearly running Woodson down from behind. "I thought the quarterbacks were much improved," Spurrier said. "Our offensive line was so-so again today, but I'm hoping our defensive line is going to be hard to block this year."

Other offensive players who made an impact were Cory Boyd, Bobby Wallace, Kenny McKinley, and Nick Prochak. Boyd twice ran out of his shoe (once left, once right) during the scrimmage. Boyd finished with 50 yards rushing on 8 carries and 72 yards on three receptions. One of those receptions was a short dump off from Smelley that Boyd was able to turn into a 66-yard gain. Wide receivers Larry Freeman and Moe Brown threw key blocks that help spring Boyd.

Wallace was the leading rusher, with 56 yards on 13 carries. McKinley hauled in two touchdown passes on his three receptions, for a total of 42 yards. Prochak did something most Gamecock fans thought impossible: leading the team in receiving as a tight end. The quarterback-turned-safety-turned tight end continues to impress in his new role, making five grabs for 42 yards. "Prochak did some good things in there," Spurrier said. "He's not really sure what to do every play, but he can catch the ball. He's got a chance to be a pretty good tight end, and he wants to play."

Woodson's interception was the result of a miscommunication by the offense. Two signals were given on the play, one false and one real. Wide receiver Jared Cook responded to the wrong signal, leaving him out of position on the play. Yvan Banag also scored for the defense when he scooped up a backwards pass and ran 25 yards for a touchdown. "It was an ill-advised backward pass that they just scooped up and scored," said Spurrier, shaking his head.

Eric Norwood, Travian Robertson, and Dustin Lindsey were also key contributors on defense. Norwood spent most of the scrimmage in the offensive backfield, on his way to being credited with 3.5 sacks. "Eric Norwood is always active," Spurrier said excitedly. "He makes things happen."

Robertson also spent a lot of time in the quarterback's face, but his biggest play came when he blocked a 52-yard field-goal attempt by Ryan Succop. Lindsey looked like the productive linebacker he was before his suspension, making a number of open field tackles. Safety Brandon Isaac also announced his return from injury when he flattened wide receiver Mike West over the middle.

Notes:

- Aside from Prochak, the tight ends struggled to catch the football. Alex McGrath, Foxy Foxworth, and Robert Pavlovic dropped a number of passes.

- Walk-on fullback Bryan Kingrey had his second fumble in as many scrimmages. The fumbles are bringing him attention for the wrong reasons.

- The Gamecocks have the weekend off before their next scheduled practice on Monday. They are expected to practice three times next week before the Garnet and Black Spring Game on Saturday, April 14.

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