Spurrier: Offensive Line Making Progress

The Gamecocks strapped on full pads for the first time this fall on Thursday evening. The obvious question entering the night was how the new look offensive line would perform once the pads went on, and according to Head Coach Steve Spurrier, it's so far so good for the men up front. Read inside for a detailed report from Thursday night's workout.


"The offensive line blocked the right guys most of the night," Spurrier said. "We had a few holes over there on the inside, so that was probably the best thing they've done [this fall]."

The offensive line got more good news when sophomore lineman Garrett Anderson returned to practice on Thursday. Anderson is projected to start at guard this year, but he broke a bone in his right hand in a scuffle with Ladi Ajiboye earlier in the week. Anderson saw a hand specialist earlier on Thursday and had his hand put in a soft cast that will allow him to practice while the bone heals.

Of course, a head coach can always find some reason for concern, and Spurrier is no exception.

"Any time [the offensive line does] well, you worry about your defense," he said. "I usually hope the defense gets the best of the offense, and usually they do in the preseason."

Spurrier did have praise for two of his receivers. Sophomore wide receiver Moe Brown is expected to step up after an up-and-down freshman campaign, and Spurrier likes what he has seen so far.

"Moe Brown has improved," he said. "Last year he was just sort of out there and nothing good ever happened to him. He's made some catches and done some good things."



Steve Spurrier praised sophomore receiver Moe Brown for the progress he's shown since last season.


Another wide receiver, freshman speedster Chris Culliver, has been a mystery man at camp. Culliver is extremely raw, but his speed has the coaches excited to find new ways to get him the ball.

"He's doing okay," Spurrier said, "but he's got a lot to learn. We're going to play him this year. He can return kickoffs and maybe punts."

The biggest surprise of camp came Thursday afternoon, when junior college transfer Sam Pope told coaches he was transferring to Hampton. Both Spurrier and secondary coach Ron Cooper said Pope's decision was completely unexpected.

"There was no indication," Cooper said. "It came as a shock."

Cooper speculated that perhaps Pope was unprepared for the rigors and challenges of major college football, and he decided to transfer to a school where he had less competition for playing time. Spurrier echoed that idea.

"Sam wanted to go play," he said. "I think he has some friends up there, and he feels like he has a chance to go up there and be a starter. We wish him the best. We thought he had a chance to be a pretty good player, but he decided to go somewhere else."


Casper Brinkley Adjusting to Life at Linebacker

Much has been made of the fact that Carolina returns 10 starters on defense this year. However, there is an asterisk next to that number because one of those players, Casper Brinkley, is changing positions. Casper started all 13 games last season at defensive end, where he tied for the team lead in sacks and made 44 tackles. This year he is stepping back a few paces and lining up next to his twin brother Jasper at linebacker.

Casper had to spend the spring and summer learning a new playbook, but he feels like he will be ready when the season starts. The challenge is not in learning the plays, but in being able to react properly on the field.

"I know [the plays]," he said, "but it's a different thing out there on the field. A lot of different things go on in front of you. Your gap may change on the run, so I just need more experience doing it."

On top of learning to play linebacker, the defensive coordinator is putting extra responsibility on Casper's plate. Tyrone Nix plans to take advantage of Casper's versatility to create matchup problems for the offense.

"He will split time," Nix explained. "He'll do whatever we feel like is best for our team. He was pretty good for us [at defensive end]; we are just giving him a different look so we can be a little more multiple."

The extra responsibility does not faze Casper who just smiled when asked if he felt any extra pressure.

"I still remember the defensive end plays," he said. "Coming to linebacker is the only pressure on me right now. I just have to study the playbook a little harder."

While Casper is relatively unknown outside South Carolina, Jasper has been getting press nationwide as one of the best defensive players in the country. Casper smiled again when asked if there is any sibling rivalry between he and Jasper.

"I'm just proud of him," Casper said.


Notes:

- The Gamecocks are still scheduled to scrimmage on Saturday. The team will practice in the stadium beginning at 4:00 p.m., and then scrimmage at around 5:00 p.m. The scrimmage will features mainly the younger players, and the entire session will be open to the public.

- Running back Taylor Rank has gotten some work at fullback. He and Bryan Kingrey are expected to push Lanard Stafford for playing time.

- Dustin Lindsey, still recovering from the knee injury he suffered in the spring game, has qualified academically, according to Spurrier. Described by Spurrier as "50% of the Lindseys" and "the other Lindsey," Dustin had been suspended from practice over academics. His twin brother Jordin is still suspended, but Spurrier expects to learn his fate by Friday evening.


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