Gamecocks Prep For Saturday Scrimmage

The Gamecocks practiced in shorts and shoulder pads Friday, giving players a lighter workload before they have their first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday afternoon. Read inside for a full report from Friday night's workout and a look ahead at Saturday's scrimmage.


Saturday's scrimmage will be a chance for the younger players to get some experience in game-type situation. Head Coach Steve Spurrier mentioned that quarterbacks Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley will have a chance to get a leg up on the backup job, while true freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia will get his first look under fire.

"If the fans want to see what Garcia looks like, this will be his opportunity to pitch it around a little bit," Steve Spurrier said.

Spurrier is not quite sure what to expect from Garcia, but he said he expects the prized newcomer to look like most other quarterbacks would.

"If he's got time and the guy's open, he'll hit him. If he's got no protection, and not many guys open, he'll struggle. It will be good to see which one of those freshmen receivers can make a catch or two."

The scrimmage will also give the offensive linemen a chance to sort out the depth chart. Spurrier described the competition for the three interior spots as "wide open," but talked about who would start if the team played tomorrow.

"James Thompson has done well," he said. "If we had to play tomorrow, James would be the right guard. I don't know who would be the left guard right now, either Garret [Anderson] or Kevin young. Web [Brown] would probably be the center."

Before the scrimmage cornerback Mike West will participate in commencement exercises at the Colonial Center. The junior college transfer will graduate with a degree in Retail management, and he is already thinking about his life after football.

"Hopefully I can open up my own store," he said. "My dad has his own construction business, a concrete business, and I'll branch off of that."

The fall semester will be easier for West now that he has less work to do academically.

"I'm taking some classes," he said, "but it will be easy just to play football. I'll get a chance to enjoy myself and my last season here. I can focus more and watch more film."


Isaac's Return Will Strengthen Secondary

Carolina's defense is expecting to make big strides this season, and one of the reasons for optimism is the return of senior free safety Brandon Isaac. The hard hitting defensive back missed all of last season with a torn labrum in each shoulder, and the Gamecocks struggled to get production from the free safety position as a result. Late in the season, coaches were so desperate for a spark they even tried wide receiver/quarterback Syvelle Newton at safety. Isaac is expected to provide that spark this year, though he is not sure he deserves all the praise.

"I just want to be out there to help my team any way possible," he said. "I think I bring some ballhawking skills. If the ball is in the air, hopefully I can try to make a play on it."



Brandon Isaac's ball hawking skills and physical play were missed in the Carolina secondary last season.


Isaac says he feels no lingering effects of the two surgeries he had nearly a year ago, and he has no problem lowering his shoulder to make a tackle. Secondary coach Ron Cooper said that missing all of last year was a blessing in disguise for Isaac.

"When [Isaac] came from junior college [in 2005] they were a little loose, and he needed [surgery] done way back," Cooper said.

When Isaac hurt his shoulders last fall, it forced him to finally get the surgeries he needed. It also gave him an extra year to get stronger and smarter, as well as focus on earning his degree in criminal justice.

"It's definitely made him a better person," Cooper said. "He would have been a senior [last] year, and would be gone in somebody's [NFL] camp [this fall]. Being able to come back and redshirt and get his shoulder healthy and be able to graduate is all a plus, I'm happy for him."


Notes:

- There is still no word on the eligibility of Jordin Lindsey. The team was supposed to learn Lindsey's status on Friday, but they now hope to know sometime on Saturday.

- USC released details for Saturday's scrimmage following Friday night's practice. The scrimmage will be in Williams-Brice Stadium and open to the public. The team will practice beginning at 4 p.m., and the scrimmage will start about 5. Fans are allowed to bring in water bottles, and concession stands will be open on the west side of the stadium.


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