Defense Dominates Wednesday Scrimmage

Steve Spurrier got the first look at his starters in live scrimmage action Wednesday night, and the results were not as good as he had hoped for - at least not on the offensive side of the ball. "It was a pretty lousy scrimmage," he announced to the media following practice. Read inside for a full report from Wednesday night's scrimmage.


Spurrier later called the offense "sorry," and said the problems all started up front. He complained a week ago that the linemen didn't know whether to go left or right, and said the problem has not gotten any better.

"Linemen still don't know where to block," he said. "We say slide to the left and they can't slide to the left. We need to find out who can play after Saturday's scrimmage. I'm tired of watching Blake (Mitchell) and the quarterbacks get hit almost every time they throw the ball. We've got to find some guys who can block a bit, and we'll have a chance."

"We're a long way off. If anybody had watched us tonight, we'd be lucky to be picked fourth in the eastern division. I bet Kentucky and Vandy look better than our team tonight. We don't play for two and a half weeks, so hopefully we can make some improvement."

The coaching staff will use the Saturday scrimmage to identify who will play this year, and begin preparing them for the season. Spurrier said that especially applies to the offensive line. "We're going to find out if some of those freshmen [can play]," he said, and cited Quintin Richardson as a prime example. "I don't know if Quintin Richardson can play yet, but some of those other guys don't look like they're ready yet. We've got to find some guys that can block a little bit."

If the offense struggled, it must mean the defense played well, and Spurrier acknowledged that was the case.

"They played pretty well early," he said. "In the last period they didn't do very well. They had a pretty good night overall."

Late in the scrimmage, after the offense had struggled to move the ball, the coaches began starting possessions at the defensive 25-yard line. Once the change was made, the offense performed well, scoring "about every time." Chris Culliver had 34 yards rushing on 3 carries and set up one of the offense's scores with a long run from his wide receiver position.


Captain Is Comfortable Heading Into Sophomore Season

After sending four defensive backs to the NFL in the last four years, including two first round draft picks, the search is on for the next great Carolina cornerback. With five starts during his freshman season, sophomore Captain Munnerlyn has his sights set on putting his name next to the likes of Dunta Robinson, Johnathan Joseph, Ko Simpson, and Fred Bennett.

Munnerlyn made a name for himself last season with his physical play, out-muscling receivers despite his 5'9", 180 pound frame. This year, he plans to use his head to make plays. When asked where he has improved the most this offseason, Munnerlyn says, "Just knowing what everybody does."

"A couple of days ago we had a test, and I had to put when the linebackers drop. It's just learning what everybody does, so I know when I've got help. I'm feeling real good, knowing everything that everybody is doing, along with what the linebackers do. I'm feeling real good about this season."



Sophomore cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is emerging as one of the leaders in USC's young secondary.


True sophomores are not usually in a leadership position, but with a young roster, Munnerlyn finds himself a leader. In particular, he has taken senior and college graduate Mike West under his wing. West switched to cornerback earlier this fall after playing wide receiver last year.

"I'm teaching him a lot," Munnerlyn said. "Coming from receiver, it's kind of easy, because you know what receivers tend to do. I'm just teaching him how to stay outside [and] how to press. He's coming along real good."

Munnerlyn has never been short of confidence, and this year he is trying to spread that confidence to his teammates. He is convinced that if everyone studies the playbook, the secondary will have a good season.

"The secondary, we are doing pretty good," Munnerlyn said. "[We are] learning how to play with each other. We're doing real good learning each other's assignments. I'm just waiting on that first game, to put our secondary to the test. All this practice is just helping us to get ready for the game. I just take it a day at a time and keep striving for the best."

Munnerlyn is also working on special teams. Last season he returned 12 kickoffs for an average of 23.2 yards. This season he will take over punt return duties from Kenny McKinley because, "We don't want to get our star receiver hurt."

"Coach Spurrier, Jr. said the first game I'm going to be the man back there."

Backing up Munnerlyn on punt returns will be speedy freshman Chris Culliver. Culliver's speed is already legendary in recruiting circles, but so far, Munnerlyn says he has not been impressed.

"I can't really tell out here because I press him," Munnerlyn explained. "We really don't get a chance with him running straight ahead. I tried to race him after practice, but he didn't want to race me. I think he's never met anybody that can beat him."


Notes:

- USC is making some upgrades to Williams-Brice Stadium, two of which were being installed on Wednesday. There will be nets behind the uprights to catch footballs on field goal attempts. Also, there will be a new cover over the corner where the Gamecocks take the field for 2001.

- Thirteen players were held out of the scrimmage due to injury. They were: Rodney Paulk (shoulder), Leon Gamble (thumb), Jamire Williams (leg), Jim Hutton (shoulder), Taylor Rank (shoulder), Dustin Lindsey (knee), Kyle Nunn (back), Joseph Hills (knee), Mark Barnes (shoulder), Terrance Campbell (sick), Freddie Brown (groin), Bobby Wallace (shoulder), and Captain Munnerlyn (forearm contusion). Munnerlyn was injured during the scrimmage. Wallace and Hills are the only players expected to be out for significant time.

- Jordin Lindsey is still waiting to hear if he will be eligible to play this season.

- Freshman Patrick DiMarco, who practiced for the past week at linebacker, moved back to fullback. He caught a touchdown pass from Stephen Garcia in the scrimmage.

Statistics:

Scoring Plays:

Brian Maddox 1-yard run
Jared Cook 17-yard pass from Chris Smelley
Weslye Saunders 3-yard pass from Blake Mitchell
Patrick Dimarco 16-yard pass from Stephen Garcia


Passing:

Blake Mitchell 15-11-1-111; Tommy Beecher 10-8-1-79; Chris Smelley 10-4-1-41; Stephen Garcia 6-2-0-20. Totals: 41-25-3-251.

Rushing:

Chris Culliver 3-34; Brian Maddox 9-28; Mike Davis 4-11; Cory Boyd 2-11; Stephen Garcia 2-11; Blake Mitchell 2-(-5); Tommy Beecher 2-(-10). Totals: 24-80.

Receiving:

Weslye Saunders 4-55; Jared Cook 4-42; Brian Maddox 4-30; Mike Davis 3-18; Kenny McKinley 2-32; Cory Boyd 2-29; Bryan Kingrey 2-6; Pat Dimarco 1-16; Nick Prochak 1-13; Matt Clements 1-6; Alex McGrath 1-4. Totals 25-251.


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