Spurrier Jr. taking on increased role

The Gamecocks practiced for a little over two hours Friday afternoon at the Bluff Rd. practice fields. High school football coaches from around South Carolina as well as Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden were on hand for USC's ninth practice of the spring. Read inside as GamecockAnthem.com has the full report.

The biggest news of South Carolina's Friday afternoon practice did not happen on the practice field at all. USC head coach Steve Spurrier told the media after the workout that he was ready to delegate some of his offensive play calling to wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr.

"I'm still in charge of the offense. Even if he is the play caller, I'll be right there, (saying) ‘Let's go with this one,'" Spurrier said. "We'll have a game plan. He (Spurrier, Jr.), Coach Reaves, and Coach Gillespie (have a lot of time) to get all of these things scripted up. We're doing a lot more motions now… which may be helpful."

"He's watched me call plays and coach and all that kind of stuff. Maybe he's ready to do that and maybe it's best to do it that way. You've got to mentally grind that play calling all week long. Still, if the offense goes bad it will be my fault. If it goes good, we'll give them guys credit."

Spurrier, however, did not say this was in order to get Spurrier, Jr. ready for a head coaching job in the future.

"That's for somebody else to say," Spurrier responded when asked if junior would make a good head coach. "I don't want to get into the nepotism bit."

Spurrier also responded to recent reports that he would coach for the just the next four to five years at South Carolina.

"You've got to always offer four-five more years. I probably said that when I was 55 too. I feel awfully good, health wise. (I) workout more now than I did when I was in my 40's I guess. It is time to delegate a little more. I don't know how many more head coaches are still calling plays out there," Spurrier said. "There's no timetable. Everybody says, ‘How long you going to coach?,' I've always said four-five more years, at least."

On the field it was a typical light pre-scrimmage practice as the team worked out in helmets, pads, and shorts.

"The weather was nice today. It was a good, hot one," Spurrier said. "(We) had some good work today. Our quarterbacks and receivers threw and caught the ball pretty well during our pass skele- drills. Our defense had a lot of good things during our team period. Both sides had some good work. Special teams got a bunch of work. So, hopefully (it was) a productive day."

There was more good news on the field as running back Mike Davis returned to practice for the first time this week. Davis had been held out of practice with a sore hamstring.

"Mike's back probably at 85-90 percent. He may go a little bit tomorrow. Not a whole lot."

Clifton Geathers was also back at practice after missing Wednesday's practice. Spurrier said he believed it was an academic situation that Geathers had to take care of.

The news was not near as good for usual first string center Garrett Anderson.

"I'm not sure if they're going to have to operate on his back or not. They're waiting to see, so he's probably out all spring to tell you the truth," Spurrier said. "It's a lower back problem. I don't know if it's from lifting weights or whatever, I don't know what it is."

"Seaver (Brown) and (Ryan) Broadhead, they're our two guys. They're the guys we're counting on right now. Of course Garrett, is hurt, and hadn't practiced at all. (He) really hasn't played center, anyway. He may come back as a guard, who knows?"

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden was on hand to watch practice as he will be the featured speaker at South Carolina's annual coaches' clinic this weekend.

"He's met probably about every player. He's a very personable guy. He and I have a lot of similarities as far as guys who started off coaching quarterbacks, receivers, calling plays, running offenses, and so forth," Spurrier said. "I think he's going into his ninth or tenth year as head coach in the NFL. If you can last that long in that league you're a heck of a coach."

The Gamecocks will take part in their second scrimmage of the spring tomorrow morning at Williams-Brice Stadium. The practice portion will start at 10 a.m. with the actual scrimmage kicking off at 10:45. It will be open to the public.

Freeman Catching on at Receiver

Junior college transfer Larry Freeman entered last year's spring practice listed as a starter opposite Kenny McKinley on the depth chart before even taking a snap in the Garnet and Black. However, the 6'1", 223 pound receiver never seemed to get comfortable, struggling with consistency last spring and catching just two passes for 30 yards in his first season with the Gamecocks.

"When I first got out here it was a lot faster than junior college. People don't really think that, but it's a lot faster, you've got to know a lot, so it is kind of different," Freeman said.

Freeman has come on strong of late, and after a strong showing in USC's first spring scrimmage where he caught four passes, he's had a good week of practice, as well. Freeman says his comfort level has gone up a lot in his second year in the offensive system.

"The plays and everything, I've got them down right now. I think I'm a lot faster off the ball. I think I know what I'm doing."

Freeman stopped short of calling Spurrier's offensive system "complicated," but he does continue the trend of receivers who seem to look much more comfortable in the offense during their second year running it.

"He runs a whole bunch of plays, so you've got to really pay attention and catch on a lot. It isn't really that tough, when you've been around it."

Freeman credits USC wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. for his growth and development at receiver. The former Pearl River Community College standout has been rewarded for his play, by being placed on the first team offense for the first time since early spring practice last year.

"He's a good, smart coach. I think he knows what he is doing. I just try and take as much as I can from him."

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