Spurrier pleased with offensive progress

The Gamecocks held their second scrimmage of the spring on Monday night, and the offense had one of its best showings to date, giving Steve Spurrier some cause for optimism. Read inside for a full report on Monday's scrimmage.


The scrimmage was originally scheduled for Saturday morning, but heavy rains forced Carolina to cancel that session. Rescheduled for Monday, the players seemed to use the time off to re-focus and play with some extra intensity.

"I thought we got some pretty good work done," said Spurrier. "Nobody got seriously hurt, just a few bumps and bruises. The defense played well at times. The offense did a little bit here and there. Hopefully we got some good practice in."

Running back Mike Davis scrimmaged after sitting out most of the spring with a hamstring injury. Davis looked sharp, running decisively and with power. However, Davis and the rest of the running backs did not have much in the way of running room, as the offensive line struggled to open running lanes. Ever the optimist, Spurrier suggested that an improving run defense may have shut down the running game.

"We didn't run the ball very well," he said. "I didn't see many holes. There weren't many to run through. I think our defense against the run is hopefully going to be much, much improved from where we've been. We've got nowhere to go but up when you're the bottom of the league in run defense."

The passing game was far more impressive than the running game. Quarterbacks Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher had nearly identical stats. Both attempted 19 passes and tossed a touchdown. Smelley completed 14 for 143 yards, and Beecher completed 13 for 142 yards. After the scrimmage, Spurrier declared the quarterback race even.

"You don't know who's in there and who's not," Spurrier said when asked to compare the two. "When one separates from the other then we'll know, let's put him in there. They've been even the whole time, pretty much. If we had to play right now I'd say both of them would play."

Smelley and Beecher had help from their receivers, who ran crisp routes all night, and made some nice catches. Tight ends Jared Cook and Weslye Saunders played very well, as they have all spring. Spurrier was not too happy with his wideouts, though, saying, "The receivers got a few here and there, not a whole lot." Pressed on some individuals, Spurrier acknowledged that three wide receivers stood out, including two very unlikely players.

Moe Brown and Larry Freeman both played sparingly last season. However, with leading receiver Kenny McKinley sidelined with a toe injury, the pair has taken full advantage of the opportunities. Along with them, Freddie Brown drew Spurrier's praise. Brown was a situational player last season, and figures to have the same role this year, but he is very good at what he is asked to do.

"Moe Brown is catching everything this year," said Spurrier. "Moe seems to have his confidence level a lot improved from his first couple of years here. He's developing. Freddie Brown, he's our slant specialist. He can catch the slant with guys hanging all over him. He does a good job there. Larry had another good scrimmage. Larry acts like he really wants to play this year. When Kenny gets back, it looks like we'll have a pretty good receiving bunch I believe."

The defense defended well, but the quarterbacks and wide receivers were on target all night. Cornerback Akeem Auguste did have the highlight of the night, though. Auguste was beat on a pass route to the corner of the end zone, but the 5'9" freshman reached into the air with his right hand as he fell to the ground. At first he appeared to be simply batting the ball away, but instead Auguste cupped the ball in his hand and brought it down to his chest for an interception that drew gasps from the small crowd who came out to the scrimmage.


Notes:

- Defensive end Travian Robertson briefly left the field with a left knee injury, but returned later wearing a brace and participated in the rest of the scrimmage.

- On one play, wide receiver Larry Freeman lined up in the backfield. He was supposed to run a pass route, but Chris Smelley audibled to a run. Predictably, the pitch from Smelley to Freeman did not go smoothly, and the offense fumbled the ball. On another play, Mike Davis took a handoff and dove into the end zone. He fumbled the ball, but offensive lineman Heath Batchelor pounced on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

- The Gamecocks will practice again Wednesday night at 7 PM.


STATISTICS

PASSING:

Chris Smelley 19-14-0-143; Tommy Beecher 19-13-1-142; Mike McQueeney 0-0-0-0 TOTALS: 38-27-1-285

RUSHING:

Mike Davis 6-16; Dion Lecorn 1-9; Eric Baker 7-6; Taylor Rank 3-7; Tommy Beecher 3-5; C.C. Whitlock 1-4; Brian Maddox 5-2; Mike McQueeney 1-1; Larry Freeman 1-(-5); Chris Smelley 2-(-8) TOTALS: 30-37.

RECEIVING:

Jared Cook 6-48; Moe Brown 5-63; Larry Freeman 4-39; Mike Davis 3-20; Weslye Saunders 2-34; Joe Hills 2-31; C.C. Whitlock 2-24; Jason Barnes 1-12; Brian Maddox 1-9; Larry Freeman 1-5 TOTALS: 27-285.

SCORING PLAYS:

Ryan Succop 46-yard field goal

Jared Cook 14-yard pass from Chris Smelley (Succop kick)

Larry Freeman 9-yard pass from Tommy Beecher (Stephen Huegel kick)

Heath Batchelor fumble recovery in end zone

Tommy Beecher 5-yard run

Mike Davis 1-yard run

Eric Baker 1-yard run

Jared Cook 5-yard pass from Chris Smelley

Mike McQueeney 1-yard run

Brian Maddox 9-yard pass from Tommy Beecher


To discuss this article, visit The Cockpit, our free forum, or The Golden Spur, our premium forum.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories