Friday practice report

The Gamecocks returned to the practice fields on Friday afternoon for their twelfth practice of the spring. The team practiced in pads and shorts, but still went through some intense 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice. The emphasis was on fourth down situations, with the offense trying to get in the end zone from 20 or 30 yards out.


"We did a little situational type stuff," explained Steve Spurrier. "Practice was okay. Nothing much happened."

Not surprisingly, given the task facing the offense, the defense triumphed on most of the snaps. The offense was able to score just twice. The first score came on a trick play, passing to Weslye Saunders who lateraled to Jared Cook and Cook ran it in. The second score came on the final play of practice, as Tommy Beecher threw a jump ball to Joe Hills, who used his size to go up and make the grab.

Spurrier spent Thursday in Augusta, where he watched the opening round of The Masters. Even though the Gamecocks do not have practice, he does not plan to go back down this weekend, saying, "That's plenty."

"We didn't really have a particular guy to follow, so we just followed around a few," he said. "I was on the sixteenth tee box when [Ian Poulter] made the hole in one. A couple of guys that were with me had never seen a hole in one. They were very excited."

Spurrier went on to add that he has hit a hole in one himself. While in Augusta, Spurrier spoke with Gary Garcia, suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia's father. The elder Garcia reportedly told Spurrier that the quarterback would be returning to school in the fall. Spurrier, however, downplayed the conversation. He noted that he has already spoken with Stephen, and that he must meet several university requirements to return to the team.

"We just talked golf and talked Tampa and football," Spurrier said. "We've already talked to Stephen. He knows what he has to do. If he can fulfill his requirements, he'll be back in August."

Friday's practice was particularly well-attended because former Gamecock lettermen were invited to attend. The former players were also invited to a reception Friday evening.

"It was good to see a bunch of lettermen come back," said Spurrier. "We're going to have a meal with them up in The Zone."


Geathers adjusting well to new defensive scheme

Clifton Geathers came to Carolina last year as a much heralded recruit. His brother and uncle both played in the NFL, so Geathers is expected to continue the family tradition of defensive excellence.

In his freshman season, however, Geathers did not have much of a chance to showcase his pedigree. He played in all but one game, but was credited with just two tackles and one quarterback hurry. Geathers expects much more of himself, and thinks new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has the scheme to take advantage of his skills.

"It's going great," Geathers said. "I love the 4-3 [defense]. I love being the outside pass rusher."

Listed at 6'7" and 290 pounds, Geathers is probably the most physically imposing defender the Gamecocks have. The flip side of his size is that Geathers has to work extra hard to get good leverage against offensive linemen. It also makes it a little more difficult for him to move in space. That was especially important when former defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix would ask his defensive ends, including Geathers, to play as linebackers in certain formations. Now that he no longer has to worry about that, Geathers can focus on what he does best.

"We were running some sort of three man front [last year]," said Geathers. "The outside defensive end wasn't down, he was standing up. Now that we're down in a [three-point] stance, I think we can make much more progress."

Geathers is very pleased with how the defense has performed this spring, noting that the unit has steadily improved. He also likes the strides he has made as a player, and thinks he can be a contributor next year.

"Spring is going great for me," he said. "The first scrimmage we had […] Coach Spurrier said I did the best on the defense. I came back the second day and came back the next day. Hopefully in the spring game I'll do much better."


Notes:

- After the offense scored on the final play, the special teams came out to attempt a field goal. After Ryan Succop made the kick, players began to walk off, knowing practice was over. As they did so, special teams coach Ray Rychleski could be heard yelling at them, "Congratulate him!" Several players responded with a rather unenthusiastic "nice kick."

- Mark Barnes missed practice due to a death in the family.

- Heath Batchelor and Terrance Campbell missed practice with what Spurrier called "academic issues."

- Weather permitting, the Gamecocks plan to scrimmage Monday evening.


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