Maddox breaks loose
After an up-and-down spring, rising sophomore running back Brian Maddox had his most impressive showing as a Gamecock on Saturday, rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns on just ten carries. Maddox showed solid vision and a burst of speed through the hole all day.
Maddox was rewarded for his progress this spring by being named the most improved running back by the USC coaching staff.
"That really meant a lot to me. I work hard every practice, every day in the weight room," Maddox said. "I just came out this spring, knew what I had to do in front of me. I knew the opportunity that was ahead of me, and just took advantage of it."
The 5'10", 220-pounder also received some praise for his performance today from South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier.
"Maddox ran hard. I think Brian led the state in rushing here a couple of years ago. (He) averaged nine yards a carry (today)," Spurrier said. "Brian is definitely our backup tailback there."
Maddox also busted off a 37-yard touchdown run — something rarely seen from the Gamecock offense in the last few years.
"That's the biggest hole I've seen all spring. My eyes got real big, and I just took advantage of it and scored," Maddox said about the long run. "My offensive line, they did an outstanding job. Kyle Nunn, I can name them all, Heath Batchelor, Justin Sorenson, all those guys; they did an outstanding job today blocking."
Maddox says the big crowd at the spring game, in comparison to the crowds at earlier spring practice motivated him to play hard.
"(There was a) bigger crowd out there. (I) just had a blast out there today, just went out there and worked hard. I really liked getting a lot of carries."
After a hectic first year in the SEC, Maddox says the game is coming to him a lot easier with a year in the system.
"Last year it was just like kamikaze; everything was just flying around chaotic. I feel very comfortable this year."
Despite the strong finish to the spring, Maddox says his work is not done yet.
"(I need to) get quicker, faster, and work on my blocking even more. I know the blocking schemes very well, but blocking, that's the toughest part in college football for a running back," Maddox said.
"Just come up here in the film room, we've got NC State on our minds."
Saunders finishes spring on high note, DiMarco to make move?
Rising sophomore tight end Weslye Saunders built on a rookie campaign in which he caught 12 passes with a strong performance throughout the spring. Saunders capped that off with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's spring finale, but he believes there's still plenty of room for improvement.
"I think I did subpar. I think I missed one or two blocks. And that touchdown pass at the beginning of the game where Chris Hail got me pretty good, there's still no excuse, I still should have caught the ball. I think I did pretty good, but not as good as I could have done."
New tight ends coach Ray Rychleski has harped on wanting his tight ends to block better and more consistently all spring long.
"We definitely have improved," Saunders said of his and Jared Cook's blocking ability. "Jared and I have some tough shoes to fill, being that Andy Boyd was probably our best blocker on the whole team last year. But we've done better. We've gotten better as the spring progresses, and I think we're getting where we need to be."
Boyd is still with the program as a graduate assistant now. Saunders credits Boyd with a lot of his progress both playing beside in and under him.
"It's pretty much the same as last year. Coach Chatham was the tight ends coach. Andy was pretty much in the same position he is this year — pretty much my coach. He's helped me a lot with my blocking technique and everything like that."
Saunders may be hard on himself about his performance Saturday, but Spurrier seems to be happy with his tight ends, especially in the passing game. The big pass-catcher was given the award for the most improved tight end of the spring at halftime.
"Weslye and Jared Cook are good pass-receiving tight ends and they've got a chance to be really good," Spurrier said.
According to Spurrier, Saunders and Cook might get some more company at tight end in the fall.
"I think one thing we've got to do is move Patrick DiMarco to tight end. Fullbacks, they can't get on the field in our offense enough. Our tight ends get tired," Spurrier said. "DiMarco is a good athlete that needs to get more involved. Maybe he can play both, though [tight end and fullback]"
Lecorn and Clements have productive day
Last year it took almost all season for the Gamecocks to find another receiver to complement no. 1 receiver Kenny McKinley in the passing game. Finally in the latter part of the year Dion Lecorn emerged as a viable threat. Lecorn built on that solid finish to have a great spring camp and spring game.
The Ocala, Fl native hauled in four passed Saturday for 85 yards and two touchdowns. The emerging star made plays down field on each touchdown, snatching a 34-yarder and a 28-yarder.
"I thought Dion Lecorn's got a chance (to be a big-play guy). We've got to make sure Dion doesn't get too heavy. He's a big, thick kid naturally. And he can carry 220 (pounds), but he's got to work to stay down a little bit to keep his speed up," Spurrier said. "But he's a very good receiver."
While Lecorn had a productive day, he takes the approach that he can always do better.
"I give it about a ‘B'. I think I could have done a little better," Lecorn said. "(I could have) ran a few better routes. I got tired a little bit out there and started slacking a little bit."
Lecorn gave credit to his quarterbacks and gave them a pass on their combined eight-interception performance.
"There were a few interceptions, but it was kind of hard going out there with the teams divided. Nobody knew (what team they were on)," Lecorn said. "It was a lot of chaos. I thought they did pretty good beside those turnovers."
"I feel when the team is together, all the starters are together, we're going to be pretty good."
Lecorn's class of 2007 teammate at receiver Matt Clements also had a big day, catching five passes for 68 yards as Chris Smelley's main target.
The redshirt freshman has shown excellent athletic ability and hands all spring long, despite not receiving as much attention as other receivers from that class.
Clements separated himself as a player to watch heading into summer workouts, but according to Spurrier he has work to do.
"Matt Clements made some catches, but he's not a very good route runner," Spurrier said.
Succop nails 56-yarder
Senior kicker Ryan Succop was given the Joe Morrison offensive MVP award Saturday for his performance all spring.
The future NFL-kicker kicked three PAT's on the day, and brought the estimated 31,125 fans in attendance to their feet when he drilled a 56-yard field goal through the up-rights and into the bottom row of the student section at the end of the first half. G "It's exciting to get an opportunity from that range and kind of show what you can do. We were just blessed to go out and make it, so it felt really good," Succop said.
Despite all the attention, Succop has remained humble.
"It's kind of fun, (the fans) come out here and they want to see some action, so just to be a small part of it is really a blessing and really exciting."
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