Spurrier: Still work to be done

The Gamecocks worked through a two hour practice on a perfect night at the Bluff Rd. practice fields on Sunday evening. On Saturday, the football team scrimmaged for the first time this fall with the offense leaving Williams-Brice with the victory. Coach Steve Spurrier seemed pleased with his team's performance following the scrimmage, but took a different stance Sunday after reviewing the tape.

"It was about like all of them, I guess," Spurrier said of the scrimmage on Sunday night. "[There were] a lot of mistakes by a few offensive linemen. Some guys did pretty well, though. There were some good plays, some good plays by the defense, too. But it wasn't real pretty; hopefully we can get better."

Despite the fact his quarterbacks threw five touchdowns and only one interception, Spurrier says the quarterbacks have to do a better job of going through their progressions and hitting the right receiver. Overall the passing game wasn't as crisp as it may have seemed from the stats.

"We had several dropped passes and a few bad throws by the quarterbacks," Spurrier said. "But hopefully we can get better. Hopefully we can. It's early in practice; we didn't want to be perfect yesterday. And hopefully we can be as good as we can be the first game."

Spurrier did credit Beecher for making some "decent" throws and Stephen Garcia for making some plays.

Two of Spurrier's top three signal-callers were limited Sunday after Chris Smelley jammed his right thumb and Garcia sprained an ankle during Saturday's scrimmage. Neither injury is serious as the two are considered day-to-day.

"They were out tonight, so Aramis [Hillary] and Reid [McCollum] got some [reps] behind Tommy [Beecher]," Spurrier said. "[McCollum] is coming around. He looks like a freshman, but he throws a nice pass. He and Aramis are coming around."

First-string center Garrett Anderson was also limited, after suffering a mild shoulder injury in the scrimmage and aggravating it in Sunday's workout.

Starters Jasper Brinkley, Jamon Meredith, and Mike Davis were held out again. Meredith and Brinkley were in walking boots, though Davis was out of his sling and should practice some Monday, according to Spurrier.

Tight end Jared Cook was limited again, but did practice for the first time since spraining his toe the first night of fall camp.

The Gamecocks will start two-a-days on Monday when they practice at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the "Proving Grounds." They will scrimmage again on Wednesday night, but it will once again be closed to the public.

"I wish for our fans, we could open it up to them," Spurrier said. "But if we open it up to them, we have to open it up to the media. And the media, they write everything in the paper about what happened and the way they saw it, so we have to close up. I just want our fans to know, if it were up to me we'd leave it open."

Lawing's young defensive ends wise beyond their years

If you ask any South Carolina fan what one area has cost the Gamecocks the most during their time in the SEC, then somewhere along the way, third-and-long and the lack of a pass rush will probably become a topic of discussion.

When Coach Brad Lawing took over the South Carolina defensive line in the spring of 2006 for his second stint as a Gamecock, the overall talent level and depth of the unit he acquired was not up to SEC standards.

Lawing and the rest of the Gamecock staff took to the recruiting trail to change that and succeeded by bringing in a top-ranked defensive line class that featured three defensive ends ranked 4-stars or higher in the 2007 signing class.

All three players - Cliff Matthews, Clifton Geathers and Travian Robertson - played last year as freshmen, and Lawing says the time for those guys to make a big impact may be now.

"We've had to play so many young players," Lawing said. "We had to play all those freshmen last year, and a lot of them weren't ready to play, but they had to. They are upperclassmen [now] in that they've played a lot of football."

The leader of that group of sophomore ends may turn out to be the 6'4", 259-pound speed-rusher Matthews, who has grabbed the attention of Lawing and Head Coach Steve Spurrier. At USC's annual football media day, Spurrier called Matthews a "hustler" and praised his ability to make a play 20 yards down field from his defensive end spot.

"His effort level is what really separates him from the other players," Lawing said. "We told him (recently) in a meeting that we call him the ‘exposer'. He exposes all the other people that don't try hard, because his effort level is so high. He's a pleasure to coach. The coaches in Cheraw did a great job on him. He is really a special player."

Matthews may get the recognition as possibly being the hardest worker on the team, but if he is, Georgetown, SC native Clifton Geathers is not far behind in that regard. Geathers played sparingly last season, but Lawing believes Gamecock fans could begin to see some of his enormous potential this season.

"He's made a tremendous amount of progress this last year," Lawing said. "His knowledge of the game has really increased. His best days are ahead of him and he knows that. He's going to be a heck of a football player one day; I just hope he gets there sooner, than later. But he's trying, now; he is really trying. He is really sincere about wanting to be good and try his best. His upside is tremendous. He's got all the ability in the world, I've just got to do my job and help him develop."

Travian Robertson, the last of the trio of former 4-star prospects, worked so hard packing on pounds this offseason, there has been speculation that he has already outgrown his defensive end position and would redshirt this year to move to defensive tackle. However, Lawing says to expect Robertson to play a lot this year.

"He's a defensive end. I don't have enough defensive ends [without Robertson]. He'll play inside in long-yardage situations [this year], but he's a defensive end. He'll end up being an inside guy, probably in another year."

Whether playing inside or out, Robertson as well as Matthews and Geathers could bring a pass rush to Williams-Brice Stadium that Gamecock fans have been waiting to see for quite some time.


- Spurrier said the staff will begin to put together the scout team next week, but for now they "still have open competition" at most spots.

- C.C. Whitlock missed Sunday's practice and was at home in Chester tending to some family matters, according to Spurrier.

- Defensive end Melvin Ingram practiced at defensive end Sunday and was 100-percent for the first time this fall.

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