Defense limits offense in Saturday scrimmage
"I thought our defense looked pretty good tonight," said Spurrier. "They controlled the offensive guys most of the night. We looked pretty good on defense. The offense struggled most of the day. In the overtime period the offense managed a couple of touchdowns."
More importantly, quarterback Tommy Beecher showed some improvement. He had a disappointing performance in the last scrimmage, but redeemed himself on Saturday. Beecher went 9-14 for 89 yards, but showed improved decision-making.
"I thought he was better today," Spurrier said. "He threw some good balls. I think he threw one bad ball. He didn't run around too much today."
Beecher was just one of the quarterbacks to play Saturday, though. As promised, Spurrier made sure all seven quarterbacks on the roster threw at least one pass.
"I got ‘em all in, didn't I?" Spurrier smiled afterwards. "Is that a record around here? Put it in the books; I like having records."
As for how they actually performed, Spurrier was somewhat pleased. He was disappointed in the offense's inability to sustain drives, but thought the quarterbacks showed decent decision making. In addition to the aforementioned progress shown by Beecher, Chris Smelley and Zac Brindise also drew praise. After announcing his intention to transfer earlier this fall, Brindise instead returned to the Gamecocks and is now challenging Stephen Garcia for the third-team quarterback spot.
"Chris Smelley made a couple good throws," Spurrier said. "Zac Brindise came in there and hit a couple of passes for the third group. He might be number three now. If you based it on performance, he'd be ahead of Garcia right now."
Part of the offense's struggles to stay on the field was due to pre-snap confusion. The offense ran a number of plays that called for shfting before the snap. However, by the time the shifting was done, the play clock had nearly expired, leaving no time to audible, and forcing a hurried snap. The end result is that Spurrier is forced to simplify the offense until the players can keep up with the calls.
"It's fun to do [plays with shifting] in practice when there's no clock up there, but in the game-type conditions you've got to get them in there quickly," he explained. "We probably have been doing a little too much, too much shifting and jumping around. We'll condense the offense down. You're usually adding this time of the year, but we're condensing. We've got too many guys shifting and going in motion. It's neat on the board, but that clock runs down real fast, as we learned today. I hope it was good for us. We'll watch the tape, try to make some corrections, and try to find out who we can count on."
Johnson pleased with defensive effort in scrimmage
Switching to the other side of the ball, Ellis Johnson was pleased with the progress he saw on defense. Because he coaches the defense from the press box, unlike former coordinator Tyrone Nix, Johnson usually has to wait until he sees the tape to talk about individual players. He did say the entire unit swarmed to the ball well and showed good hustle.
"I think they did pretty good," he said. "We had two bad practices the last couple of days. I thought we'd come out a little more focused, and I thought we were. I thought we were a little more intense. Obviously we did some decent things, but we've got a lot of things to correct."
At any rate, Johnson was not paying much attention to team-wide production. Instead he continued to look at individuals as he searches for his best 11 players. He noted that Marvin Sapp has practiced well recently as he fills in for the injured Jasper Brinkley.
"What we're really looking at is individuals, and who's stepping it up," he explained. "I think we had some little bit better performances. I thought I saw an urgency and intensity, but we'll see it on film.
Brinkley is out with a strained ligament in the back of his heel. The injury is not thought to be serious, but Johnson is concerned about the lack of reps Brinkley is getting. As he works his way back from a heel injury, Brinkley played just one snap during the scrimmage.
"He tried to jump a back out on a route, and I could tell he really wouldn't let that thing go," Johnson said. "He'd been jogging, but he hadn't exploded and sprinted on it yet, and I think when he did and accelerated, I saw him pull back. It's a complicated thing, but it's not a serious injury."
Following the previous scrimmage, Johnson was very disappointed in the pass rush. He made that a point of emphasis, especially from the 4-2-5 and dime packages. The results were positive, and he liked what he saw.
"I thought obviously up front we got better push and better pressure," said Johnson. "I thought as a group they played a lot better. We had no three linebacker defenses out there. We tried to run a four linebacker defense in short yardage, but by that time we got some confusion about who was supposed to be on the field, so we went back to the spur."
- There were only two injuries to report. The first was to safety Darian Stewart. Stewart, who intercepted Smelley during the scrimmage, injured his left foot and left practice on crutches and was wearing a protective boot. There was no word on the exact nature, or severity, of the injury.
- Linebacker Rodney Paulk's chinstrap slipped off, causing him to take a shot to the mouth. He sat out the rest of the scrimmage, but is expected to be fine.
- Spencer Lanning and Ryan Doerr continue to battle over the punting duties. Lanning got the better of Doerr on Saturday, averaging 44.3 yards on three punts compared to Doerr's 39.0 yards on two punts.
- The team will hold one more scrimmage before the season starts. The younger players will scrimmage Tuesday evening, their last chance to make an impression before the depth chart is set.
- The Gamecocks will practice Sunday afternoon at 3:00. The practice is closed to the public.
Ryan Succop 42-yard field goal
Ryan Succop 41-yard field goal
Taylor Rank 1-yard run (Succop kick)
Ryan Succop 47-yard field goal
Ryan Succop 27-yard field goal
Freddie Brown 15-yard pass from Chris Smelley
Bryan Kingrey 2-yard pass from Zac Brindise
Tommy Beecher 9-14-0-89; Chris Smelley 7-15-1-109, 1 TD; Stephen Garcia 5-9-1-74; Reid McCollum 3-5-1-40; Zac Brindise 3-4-0-26 1 TD; Aramis Hillary 1-1-0-11; Michael McQueeney 0-1-1-0.
Eric Baker 12-32; Taylor Rank 9-31 1 TD; Kenny Miles 6-27; Brian Maddox 5-18; Aramis Hillary 2-1; Bobby Wallace 4-0; C.C. Whitlock 1-0; Zac Brindise 1-(-2); Stephen Garcia 3-(-4); Dion LeCorn 1-(-4); Tommy Beecher 3-(-17); Chris Smelley 2-(-18).
Kenny McKinley 4-35; Jared Cook 3-54; Taylor Rank 3-8; Andrew Power 2-47; Freddie Brown 2-38 1 TD; C.C. Whitlock 2-38; Mike Triglia 2-25; Jason Barnes 2-15; Weslye Saunders 1-24; Stephen Flint 1-22; Moe Brown 1-20; Eric Baker 1-14; Bobby Wallace 1-9; Bryan Kingrey 1-2 1 TD; Brian Maddox 1-(-1); Scott Spurrier 1-(-1).
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