Offense runs away from D in first scrimmage
It might not have been against the best defensive players on the roster, but for the South Carolina offense Saturday's performance sure felt good. The Gamecock offense had four trips to the endzone over the course of about 40 minutes worth of scrimmage time as USC made its first trip into Williams-Brice Stadium for their first scrimmage of spring practice.
"The offense actually did a little bit better than they normally do in these scrimmages so that was encouraging for them," USC coach Steve Spurrier said. "Our defensive players didn't play the first guys too much, but anyway it was encouraging to see some decent runs."
Running back Brian Maddox set the tone for the Carolina running game on the second play from scrimmage as he took a handoff from quarterback Stephen Garcia around the left side edge and raced 60 yards towards the endzone for the offense's first score of the game.
Along with Maddox, running backs Kenny Miles, Eric Baker and Jarvis Giles combined to amass well over 120 yards rushing and a handful of first downs. After not even averaging 95 rushing yards per game last fall, that performance had players on the offense excited.
"It was great. I said it a couple times man, we've got us some backs. We ain't see no runs like that in a while. The offensive line was blocking great, the quarterbacks were making their reads," wide receiver Moe Brown said. "Just to see us come out here and execute at a decent level was very encouraging, especially for our first scrimmage."
Brown would be the next player to get in the scoring action as he hauled in a 50 yard pass from Garcia on the next possession to give the offense its second score of the day. The touchdown also gave Garcia two possessions under center with two touchdowns, the most of any USC quarterback on the day.
Though he had a dismal performance against Iowa in the Outback Bowl, Brown says Garcia has taken great strides in the spring to take hold of the Carolina offense.
"This offseason you can see him maturing. You can tell that he's understanding and embracing the role that he's got to take this offense over to be his. He's trying to understand more, we communicate more on the sideline to each other," Brown said. "I think he's going to be great for us."
The reserve quarterbacks oversaw the rest of the offensive onslaught as Summerville native Reid McCollum engineered a drive that moved inside the 10-yard line on a long completion to Matt Clements. McCollum capped the drive on the next snap as he rolled left and hooked up with Clements in the back of the endzone for USC's third score of the day.
After redshirting and not being able to be at practice all the time due a class conflict in the fall, McCollum has caught the Carolina coaching staff and has risen up the depth chart very quickly.
"Reid, he did some pretty good things here and there. He hit Matt Clements on a couple of good balls. So Reid performed pretty well," Spurrier said. "I would say he's probably today, he's the second guy. If we had to go play tomorrow he'd be listed second."
The final score of the day came from an unlikely combo as walk-on quarterback Zac Brindise found Cliff Matthews on a drag route to the left side for a short toss that resulted in a 45-yard touchdown.
Though he is a starter on the Gamecock defensive front, Spurrier has said that Matthews will be seeing time on both sides of the ball this fall and might not end up being the only player to play both ways.
"Cliff Matthews is going to play some offense. I've already told the defensive coaches we're going to get the best guys on the field and he's one of the best athletes on the entire team. We've got to play him more," Spurrier said. "We need to utilize all of our players better. Sometimes I think we've got guys out there that shouldn't be out there and we've got some of them, the most conscientious guys standing over there with me. So, we're just trying to get the best athletes on the field a little bit more."
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