Running game shines in scrimmage
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made reference to Tennessee coaching legend General Neyland following Saturday's scrimmage, saying that the coach was quoted as saying you must run a play 1,000 times in practice to run it once in a game.
His point – repetition is going to be key to USC's success.
Whether or not the players have been forced to run plays that much is doubtful, but the hard work is beginning to pay off for the running backs, as USC's four scholarship running backs finished with 188 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the day.
"Today was encouraging in the fact we were able to run the ball some," Spurrier said. "Jarvis (Giles) obviously can cut and go, and Brian Maddox is quicker and certainly stronger. We're faster at running back. I think we're going to be able to run the ball a lot better than we have in the past."
The biggest spotlight of the day shined on junior tailback Brian Maddox, who burst onto the scene with 55 yards on nine carries. The former T.L. Hanna star got the Gamecock scoring started early as he punched in an early drive with a 3-yard run.
Maddox continued to pour on the points as he turned a short screen pass from quarterback Stephen Garcia into a 33-yard touchdown reception for the second score of the day.
Once he heard that Spurrier was complimenting him to the media, Maddox called it a confidence booster.
"It definitely helps my confidence a lot. I'm just going out doing what I can do best," Maddox said. "To hear coach say that is a big thing, it's a very big thing. A very big deal. I worked hard in this offseason to prepare for this spring and lead over into the fall."
Maddox credits offseason work with new running game coach Eric Wolford and strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald as a new spark to his game. The runner has focused on gaining more power in his upper body which has led to quicker cuts on the field. It's something that hasn't gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"What'd he score – two touchdowns? He's busted his butt in offseason workouts, gotten a lot stronger and it's showing out here," Garcia said.
While Maddox's big day took the headlines, the unit as a whole performed very well. Fellow backfield mates Eric Baker, Jarvis Giles and Kenny Miles combined with Maddox for 188 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns.
Giles scored the other touchdown from the group during USC's move from a full scrimmage to end zone drills. The heralded true freshman from Tampa has taken much of the spotlight during the spring for his explosive speed and elusiveness out of the backfield.
Though he is battling with all four players for spots on the depth chart, Maddox is not worrying about what others are doing as much as what he can do.
"I'm not worried about any of that. I'm just going out there doing me and working on things I can control," Maddox said. "I can't control what Javis does. I can't control what Bake does or Kenny Miles does. I'm just working on the stuff I can control."
Brown goes on tear for receivers
While most of the quarterbacks and receivers on the day seemed to struggle, Moe Brown and Garcia found a rhythm and chemistry during Saturday's scrimmage.
Garcia hooked up with Brown twice for 59 and 3-yard scores, while Brown caught all but one pass that was thrown in his direction. (That non-catch was a breakup in the end zone).
"Moe Brown had an outstanding scrimmage. He caught everything he touched," Spurrier said.
The senior wide receiver hauled in his first touchdown on a wide open run down the middle of the field that eventually became the team's final score in the regular portion of the scrimmage. His second score came on a battle in the back corner of the end zone during USC's goal-to-go situation work.
His abilities to come up with the big catch didn't surprise Garcia who finished with three touchdown tosses and 191 yards on the day.
"He usually does catch everything so I mean that doesn't surprise us," Garcia said. "But he ran some good routes, got open and we were able to hit him a few times."
Offensive line, quarterback mistakes remains focal point for Spurrier
Despite a solid day running the ball, Spurrier still remains somewhat displeased with the mistakes by the offensive line and had players who messed up during the scrimmage running laps as punishment.
"But the O-line I thought had a pretty good day except for their dumb plays as we call it. We can't line up, Quintin (Richardson) lined up in the backfield about three times, and we had some guys who didn't get lined up when we were going on quick sound," Spurrier said. "Hopefully if we can get a little smarter and play by the rules a little better that's what we have to do. We're sort of running the guys that can't get lined up and we'll go from there."
Spurrier also harped on continued overthrows by the Gamecock quarterbacks as their current defensive matchups favor the receivers.
"We've got some 6-foot-4 receivers and 6-5 receivers and we've got a lot of 5-foot-7 defensive backs, and our QBs keep throwing it out of bounds. I mean even you could keep him in the ballpark, throw him a jump ball I would think," Spurrier said. "That's something we're working on."
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