Cool Weather, Cold QBs on Friday Night

The head ball coach mixed things up a little bit Friday night after practice, announcing that on Saturday when his South Carolina team put on their full pads for the first time this fall, that they would scrimmage, primarily using the younger players. Saturday's practice at 7:30 pm is the last announced practice that will be open to the public.

Steve Spurrier was pleased with the weather Friday night, but he wasn't quite as pleased with the performance of his offense. The Gamecock football squad worked out in helmets and shoulder pads for about two hours in near perfect weather conditions during their fourth practice of the fall camp.

"We had good weather tonight - it wasn't extremely hot and we had a little breeze so our players were not exhausted tonight," Spurrier said following the workout. "We'll put full pads on Saturday night and maybe let the young guys scrimmage a little bit out here. It will be open to the public tomorrow, then after that we'll probably have to close up next week. We'll be open tomorrow night if our fans want to come out and watch it." Saturday night's practice is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Proving Grounds.

Redshirt freshman Aramis Hillary began the night with the perception of being the third string quarterback behind Stephen Garcia and Reid McCollum, but had the best performance of the night among the quarterbacks, as the passing game struggled overall. Spurrier jumped up and gave a high five to running game coordinator/offensive line coach Eric Wolford after Jason Barnes caught a pass from Hillary after a long drought. "Yeah, I was excited man," Spurrier exclaimed.

"It was the first completion in about an hour. We hit a pass past the line of scrimmage, and I think it was the first one in the whole work."

Spurrier gave praise where it was due to Hillary, saying "Aramis completed a few," he said. "The offense didn't complete many, but Aramis hit a few here and there."

When asked about starter Stephen Garcia, the coach acknowledged a rough night for the redshirt sophomore. "Stephen is not throwing real beautifully, if that's what you mean," said Spurrier. "He's not throwing as accurately as he needs to and we hope he can. We'll keep working on it. He needs to throw the ball a lot better than he's thrown the last couple of days or we really will be a running team. But we're going to run the ball anyway. Hopefully we'll be able to throw it a bit. We think he can make all the throws, but we've struggled throwing the ball thus far."

Last season it was the running game that struggled the most in Spurrier's offense, but the Head Ball Coach said, "The running backs are looking fine," after Friday's practice. "We had a few fumbles though. Jarvis (Giles) lost one or two, so we have to get that corrected. But the running backs are running hard and quick and trying to hit the holes."

While Eric Baker is still being held out of practice due to injury, the other four running backs have looked consistently good thus far under new running backs coach Jay Graham and Wolford, the run game coordinator. Junior Brian Maddox is the presumed starter, but highly touted freshman Jarvis Giles and redshirt freshman Kenny Miles have also looked good, and walk-on Bryce Sherman continues to impress with his speed and moves with the ball in his hands.

Spurrier declined to say that the starting spots for the offensive line are close to being decided on, but did say that JUCO newcomers Rokevious Watson and Steven Singleton are expected to practice for the first time on Saturday, and left room for them to show they are ready to challenge for starting roles. "It's still early, and we've got the two big junior college guys," he said. "We'll see what they look like."

The good news of the night was that there were no new injuries to report following practice. Spurrier indicated he was pleased with the way his players maintained their control after several big hits during practice on Thursday. "Sometimes you just have to say, hey, we're not going to have those hits that are going to hurt anybody," he said. "We had to have a little talk about that, and our guys were fine after that."

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