Offense not clicking, but Jeffery impresses

After taking Sunday off for its annual Media Day, the South Carolina football team returned to "The Proving Grounds" on Monday evening to begin the second full week of practice. Steve Spurrier said following practice he's not pleased with the sloppiness of his offense, but he continues to be impressed by freshman wideout Alshon Jeffery. Read inside for an in-depth report from Monday's workout.


Coach Steve Spurrier described the practice as "so-so," saying the Gamecocks could've done better in several important areas, particularly on offense.

"Our receivers dropped two or three potential big play balls, we jumped offsides two or three times, and fumbled the snap from center again so we didn't make a lot of progress tonight. We'll try again tomorrow night and let the young guys do a little scrimmaging," Spurrier said following practice. "We're not a sharp team, we're playing undisciplined, especially with the offensive guys, but we'll keep trying."

One of the biggest storylines for the Gamecocks thus far in practice has been the inconsistent quarterback play. For the first time during fall camp, all of the quarterbacks were out on the practice fields working on their technique and mechanics nearly a half-hour before practice.

"Yeah, we did a little extra throwing. We're trying to throw better because we don't have any accurate passers right now," Spurrier said with a little frustration in his voice. "Hopefully, Stephen (Garcia) is making some progress. You know, we've got guys open so we've got to hit them."

As has been common during his post-practice sessions with the media this preseason, the head coach once again mentioned that true freshman wide receiver Alshon Jeffery made some great plays during the practice and continues to impress.

"Alshon Jeffery had another two or three big catches. We've got to find out how to get him on the field right now," Spurrier emphasized. "He's a sure catcher, and we don't have a lot of sure catchers right now."

Lemuel Jeanpierre has overtaken Garrett Anderson as the first team center after Anderson had two consecutive poor practices at the end of last week. When asked about Jeanpierre's progress, Spurrier replied that the fifth year senior hasn't done anything special but that he has done enough to be the number one center right now.

"Lem was first tonight and Garrett was second," Spurrier confirmed. "(Jeanpierre is) playing ok. I guess he's doing a little bit better than Garrett, that's the reason that he's first. But we'll see how it all plays out."

On that note, the head coach has admitted he's happy that they have some good competition for playing time going on with the offensive linemen.

"We've got some competition out here. We haven't had that in the past," he stated.


Watkins making big strides in first couple of practices

Georgia Military College has been good to the Gamecocks in recent years, as far as sending South Carolina several players who ended up making a big impact during their time in Columbia. One of the most recent products, Kevious Watkins, said that two former Gamecock players still get a lot of love at GMC.

"They've got pictures of (the Brinkley brothers) everywhere, all over the walls down there at GMC," Watkins said. "When I found out that I was going to Carolina, I knew I had some big shoes to fill."

Watkins says there was a reason that he didn't have more offers from big-name football programs coming out of high school.

"UAB, Michigan State, Kent State, and a whole bunch of other schools offered me. It was mostly a whole bunch of mid majors that offered me because coming from the system that I was in in high school, we were in a four point stance playing offensive line so it was kind of difficult to evaluate me," the junior lineman said.

After two years at GMC, Scout.com gave Watkins a three-star rating as a prospect, and he garnered additional offers from more recognizable football programs.

"Oklahoma State, Michigan State again, South Carolina as you know, so they really shot off the charts when I got to GMC and made a name for myself."

With so many schools to choose from, what you might ask, led the coveted offensive guard to pick the Gamecocks?

"When I came on my visit I felt like I was at home," he said with a smile. "I knew a couple of guys on the team, and after I saw the campus I just committed to play for them on my visit."

In just his second real practice with the Gamecocks, Watkins says he had to get used to the speed of the game, but other than that he's had a fairly smooth transition.

"It was just the game speed, but it slowed down for me after a while and I've gotten used to it. It's gotten pretty easy now, so I'm just doing my best to learn the system," said Watkins, who went on to proclaim that he's picking up Eric Wolford's blocking scheme well because it's very similar to the one he had a GMC. "It's basically the same thing, just different numbers. It's the same zone scheme, same steps, same everything pretty much."

Despite being new to the program, Watkins has already shown signs of being able to contribute early. Watkins, who is listed by USC at 6-4 and 340 pounds, said he entered Monday nights practice as an offensive tackle but that he received a look inside and has since worked his way up to the second string left guard spot.

"I started out at left tackle, but today we had a little competition for the second left guard spot, and I beat them out for it," he said proudly. "So now I'm playing a little bit of both."

Watkins gives some credit to offensive lineman Jarriel King, another former GMC standout, for helping to make his transition to South Carolina a little smoother.

"It was a super benefit having Jarriel here. Ever since the first day I got here, he's been teaching me and helping me out with where I need to go on each play, what steps to take, how everything works out," Watkins said. "He's just had a big impact on me. He's been teaching me a lot."


Swearinger making adjustment from safety to corner

With the lack of depth at the cornerback position, the USC coaches have given true freshman D.J. Swearinger a chance to earn some playing time this season by moving him to the depth deprived cornerback position. Coming out of high school, the 5-11, 196 pounder was known as someone who loved to come up to the line and lay the wood as a safety, but Swearinger says he's getting used to the different type of role that a he now has to play as a cornerback.

"At safety you've got to be more of a hitter. At corner you've got to be more finesse and just get to the right spot fast," Swearinger said.

One thing that doesn't change is the fact that Swearinger still has to be able to cover receivers man to man.

"I never played corner in high school, it was always safety," he noted. "But we played some man to man, and I'm good in man to man so I'm comfortable with it."

The newcomer from Greenwood has wasted no time in proving to the coaches that he's capable of making the position switch. Coach Ellis Johnson proclaimed at USC's Football Media Day on Sunday that if the season started tomorrow Swearinger could be the other starter opposite of Stephon Gilmore at cornerback. That's largely because projected starter Akeem Auguste had missed the first week of practice due to injury, but is still a credit to Swearinger's progress early in the preseason.

"I'm just trying to do well," Swearinger stated. "Stephon and I are doing well in the rotation, and I think we're just getting better and better with more reps."

A true competitor, Swearinger stated that he's ready for any challenge thrown his way this season.

"I'm ready for it. I'm ready for any competition that's out there," he said emphatically. "I've just got to get better every day in practice and I'll be ready for them."

Notes:

- Joe Hills sat out Monday's practice for disciplinary reasons after he "missed something," according to Spurrier. The head coach noted that "he may be back tomorrow practicing, he may not be."

- Kevious Watkins said he was 360 pounds when he came on his official visit to Columbia, but that he has worked hard to drop nearly 30 pounds since that time.

- Akeem Auguste practiced with the team in full pads for the first time this preseason during Monday night's workout.

- Senior walk-on John Guerry, formerly a linebacker, has moved to fullback, according to Spurrier.

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