Hills leaves team, USC preps for scrimmage

The Gamecocks braved the hot afternoon temperatures on Friday to get in a solid two-hour workout in preparation for Saturday morning's scrimmage. Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media following the practice session and discussed what he hopes to see from his team in the upcoming scrimmage, as well as confirm the departure of junior wide receiver/safety Joe Hills from the Gamecock program.


The scrimmage, which will be USC's fourth of the preseason, will feature mostly younger players, according to Spurrier. That includes USC's top two quarterbacks, Stephen Garcia and Reid McCollum, who Spurrier stated will receive most of the action on Saturday.

"Our goals tomorrow are to take care of the ball and execute. Again, our older players will not scrimmage much at all. It'll be mostly the younger guys. That means it'll be freshmen, sophomores, and a few juniors," Spurrier said. "(Stephen) Garcia's a young guy. He's a very young guy. All of the quarterbacks (are young). He and Reid (McCollum) will take most of the (reps)… Our quarterbacks need to play a lot. They haven't played much at all."

The Head Ball Coach confirmed that junior Joe Hills has left the football team a day after being moved from wide receiver to safety, but he offered no further insight into Hills' departure.

"Joe Hills is no longer a member of our team. It's as simple as that," Spurrier stated succinctly. "I think he wants to go somewhere else."

One reason why Hills was given a look on defense to begin with was because of the emergence of other wide receivers behind him, including former walk-on Stephen Flint. Spurrier was asked about the unheralded 6-2, 192 pound sophomore, and he described what Flint has done to work his way up to the second team offense this preseason.

"Stephen knows what to do, to start with. He's actually a pretty fast kid with very good hands. He can catch the ball, and he knows where to go. That gives him a chance to be a good player," he said of the newly awarded scholarship receiver. "He can come down with (the ball). He came down with a long one Stephon (Gilmore) threw the other night right in between two safeties. That was a pretty courageous catch."

Flint is the younger brother of former Gamecock wide receiver Michael "Wando" Flint, who played at USC from 2002-2005. Spurrier noted that the two brothers are similar football players, although he stated Stephen is faster than his older brother.

"I think he may be a little faster than his older brother. They're similar," said Spurrier. "His older brother was a good player, too. He just happened to be here with Sidney (Rice) and some other guys."


Jeanpierre embraces move to center, enjoys competition

Fifth-year senior Lemuel Jeanpierre made the transition from offensive guard to center earlier this preseason, and the veteran offensive lineman is currently locked in a battle with fellow senior Garrett Anderson for the starting center position. Jeanpierre, who is one of the strongest players on the team, insisted following Friday's practice that he is embracing the competition and that both he and Anderson are becoming better players because of it.

"It's just competitiveness. The starting lineup is not set in stone yet. We don't know who's starting yet, and I know that if I make a mistake, Garrett's right there. We're both fighting for the position. It's just all about competition," said Jeanpierre. "To me, I feel better because it makes sure that we do what we're supposed to do every play.

"It's a lot like what we were doing during the summer," he continued. "Right now, me and Garrett are in a position of competing. At the same time, I'm also competing with everybody on the o-line because just because I'm playing at the center position and getting a lot of snaps there, it doesn't mean that (Coach Eric Wolford) doesn't want the best five people out there on the field. It's still competition all throughout the board."

Regardless of who wins the starting spot between Jeanpierre and Anderson, both are expected to see significant playing time this year - at least until one separates himself from the other. According to Jeanpierre, that drives him to work hard every day, and he is thoroughly enjoying the competition this preseason.

"It's fun because I love competition. When you love to compete and you know that you've got a chance to go out there and compete to earn a spot, it's nothing but fun," he said with a smile.

While Jeanpierre officially made the move to center earlier this preseason, he said he's benefited from the fact that he started practicing some at the position a couple of years ago.

"Two years ago I actually started doing center a little bit. Coach (John) Hunt had me start taking snaps and said, ‘You might want to try this.' I've been doing it for a while," Jeanpierre noted. "Last year during the season I got some snaps at center in practice. I've been doing it for a while. Just now, in this camp, I'm getting more reps at it."

The 6-4, 295 pound lineman, who struggled earlier this preseason with his snapping but has since shown improvement in that area, closed by describing how seriously he takes his responsibilities at center.

"As the center, you're expected to be the quarterback of the o-line. When we get up there, we see the defense and make our calls," he stated. "We make sure the whole o-line is on the same page. If we mess up a call and there's one breakdown because somebody got the wrong call, that can mess up the whole play."


Notes:

- Saturday's scrimmage will not be open to the public. However, it will be open to the media, so stay tuned to GamecockAnthem.com for extensive coverage of the scrimmage.

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