Defense edges out offense in scrimmage

Coach Steve Spurrier began his post-scrimmage talk to the media on Saturday afternoon by praising the performance of freshman running back Bryce Sherman. He proclaimed the defense got the better of the offense on the day, but also expressed that he was pleased the Gamecock team was able to get a substantial amount of snaps in on a beautiful day in Columbia.


"(Sherman) was our MVP of the scrimmage today," Spurrier began. "He's a good player, gives good effort, and does what you ask him to do. He's a tough player. (Sherman) really did some nice running for us out here today."

Spurrier went on to say that he's never had a walk-on make such a profound impact so early in his time with a team.

"We had no idea he was a football player. We just thought he was a little track guy who could run fast, but he's definitely a football player. In fact I think he's a better football player than he was a track guy," Spurrier continued. "(Sherman) really came out of nowhere."

Spurrier claims that he and the coaching staff are going to try and reward Sherman for his notable performance in the preseason.

"We're looking in to trying to get him on scholarship here, he deserves it. (Sherman) is a valuable player for us," he said. "With Joe Hills leaving, maybe that will open up a (scholarship) spot. We'll have to file an appeal, but we're going to see if we can get Bryce (Sherman) on scholarship."

Stephen Flint had another good afternoon, capitalizing on his recent move up to second team wide receiver.

"Stephen Flint had another good day out here. He might have been our most valuable receiver today," Spurrier commented.

Besides Flint, receivers Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery had solid outings as well, according to the Head Ball Coach.

"Tori (Gurley) had another good scrimmage, and I think Alshon caught a touchdown out here today."

Jeffery actually caught two touchdowns during the scrimmage.

The Gamecocks have remained relatively healthy during the preseason, but Saturday's scrimmage saw several of the Gamecock players get banged up.

"We got a lot of snaps in, and I hope we didn't have too many serious injuries," Spurrier stated.

Many of the injuries, though, seemed to be merely bumps and bruises.


Johnson sees improvement from defense

"We had a decent day out here I think," Coach Ellis Johnson remarked about the defense after the scrimmage. "I think some of the players made some improvement, especially our (defensive linemen). I thought Devin Taylor played well along with Melvin (Ingram) and (Byron) McKnight."

With a defensive backfield full of young players, Johnson says that he was glad to see signs of progress from that unit as well.

"Same thing with the secondary, there were some starters back there that got a lot of snaps because they're young guys. I thought our young players that we're counting on to help out our depth situation got some good work and probably got better."

After poor a poor performance in Wednesday evening's scrimmage, Johnson claims he is more comfortable with the progress the defense showed on Saturday.

"I think we're happy with where we are. I feel a little bit better after today because in the last two scrimmages we played our (second unit) and it might as well have been a rehearsal or something like that," Johnson stated. "We weren't getting any pressure on the quarterback and the young guys were having trouble holding their coverage in the other scrimmages. I hope the film reflects some of the younger players making improvement in those areas today."

With defensive starters like Eric Norwood, Nathan Pepper, and Cliff Matthews being held out of the scrimmages, Johnson says the defense should be better than what the scrimmage statistics reflect.

"When we get (Cliff) Matthews, (Eric) Norwood, (Nathan) Pepper and some of those other guys that we haven't had out there playing together much this fall, we'll be fine."

However, playing in a conference as physical and rugged as the SEC, Johnson explains, a defense has to have back up players prepared to play at a moment's notice.

"In this league, you're very lucky to get through a season (without an injury to a starter). Some of these guy's that we are calling (backups) have got scholarships too, and if our (starters) have to miss games they've got to be ready to step in and play. I haven't seen players show that ability until today."

Along with Spurrier, Johnson says he and the defensive staff will start to develop an up-to-date depth chart after viewing the film from the past week's practices.

"I hope this film will help us find out who the guys are that will get the bulk of the reps in. Maybe we'll see that some guys have separated themselves from the others. We'll look at (the film) and try to get our two-deep (depth chart) put together to start preparing for the season opener soon. We're not at game week yet, but we are getting close."


Notes:

- Spurrier said the quarterbacks struggled somewhat during the scrimmage, describing both the performance of Stephen Garcia and Reid McCollum as "very average, so-so."

- Of the offensive line, Spurrier remarked: "Coach Wolford's got his hands full with these guys, there's no question about that."

- The Gamecocks will have Sunday off and begin practice again on Monday, followed by a scrimmage either on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Spurrier.

Injuries:

As mentioned above, several Gamecocks got dinged up in Saturday's scrimmage, but none of the injuries are thought to be serious.

Wide receiver DeMario Bennett fell on his shoulder and was limited in his playing time for the rest of the scrimmage.

Tunning back Jarvis Giles "hurt his hand a little bit," Spurrier said.

Running back Kenny Miles apparently pulled a muscle in his leg during a run.

Quarterback Reid McCollum bruised his elbow as he took a hit while attempting to throw a pass.

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