"Good practice tonight," said Spurrier following the practice session. "Good spirits, a lot of energy amongst our guys. I think we made some improvement tonight, offense, defense, and special teams. The guys are hustling, and really hustling a lot more than maybe we're used to around here. So it was encouraging, tonight's practice was very encouraging."
Even with the high energy and positive vibes surrounding the first couple days of practice, today wasn't without some bad news as it came out that wide receiver Stephen Flint had left the football team as of this afternoon. Not only did Flint serve as a backup at receiver, but was also a holder on special teams.
The junior wideout from Mount Pleasant quit the football team after reportedly losing the desire to play. Coach Spurrier confirmed the bad news following practice.
"Stephen Flint quit yesterday, and that's probably all I need to say about it," added Spurrier. "I think (he) needed this team more than we needed him. But his choice was not to play anymore, so that's a choice he's got to live with."
One player seen working at holder today was true freshman receiver Ace Sanders, who has impressed onlookers all week with his lightning-quick speed and flashy moves. But Spurrier said that between Sanders and backup QB Seth Strickland, the holder position would be in great hands with the departure of Flint.
"Ace Sanders is an excellent holder," said Spurrier. "He'll catch that ball spin it, and put it down there just as fast as anyone we've got. He and Seth (Strickland), our backup quarterback, signal man, those two will in all likelihood be our holders. They're excellent holders. You want the best holder. Ace Sanders is very good at that. We're okay right now."
Of course another freshman that has been on the minds of many Gamecocks has been running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore has shown skill in the early workouts, both running and receiving the football, but tonight the Carolina defense took it upon itself to give Lattimore a taste of what's to come in SEC football. After several jarring hits, the young runner had at least a hint of what an SEC defense is capable of.
"Yeah Marcus went running up there, sort of slowed down, DJ (Swearinger) sort of just came by and gave him a little forearm and caught him off balance really, it wasn't that hard of a hit," said Spurrier. "It flattened him, he wasn't ready for it. But he'll be ready next time I'm sure."
Competition has been stiff even in the early going, with Brian Maddox, Kenny Miles, and Jarvis Giles all returning and fighting to be a major part of the running game this year. With the addition of Lattimore, that has just made competition even tougher, but Spurrier continued to be complimentary of all his backs.
"Brian Maddox had some beautiful runs tonight, he and Marcus," said Spurrier. "Jarvis had a few here and there, but Maddox had maybe the (best) runs. And then Marcus had his usual two or three good ones two. And the line blocked better tonight, so that was encouraging."
Once again Spurrier ended on a positive note, speaking on all the positives that the Gamecock program has experienced lately, including a lack of off the field problems that have plagued so many other teams. But, he said that the team still needed to experience more positives on the field, which starts with competing at the highest level and winning a lot of games in the SEC.
"We've done everything right around here lately except win a whole bunch of games and compete for the SEC Championship and that's what we want to do," said Spurrier. "With the facilities we have in place now, we should be competing and getting up there in the hunt, so we'll try our best to do that this year."