Shrine Bowl Practice Notebook

ROEBUCK, S.C. -- The first day of practice began installation of offenses and defenses, a quick glimpse into the potential starting teams, and even some interesting recruiting gossip from the Shrine Bowl.

Day 2 Stories:
Dominating D: North Carolina's defense, especially the defensive backs and linebackers, look poised to dominate the game Saturday.

As per Shrine Bowl rules, the '50' defense must be employed. The '50' defense uses five defensive linemen with three down (two tackles and one nose guard), and two standing up in a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end like position. Two linebackers line up in the middle gaps, while two cornerbacks and two safeties fill out the secondary.

The starting linebackers, not surprisingly, appear to be Brandon Spikes and Matt Woodlief. Converted safety/wide out Deunta Williams along with Drew Adams received the most significant practice time at the unfamiliar outside linebacker position.

The starting secondary look to be made up of Raeshon McNeil and Antoinne McNeil at the cornerback spots, and Alex Frye and Rico Bell at safety.

Aleric Mullins and Morgan Randall were fixtures at defensive tackle positions, while Richardo Crawford and Adrian Williams rotated at nose guard.
Early Start: Thanks to a little extra work on Sunday, the South Carolina high-flying offense

Armanti Edwards
is getting better each practice. Quarterbacks Armanti Edwards from Greenwood and Stanley Doolittle from Ninety-Six, who is expected to be the starter, showed quite a bit of improvement from the first practice to the second.

"I think I have a grasp on the offense, but the team as a whole not really. That is something you have to get used, the speed, but concept and what we want to do, I've got that," Doolittle said, adding that he run much of this offense throughout the season. "A good majority. (Offensive coordinator Bobby) Bentley's (offense) is more vertical and downfield than what we do, but as far as quick stuff and runs, we have our stuff done."

The offense could shift a little when the right-handed Doolittle and Armanti Edwards, a southpaw, enter the game. However the concepts and deep playbook will not change.

"He said we are going to get into twenty formations," Edwards said.

Grind It Out: South Carolina expects the North Carolina squad to simply grind the game out with three star running backs in Norman Whitley,

Ricky Sapp
Josh Adams, and Johnny White. Ricky Sapp says he is ready for the challenge. "I think they are just going to line up and run the ball right at us and pound, pound, pound it right at us."

With a unique lineup for the South Carolina players, several former defensive ends are now standing up and sometimes even dropping into coverage, including Sapp, Dekoda Watson, and Jayson Ayers.

"It is different, I had my hand on the ground all year, but I am getting back used to it," Ayers says, adding that he played linebacker until this season for Marlboro County.

Five Layers of Protection: It's definitely too early to predict which five offensive linemen will start on Saturday, but Coach D'Angelo Bell, who heads up the hogmallies, featured two distinct units Monday during practice. The first group included Carl Johnson (RT), Alex Spisak (RG), Antwan Lyons (C), Pierre Andrews (LG), and Hutch Eckerson (LT), while the second group contained Thurman McDonald (RT), Scott Gunn (RG), Alex Spisak (C), Pierre Andrews (LG), and Chris Hairston (LT).

Special Teams: As expected Nathan Franklin will handle kicking and punting duties for North Carolina. Long snapping to Franklin on punts is Morgan Randall, and Alex Spisak will be the snapper for kicks while Kendric Burney holds. A handful of athletes were auditioning for returning duties.

Richard Jackson
For South Carolina, Richard Jackson continued to boom the ball as he had all year long with many high-hanging floaters in the punting game. Matt Quinn is the deep snapper for South Carolina while slot receiver D.J. Parker and versatile Prince Miller are expected to be the return men.

Injury Report: Before practice even opened up, the injury bug hit two players on North Carolina's roster. White, who has been dealing with a high ankle sprain the past three weeks, was hobbling all day long and saw little practice time. Tavorris Jolly's injury didn't even allow him to make it to Spartanburg and was replaced by fellow UNC pledge Kendric Burney. ... White Knoll defensive lineman David Williams sat out much of the second practice after having his bell rung by a big collision.
Recruiting Nuggets:
  • South Carolina is starting to make a push on many of the uncommitted players in the game, including one new, though old, offer. The Gamecocks offered Independence (N.C.) offensive lineman Perre Andrews during the season and have a visit set for the 14th of January.

  • Brandon Spikes' visit to Florida went quite well, in fact the Shelby, N.C. native said he made big friends with a current Gator and spoke of how "he will be keeping them off of me."

  • Adam Patterson received a message from Rick Stockstill that he had accepted the head coaching position at Middle Tennessee and he would not be recruiting Patterson for South Carolina. Patterson says that the move could have an effect on his decision and he will be interested to see what happens when he visits the Gamecocks.

  • Three players from each team represented their state in the Carolina Panthers matchup with Tampa Bay on Sunday. For North Carolina was Aycock defensive back Cortez Gilbert, Lumberton offensive lineman Hutch Eckerson, and Southern Durham quarterback Kevin Atkins. South Carolina sent West Ashley wide receiver Keith Graham, Rock Hill linebacker Donkay Degraffenreid, and Greenwood offensive lineman Chandler Reardon.

  • Alex Frye, a safety out of Jack Britt in Fayetteville, North Carolina, has been able to narrow down his list of schools to just a manageable number of three, with the finalists

    Kendric Burney
    including a new offer from South Carolina, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Frye plans to visit all three schools before deciding.

  • Kendric Burney spoke to the coaches from North Carolina last night and was informed that he will get a strong look at wide out due to the departure of Mike Mason.

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