The Daily Gamecock

Defense takes over in Saturday scrimmage

Young quarterbacks work on improving their game

In the 11th practice of the spring football season Saturday, the Gamecocks scrimmaged during the latter half of their two-hour session at Williams-Brice Stadium. The results were not as good as coach Steve Spurrier would have liked.

“It was a pretty sloppy scrimmage overall,” Spurrier said. “Some guys did pretty well, and some guys weren’t very good. It was most of the younger players going at it. I think the defensive guys were in position and played pretty well. The quarterbacks were sporadic, and the receivers dropped a few here and there. Overall, the protection probably wasn’t very good either.”

Three scoring plays were made out of the 41 plays that were run during the course of the scrimmage. Redshirt sophomore kicker Landon Ard started it off with a 45-yard field goal.

Redshirt sophomore Brandon Wilds followed with a 9-yard touchdown run, and later on, redshirt freshman Kwinton Smith, who is back from a stint with the USC baseball team, caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from another redshirt freshman, Perry Orth.

Running back Mike Davis was a bright spot, as the sophomore carried the ball four times for 54 yards. On the first play from scrimmage, Davis gashed the defense for a 29-yard gain, hurdling starting redshirt junior cornerback Victor Hampton before getting tackled.

Wilds, who is Davis’ competition for the starting spot, had 20 yards on four carries to go along with his touchdown.

Spurrier did not indicate who would be the starter at running back but said both of them would get a lot of time, always coming in and out. But Spurrier did mention he was impressed with Davis’ performance.

“I would have told our play caller to give him the ball more if we were trying to score, but our play callers didn’t give it to him very much,” Spurrier said. “He was quick, hitting the holes and following his blocking very well.”

The scrimmage consisted of several dropped balls by receivers, as well as a few fumbled snaps by the quarterbacks.

Along with Orth, freshman Connor Mitch and redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch had several reps in the scrimmage. Spurrier acknowledged that the mistakes with snaps come with inexperience.

“Connor should not be ready yet. He’s just a high school kid right now, but he’s got plenty of time to get ready,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, Brendan will come around a little bit better next week and have a good summer to get ready to be the third guy.”

Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus has been working with the young guys to stop staring down receivers on short passes to the running back or tight end.

Mangus wants his quarterbacks to wait until the last second to throw it so that a linebacker does not level the receiver. Mitch and Nosovitch both said continued reps will help them move forward.

“You just got to keep practicing it, and in time, I guess you’ll figure out how to do it and get to Coach’s standards,” Mitch said.
“It’s really just about repetition,” Nosovitch said. “You know, just keep working after practice and before practice.”

Mitch and Nosovitch both said the game has slowed down for them during the spring.

“I know the plays a lot better than I did in the fall,” Nosovitch said. “Everything’s just coming a lot easier for me.”

“The first couple practices, it was my first time out there, so everything was going a thousand miles per hour,” Mitch said. “But now, it’s slowed down a lot.”

The second starting receiver spot is up for grabs, and Smith helped his cause for it with his play. He said the competition can be a little nerve-racking, but it is also good for the team.

“You know someone’s trying to get the spot behind you, so you have to bring the intensity every day,” Smith said. “It’s making us better because we’re all working hard right now and each guy is pushing each other.”

Notable players who did not scrimmage include senior quarterback Connor Shaw, who is still rehabbing a foot injury. He is not scheduled to start practicing until June.

Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney also did not practice after tweaking his neck when he collided with redshirt junior defensive tackler J.T. Surratt in a drill during practice Friday. Surratt injured his ribs in the collision and did not participate on Saturday either. Both injuries are not considered serious, and the rest was just precautionary.

The Gamecocks are scheduled to practice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s annual Garnet & Black Spring Game.