The Daily Gamecock

Offense dominates in annual spring game

Sophomore Mike Davis named starting running back heading into summer

Coming into the spring, running back Mike Davis was competing with Brandon Wilds for the starting job. In the annual Garnet and Black spring game, Davis racked up 40 yards and one touchdown on just two carries to help lead the Black team to a 44-30 victory over the Garnet.

With that performance, on top of an impressive spring where he was named the most improved running back, Davis is now the starter heading into the summer.

“I just wanted to come out and try to separate myself from other people so I could get the starting job,” Davis said.

However, Davis knows that things can change from now until August, especially with the arrival of four-star tailback David Williams in the summer.

Coach Steve Spurrier said that Davis came into the spring as “a different person” as a result of more work in USC’s strength and conditioning program. Davis, who is the younger brother of former-Clemson star tailback James Davis, said that he gained 10 pounds over the offseason and became faster and stronger.

However, Davis and the rest of the Black team did not get off to a good start on Saturday. In the first series of the game, Black team quarterback Dylan Thompson was intercepted by redshirt freshman Chaz Elder, who returned the pick 44 yards to the Black 41.

Four plays later, Garnet quarterback Brendan Nosovitch found tight end Jerell Adams on a seam route over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown that gave the Garnet an early 7-0 lead.

Nosovitch, a redshirt freshman who was named the most improved quarterback of the spring, completed 11 of his 15 passes for 146 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Meanwhile, Adams, along with junior tight end Rory Anderson, led all players with 87 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Anderson was also named the most improved tight end of the spring.

Spurrier said that Anderson and Adams are “two of the best tight ends around.”

“Both of them are tough, they don’t shy away from the ball [and] they block,” Spurrier said. “They’ve really improved their blocking this spring.”

Thompson quickly redeemed himself by leading the Black team down the field on its next possession. The drive culminated when the redshirt junior found sophomore wide receiver Shaq Roland for a seven-yard touchdown that tied the game at seven.

Despite the interception, Spurrier said that Thompson threw the ball very well during the spring.

“I feel like what I wanted to work on, I did a good job of,” Thompson said. “I feel like a got a lot better this spring, I wanted my feet to get quicker. Now going into the summer, the thing will be to keep that work ethic going and improve on my weaknesses.”

After a Garnet field goal made it 10-7, the Black team struck again. Thompson hooked up with receiver Nick Jones for a 36-yard completion that set up Davis’ touchdown run. The sophomore plowed through the middle of the Garnet defense for a 25-yard touchdown run that gave the Black team a 14-10 lead.

The Black team maintained their lead until Nosovitch found reserve tight end Jeff Homad for a 12-yard touchdown that gave the Garnet a short-lived 30-27 lead with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.

A little over four minutes later, Kendric Salley ran it in from five yards out to give the Black team a 34-30 lead that they would not relinquish. Salley led all tailbacks with 12 carries for 47 yards to go along with his touchdown.

The Black team ended the game with 17 unanswered points to seal the win.

The two teams combined for 684 yards of offense.

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said the spring game is all about having fun, but he hopes Saturday’s shootout is a rare occurrence.

“Me as a defensive coordinator, I hate points on the board,” Ward said. “Hopefully you saw as many points on that board out there today as you’re going to see all season. But it’s fun.”

Thompson said it was fun to get out there and throw the ball around and put on a show for the 35,218 fans in attendance.

“We had a lot of fans out and that was great,” Thompson said. “We all feel like we have the best fans in the country. It is a lot of fun, just playing for [Spurrier] in general. That’s what he wants, to see the ball down the field.”