After two sub-par efforts in the first two scrimmages, Stephen Garcia did exactly what the coaches wanted to see in this week’s scrimmage. He went 14-16 with no picks, went through all his progressions, and ran effectively when he had to.
Spurrier is doing all he can to get Garcia out of the limelight—and for good reason. Garcia has a ton of pressure on his shoulders, and until he produces in game-time action, the non-stop interviews and photo shoots should stay on the back burner.
The most encouraging part of the scrimmages has been the increase of big plays, both on the ground and through the air.
Speaking of big play ability, Bryce Sherman has a real shot at becoming the kick/punt return man. A lot of Carolina fans are looking at Sherman’s gaudy scrimmage numbers as a running back but forget what defense is on the field during those big plays.
No doubt Sherman is a luxury to have, but make no mistake: Brian Maddox, Jarvis Giles, and Kenny Miles will be getting the reps at running back this year. In what order, however, is anybody’s guess.
Expect new offensive line coach Eric Wolford to make his case for who gets the carries. Wolford might be the best upgrade of any of the new coaches, and his impact is being felt by the entire offense.
Not only has he upped the competition for starting spots on the line, he has barked orders to everybody from the hogs up front to Jarvis Giles to Jason Barnes and even to Garcia.
Wolford has widened the running lanes, has pushed for more single back formations, is working closely with new running backs coach Jay Graham, and has even stepped on the Head Ball Coach’s toes at times. His energy is exactly what a stagnant offense needed.
As for the wide receivers, that is a constant revolving door.
Moe Brown is a starter but isn’t likely to break any records or haul in a monster game. Tori Gurley’s emergence this spring has been a nice surprise, but the fact that he has overtaken Jason Barnes—the guy most Carolina fans believe to have the most talent—is concerning. Barnes has too many physical tools to be on the bench.
Dion LeCorn’s spring game injury is still holding him from going full speed, so his role this fall is still up in the air. DL Moore and Stephen Flint are two other receivers looking to contribute as well.
Joe Hills came in with big expectations, but the fact is, freshmen were performing better—and it’s about time. Carolina has all but struck out with big time receivers in recent years, and now it looks like they finally have some young talent who will be around for a long time.
So while Hill’s pending transfer doesn’t hurt the team offensively, it would have been great if Hills and his physically freakish body would have accepted a switch to the defensive side of the ball, where depth is an issue.
With Hills now gone, look for freshmen Alshon Jeffery, the big target every school wanted, and the surprise of camp, DeMario Bennett, a three-star recruit from Georgia who is known for excellent routes and the most country accent on the team, to see time on the field immediately. DeAngelo Smith has also looked good but will likely get caught in a numbers crunch.
At tight end, it’s Weslye Saunders’s job. He is trimmed down, focused, and ready for a good season. Saunders won’t break the long play like Jared Cook could, but his blocking and possession catches should be an upgrade.
Carolina is scheduled to have another scrimmage today at 11 AM. With the season opener now less than two weeks away, look for Spurrier to start naming starters very soon.