Columbia, SC - Three friends and I invaded the Proving Grounds to steal a look at the 2010 edition of the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday, March 16.
We arrived at the practice field around 7:15 pm at night. We stood near some men listening to the South Carolina-Furman baseball game on the radio in a pickup truck. It was a cold and windy night.
The Gamecock warriors were in helmets, shorts, and shirts for the night's practice. We saw coach Ellis Johnson and the linebackers do some drills with the sled and other defensive equipment.
The Carolina secondary did endless repeats of a drill in which a player from the secondary intercepts a pass and the defense forms a wedge block and returns the ball to the end zone.
The defensive unit was not the highlight of the night, but many Gamecock starters were in yellow jerseys. This spring will allow many young defensive players to earn their reputations as the veterans rest for the upcoming year.
We did not see much of the offensive line during the night. I peered across the practice field to see many offensive lineman jumping over an obstacle in a drill. The O-line will need plenty of practice for the Gamecocks to contend in the SEC East during the upcoming football season.
Stephen Garcia and the offense set the tone for Tuesday's practice by hitting passes to wideouts from all over the field.
After two full seasons with the program, Garcia is starting to become more of a team leader on and off the field. He high-fived and encouraged his teammates throughout the practice.
Freshman Connor Shaw also had threw the ball well in his second practice in Columbia. Shaw admits to being "a little nervous..." in his first outing.
Dungy visits Columbia
Former Colts and Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy visited the Gamecock football team before practice after preaching a Christian-based, motivational sermon to Broad River Correctional complex. Dungy's message to USC included hard work and teamwork.
QB Armis Hillary was reinstated onto the team after a DUI arrest last week as his legal issues clear up.
WR Alshon Jeffery was welcomed back after his suspension for skipping classes.
USC special teams ran the whole field in a kickoff drill on Tuesday as Shane Beamer makes an effort to improve the special teams. Last year Carolina allowed three kickoffs to be returned for touchdowns.
Cut the Sacks
Steve Spurrier and offensive coordinator G.A Mangus are looking for Gacrcia and the O-line to cut down on the 37 sacks allowed last year. Mangus texted Garcia over spring break.