South Carolina Quarterbacks Improved After Awful Spring Performances

James Gray IICorrespondent IAugust 12, 2008

Back in April, Gamecock fans witnessed the most pathetic passing performances in a spring game ever.  Quarterbacks Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley combined for eight interceptions: Beecher was responsible for three, while Smelley recorded the other five.

From then on, analysts questioned the Gamecocks' upcoming season due to their QBs' less than stellar performances.

Beecher has since moved into the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, and Steve Spurrier seems confident with his decision.  He told reporters on Friday, "Tommy Beecher is still our quarterback.  He does a lot of good things but can get better though.  He's getting a lot of practice and that's what we need.  We need a lot of snaps before the real games with a lot of our players."  

In Saturday's scrimmage, things went a whole lot better for Beecher and Smelley.  Neither quarterback threw an interception, and five touchdowns and one field goal were put up by the offense in the first full scrimmage of the fall camp. 

The Ol' Ball Coach was pleased by the progress but not fully satisfied, saying, "We had one of our typical scrimmages, except we had a few touchdowns, which was different.  The defense had a lot of good plays here and there but they have got to get better, our offense has to get better, our special teams have to get better.  We all have to get better."

Spurrier is showing a different approach: He gave much more praise last spring, but after last season's collapse, don't expect much until it is proven in a real game.

Beecher finished the day completing nine of his 13 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  Beecher's first score came on a 16-yard pass to sophomore tight end Wesley Saunders on his first drive of the scrimmage, where he was 3-of-4 for 46 yards.  His second score was also to Wesley Saunders on a 12-yard pass.  

Smelley ended the day completing nine of 18 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.  Smelley's first touchdown was a 10-yard pass to redshirt freshman Jason Barnes, and his second score was to sophomore Joe Hills for a 13-yard touchdown. 

Even Stephen Garcia got into the action, throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior Bobby Wallace.  He was the only quarterback to throw a pick, made by preseason All-American Captain Munnerlyn.  Garcia ended the day completing six of eight passes for 67 yards and rushed for 21 yards on three runs. 

Overall, this time around the quarterbacks looked much improved.  But when the season hits, don't be surprised if you see both Beecher and Smelley—and yes, Garcia too—get some playing time this year.