South Carolina Gamecocks: 7 Observations from Saturday's Scrimmage
The Gamecocks are looking to have a tremendous season... and it all starts with the first scrimmage leading up to the actual depth chart rankings.
However, the scrimmage actually revealed some serious issues, including some that have tapered my excitement a little.
There were some great surprises as well, and some players who seriously stepped up into the spotlight and may have given the coaches some food for thought as they create the initial practice depth chart.
Here are seven observations from the scrimmage... some good, some bad.
Either way, it is great to be a Gamecock.
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1. The Secondary Looks Bad
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Injuries and suspensions have absolutely crippled this group. With Brison Williams breaking his arm and basically ending his season, DeVonte Holloman missing the first few games of the season due to suspension, and Victor Hampton missing games for the same reason, depth is a major issue.
The unit was bad last year, and it didn't look any better this year, allowing the Gamecock offense to move at will. The optimist in me says that it just means the offense is just that good...
However, if they can't fix the defensive secondary and create a scheme that works for them, they should be more worried about getting past East Carolina and their spread pass-based offense then winning the SEC.
2. There Really May Be a Quarterback Controversy Brewing
Stephen Garcia has the pedigree, experience, and support of the staff.
However, Connor Shaw opened some eyes at the scrimmage, looking incredibly sharp, going 9-11 for 147 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Garcia finished 9-15 for 92 yards and one touchdown, but he took five sacks and held the ball too long.
I wouldn't be suprised if Spurrier lists them 1a. and 1b. on the depth chart entering fall practice.
Connor has made huge gains this summer and spent a great deal of time studying. It may be paying off, as the gifted athlete is now more comfortable in the offense.
3. Freshman Wide Receiver Damiere Byrd Is a Star in the Making
I have written numerous pieces about the insane speed of Damiere Byrd and how impressive he has been so far, but all of those pieces were missing one piece of the puzzle: how does Damiere look in a game-type situation?
Well here is a clue...
He caught three passes for 87 yards. He is making a serious push for the No. 2 spot. Alshon Jeffery and Damiere Byrd could be an incredibly one-two punch as receiver starters.
I will be curious to see what Coach Spurrier does with Byrd.
4. The Defensive Line (and Jadeveon Clowney) Are as Good as Advertised
Jadeveon Clowney is still a work in progress. However, he's an exciting work in progress. He had two sacks in the game, to go along with two offsides penalties.
However, the line as a whole is an incredibly sight to behold. There are about seven players who could be starters on almost any team. They give constant pressure and do well with run support. If it wasn't for a total meltdown of the defensive backs, I would say this could be a great defensive team.
5. Basketball Star Bruce Ellington Finds a Role... as a Wildcat Quarterback
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Call it a hunch, but the drive where Bruce Ellington played quarterback and rushed three times for thirty yards, then handed it off to Eric Baker for a six-yard touchdown is the beginning of a "Wilcock" Renaissance in Columbia.
He looked comfortable, decisive, and fast. This is something that I wouldn't be shocked to see often in the fall.
Bruce also caught three passes for 37 yards, so we may be looking at another offensive weapon. It was an impressive outing for the diminutive basketball player.
6. The Freshmen Running Backs Outshone the Veterans
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I need to preface this by saying that Marcus Lattimore barely played, and didn't take one carry. He had one catch for 11 yards, but he is in great shape and doesn't need a bunch of reps (we don't need a Kniles Davis situation).
However, Shon Carson and Brandon Wilds pimp-slapped veterans Kenny Miles and Eric Baker.
Shon Carson looked to be the best back on the field this day, with nine carries for 56 yards. Brandon Wilds was almost equally as effective, going seven carries for 37 yards. They both averaged over five yards per carry.
As for Baker? He averaged 2.8 yards per carry, and Miles had a horrendous run for minus-five yards, and promptly got removed.
He may be playing his way out of play time.
My guess? Carson has taken over the No. 3 spot, Miles would not be three, Brandon Wilds may have avoided a redshirt, and Eric Baker may not have a roster spot.
7. Offensive Line Depth Is Unsettling
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South Carolina has a better line than usual, but the depth on the line looks a little rocky. There is a good set of starting linemen, but with Brandon Shell being slowed by injuries, and other players looking a bit like a bull fighter (Ole!), the line needs to straighten it up.
Of course, it could have just been that Garcia really was holding the ball too long.