In South Carolina football’s second scrimmage of the spring and final one before the Garnet and Black game, it was the defense that stole the show, according to Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer.
Beamer said the defense forced three turnovers (an interception and two fumbles) in the first 24 plays Saturday and made it tough for the USC offense to throw the ball downfield for much of the day.
The Gamecocks are now a week out from the annual spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium, when Beamer will make his first appearance on the sidelines in front of fans. When that happens, he wants his players, particularly his offense, to look a little crisper.
“Offensively, we can’t do that, turn the ball over. That is how you get beat,” Beamer said. “It was a disappointing start overall. The first team offense against first team defense, we had some pre-snap penalties on offense and defense. Those are the things that get you beat and we gotta get that cleaned up.”
Sophomore Luke Doty once again handled most of the first-team reps at quarterback, just like he has the entire spring, according to Beamer. The team also did some 7-on-7 passing skill work before the scrimmage began.
Beamer said he has been pleased with Doty during the spring but thought the offense wasn’t able to push the ball down the field like he wanted on Saturday.
“Not nearly enough explosive plays in my opinion,” Beamer said. “Give credit to the defense for that. It isn’t just quarterback and receivers. We got to protect. We got some pretty dang good pass rushers on the defensive line that is making our offensive line better. But we got to protect and execute.”
The Gamecocks ranked near the bottom of the country in explosive plays last year, something Beamer isn’t used to coming from a high-powered Oklahoma offense. He knows that has to change this season, though, and said it has been a point of emphasis this spring. And that won’t change as they start practice in the fall.
“We got to continue to work at it and get comfortable with those receivers and things like that,” Beamer said. “And we will continue to call them when the situation allows for sure.”
Other notes from Saturday’s scrimmage
▪ Linebackers Mo Kaba and Sharrod Greene and receiver OrTre Smith didn’t scrimmage on Saturday, but Beamer said injuries don’t appear to be serious. Jaylin Dickerson did some work in practice this week after missing time this spring with an injury.
▪ With Greene and Kaba out, Beamer said Brad Johnson made the most of his chance with extra reps and singled out his play as well as freshman Debo Williams, who has been one of the most talked about players during the spring.
▪ Beamer was pleased with running backs Zaquandre White and Kevin Harris. He also said Rashad Amos got work in some goal-line situations
▪ Former Gamecock and NFL veteran Alshon Jeffery attended the scrimmage and also was at the practice facility earlier this week. Jeffery was released by the Eagles this spring and is looking for a new team.