COLUMBIA, S.C. (August 22, 2015) – The offense scored six times, including five rushing touchdowns, and moved the ball more effectively overall than they did a week ago, as the South Carolina football team held its second scrimmage of the preseason camp on a muggy Saturday morning in Columbia.
“The offense did a lot better today,” noted head coach Steve Spurrier. “We had the ball moving a bit. We had a lot of careless plays, some fumbles and the wide receivers dropped a couple, so we’re still pretty careless out here, but it was encouraging. The offense did a lot of good things. Overall, it was very encouraging that the offense was able to move the ball. I think it was a combination of (the line getting better) and the skill guys did better. When you throw on first down, you need to throw a completion. We did that a lot.”
Nothing was decided in the on-going quarterback battle, as statistically, little separated the trio of sophomore Connor Mitch, junior Perry Orth and redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia. Mitch, who was the first quarterback to take a snap, completed 5-of-10 passes for 71 yards, but was picked off twice, first by senior safety Isaiah Johnson, then by junior linebacker T.J. Holloman. Orth also went 5-for-10 for 56 yards, while Scarnecchia completed six of his 10 attempts for 58 yards. True freshman Lorenzo Nunez connected on all three of his pass attempts for 44 yards.
“The quarterbacks did a lot of good things,” said the Head Ball Coach. “I wish one of them outplayed all the rest, but when you look at the stats, they’re probably pretty similar. Hopefully we’ll find out something early this week.” When pressed about naming a starter, Coach Spurrier responded, “Nothing keeps happening. When you look at the stats, they’re all about the same right now. It would be easy for all of us to say ‘this is the guy,’ let’s go. But then you’ve got to be fair and keep competing. We’ll know something maybe by the middle of this coming week.”
The Gamecocks were much more productive on the ground this week, with the tandem of Brandon Wilds and David Williams getting the bulk of the carries. Wilds paced the team with 86 yards on four carries, including a 70-yard burst up the middle for a touchdown. Williams toted the pigskin nine times for 48 yards, including a 1-yard TD run. Mitch, Shon Carson, and A.J. Turner also had short scoring runs during the scrimmage.
“Brandon popped a 70-yarder and nobody could catch him, so that was a good looking play,” said Coach Spurrier. “When we get Brandon out there, he doesn’t get caught from behind very often.”
Seniors wide receivers Carlton Heard (4-for-33) and Shamier Jeffery (3-for-39) and freshman tight end Hayden Hurst (2-for-53) were the top pass catchers on the day.
“We didn’t play with as much passion as we had the other scrimmage. That was disappointing,” said co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke of his unit. “There were some good things that we did do, but I think the overshadowing part is we just didn’t have the passion that we’ve had through camp.
The defensive line did not get the same consistent pressure on the quarterbacks that they did a week ago. “It’s always going to be about rush and cover,” continued Hoke. “We do it together, and I don’t think both parts played as hard as they had been playing or played with as much passion as they had been.”
Kelsey Griffin (arm) and David Johnson (knee) suffered injuries during the scrimmage. “Hopefully both of those guys will be ok,” said Coach Spurrier. Those who did not participate in Saturday’s scrimmage included safety Antoine Wilder (right knee sprain), tight end Connor Redmond (back), kicker Joseph Charlton (back) and quarterback Gage Pucci (knee).
Brandon Wilds 70-yard run
Elliott Fry 52-yard field goal
David Williams 1-yard run
Connor Mitch 4-yard run
Shon Carson 2-yard run (Landon Ard PAT)
A.J. Turner 1-yard run (Fry PAT)
Connor Mitch 5-10-2-71; Michael Scarnecchia 6-10-0-58; Perry Orth 5-10-0-56; Lorenzo Nunez 3-3-0-44. TOTALS: 19-33-2-229.
Brandon Wilds 4-86, 1 TD; David Williams 9-48, 1 TD; Darius Paulk 2-9; Shon Carson 3-7, 1 TD; Mon Denson 2-4; Devin Potter 1-2; Connor Mitch 3-1, 1 TD; A.J. Turner 1-1, 1 TD, Lorenzo Nunez 3-(-1). TOTALS: 28-157, 5 TD.
Carlton Heard 4-33; Shamier Jeffery 3-39; Hayden Hurst 2-53; Jacob August 2-18; David Williams 2-6; Jalen Christian 1-25; Christian Owens 1-17; Jerad Washington 1-16; Deebo Samuel 1-15; Matrick Belton 1-13; Cody Waldrop 1-(-6). TOTALS: 19-229.