It was a good day for all of the USC running backs, yet Brian Maddox managed to separate from the pack.
Maddox led all rushers with 55 yards on nine carries and scored two of the three touchdowns during the regulation portion of the scrimmage Saturday.
Afterward, Steve Spurrier said Maddox would be the starter if the season began today and conceded that the Gamecocks probably should have played Maddox more last season.
Maddox had a great offseason in the weight room and it’s paying dividends for him this spring. He’s running as hard and tough as any time during his college career – “breaking tackles,” running backs coach Jay Graham pointed out.
But really, it was a pretty solid showing by the entire offense, save for a few penalties and what Spurrier called “dumb (butt)” plays – except Spurrier used a different word that my editors won’t publish, even in the blogosphere.
The tailback quartet of Maddox, Jarvis Giles, Eric Baker and Kenny Miles combined for 188 yards on 33 attempts – an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Now granted, LBs Eric Norwood and Rodney Paulk didn’t play much, but there were a lot of other first-teamers out there for the defense, which did not have its best day tackling.
Ellis Johnson, asst. head coach for defense, was just saying Friday that he’d like his guys to hit more, but the NCAA limits the number of full-contact practices during the spring.
Saturday, Johnson was asked what he could do to improve the tackling.
His response: “Nothing you can do, except pray. We couldn’t tackle Charlie and Eli (his young sons) right now, and I think y’all know who they are.”
QB Stephen Garcia overthrew a couple of receivers downfield, but otherwise looked good. He made a strong throw to Moe Brown (four catches for 95 yards and two scores) on a play-action play in which Garcia rolled out left, stopped and threw back to Brown streaking wide open down the middle of the field.
A couple of other observations:
–Backup LB Shaq Wilson had a nice, one-armed tackle on a dump-off pass to Maddox.
–WR Tori Gurley, after a strong scrimmage last week, had a quiet day. But he did manage to get the coaches riled up when he attempted to plead his case to the refs after he was whistled for an illegal shift.
–CB Brandan Davis, the walk-on and former WR, continues to make plays and make a case for playing time in USC’s nickel and dime packages.
–The kicking game was a little shaky. Spencer Lanning missed a 53-yard field goal try badly, then had a second attempt at the same distance blocked by Gerrod Sinclair. Lanning did later connect on a 47-yarder.
Here are the numbers:
Passing—Garcia 14–23-0 191 3TD, McCollum 4-13-0 42, Brindise 1-3-0 25 1TD, LeCorn 1-1 11. Rushing—Maddox 9-55 1TD, Garcia 3-6 1 TD, Baker 8-45, Giles 9-52 1TD, DiMarco 7-24; Miles 7-36, McCollum 4-minus-15, Brindise 4-minus-29, Hillary 1-7. Receiving—Barnes 4-29, Gurley 2-16, LeCorn 1-11, Saunders 2-29, Maddox 2-32 1TD, Hills 1-7, M. Brown 4-95 2TD, DiMarco 1-5, Triglia 1-11, Baker 1-9, Moore 1-25 1TD.