Not going to try to do any in-depth scrimmage analysis here, since South Carolina’s players already had their shoulder pads off and were finishing their conditioning by the time the media was allowed into Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday.
But one stat jumped out from Steve Spurrier’s post-scrimmage debriefing:
Starting quarterback Stephen Garcia was sacked “about five times” in the 14-15 plays in which he dropped back to pass.
We don’t know whether Garcia played with the first-team offensive line the entire scrimmage, but it’s probably safe to assume he spent the bulk of his time with that unit. For the most part, it’s the same line Garcia played behind last season when he was sacked 37 times – an alarming number that tied LSU for most allowed in the SEC.
Now, to be fair, it should be pointed out that the Gamecocks’ offense was playing against a pretty good defense, one that has finished in the top 15 nationally in total defense each of the past two years.
But defensive chief Ellis Johnson didn’t sound all that impressed with his D on a hot day when the play on both sides of the ball was described as “sloppy” by both Johnson and Spurrier.
Garcia was 3-for-8 passing for 76 yards and a TD. His “rushing” numbers were six attempts for minus-23 yards. So if Spurrier’s math was right – the stats provided by the sports information department did not include sacks – that means Garcia ran for positive yardage just once.
When they weren’t on their backs, the quarterback trio combined to complete 22 of 33 passes for 325 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. But they were on their backs a lot.
Spurrier said backup QBs Connor Shaw and Andrew Clifford also were sacked “once or twice.”
After all the talk this week about the unproven depth on the offensive line, maybe the media was missing the more pressing question: Forget the backups, is the starting line going to be any better than the last couple of years?
That can’t be answered after just one scrimmage. The Gamecocks have two weeks to straighten things out before Southern Miss arrives.
But the abundance of what Spurrier calls “backward plays” in the first full scrimmage was not how the USC offense wanted to start.