Steve Spurrier walked out of South Carolina’s first full scrimmage Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium feeling like he had seen much of this before.
Both he and assistant head coach Ellis Johnson called the scrimmage “sloppy.” The backward plays, sacks and inconsistent play Spurrier has referenced many times since the Papajohns.com Bowl debacle against Connecticut was the talk of the session.
“We had one of our typical scrimmages,” Spurrier said. “We scored a few touchdowns here and there but it was sloppy play — jumping offside, don’t snap the ball at the right time, pass protection was not very good. Defense did OK but neither side was very good to tell you the truth. Neither side did anything spectacular.”
Even though Spurrier said neither side did anything to stand out, he was especially critical of mistakes that caused the Gamecocks to finish last in rushing and tied for most sacks allowed in the SEC. There were several missed assignments and the offense had one touchdown called back because a receiver lined up off the line in an unbalanced situation.
“We had all of our backward plays again, which just kills drives,” Spurrier said.
The offense did mount four 70-yard drives for touchdowns, which caused Johnson to question the toughness of his unit on a day the temperatures reached the mid-90s. Johnson watched from the press box, since the coaches wanted to try being on the headsets for the first time this camp.
“The thing that is very disappointing to me is we’re very soft,” Johnson said. “The tackling wasn’t good. I know it was hot, I know they’re tired but you want to see some guys step up that are hungry for a job or somebody step up with a little leadership. To me, it just looked real soft.”
Johnson said he thought the defensive effort would have been better at the the halfway point of fall camp before facing Southern Miss on Sept. 2.
“I didn’t think the effort from the first rep to the last rep was very good,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see anything that was very impressive.”
All three quarterbacks had touchdown passes. Andrew Clifford connected with DeAngelo Smith on a 15-yard scoring strike. Connor Shaw hit Ace Sanders for a 4-yard touchdown and Stephen Garcia had a 33-yard TD pass to DeMario Bennett.
Bryce Sherman scored the other touchdown on a 9-yard run. He was the leading rusher with 16 yards on four carries.
But Garcia was sacked five times and Clifford and Shaw each took sacks. Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott kept the linemen late to run sprints for the poor play.
“Coach Elliott is not happy with his guys,” Spurrier said. “He’ll keep them out here until maybe one or two of them quit that don’t want to get with the program. He’s keeping them moving. All we ask is play your assignment with effort. That’s all we’ve ever ask around here, but we’ve had a tough time getting it out of guys.”
Shaw, who was 12-for-14 for 150 yards, thought the play was decent but did agree that the quarterbacks needed to a better job of getting rid of the ball.
“Coach Spurrier harps on us to get the ball out of our hands, and that is something every QB needs to work on,” Shaw said.
-- DeAngelo Smith 15-yard pass from Andrew Clifford (Spencer Lanning kick)
-- Bryce Sherman 9-yard run (Adam Yates kick)
-- Ace Sanders 4-yard pass from Connor Shaw (Jay Wooten kick)
-- DeMario Bennett 31-yard pass from Stephen Garcia (Joey Scribner-Howard kick)
-- Spencer Lanning 20-yard field goal
PASSING: Connor Shaw 12-14-0-150; Andrew Clifford 7-11-0-99; Stephen Garcia 3-8-0-76. TOTALS: 22-33-0-325.
RUSHING: Bryce Sherman 4-16; Jarvis Giles 10-15; Marcus Lattimore 4-15; Connor Shaw 3-11; Ace Sanders 1-10; Brian Maddox 2-2; Jacob Baker 4-0; Andrew Clifford 3-(-11); Stephen Garcia 6-(-23). TOTALS: 37-35.
RECEIVING: Lamar Scruggs 3-73; DeMario Bennett 3-66; Ace Sanders 3-33; DeAngelo Smith 2-30; Mike Triglia 2-15; Bryce Sherman 2-11; Jason Barnes 1-33; Jacob Baker 1-18; Cedrick Snead 1-17; Marcus Lattimore 1-12; Matt Coffee 1-9; Jarvis Giles 1-7; Nick Jones 1-1. TOTALS: 22-325.
Ellis Johnson, DeVonte Holloman, Connor Shaw and Lamar Scruggs speak with the media following Saturday's scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium.