Moments after South Carolina’s second scrimmage of the spring, head coach Steve Spurrier was looking ahead.
Not to next weekend’s spring game, but past that into the summer months, which is when he believes the ultimate fate of his team will be decided.
“The summer is very important for the guys to work on their fundamentals and what we ask them to try to improve upon,” Spurrier said. “Some work harder than others. You can see it when they report in August if they are fundamentally sound and know what to do. Some guys go bad in the summer, some get a lot better in the summer, so we’ll have to find out.”
As usual, Spurrier is talking mostly about his quarterbacks. Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen spoke Friday night at a dinner for South Carolina’s high school coaches clinic and focused on a topic close to Spurrier’s heart.
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“His one message was all the great teams he had had a great quarterback,” Spurrier said. “I have already sent that message to our players. We have to have a great quarterback around here if we’re going to have a real big year. Hopefully, Stephen (Garcia) will develop into one. Maybe the other guys, who knows.”
Garcia, a senior who is the team’s incumbent starter, had his best outing of the spring Saturday, at least in the first half of the scrimmage work. On the second play, Garcia found running back Kenny Miles streaking down the right sideline for a 72-yard touchdown pass. On the next series, he threw a beautiful 43-yard touchdown pass to Ace Sanders.
However, Garcia, like the rest of the offense, faded down the stretch, and he finished 8-of-13 passing for 170 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. After scoring on four, 70-plus yard drives the first four times it had the ball, the South Carolina offense lost the competitive portion of the scrimmage to the defense to end the workout.
“You notice how the quarterbacks went back and threw the ball early? And then they went back and started flea-farting around as we call it and then nothing good happens,” Spurrier said. “Until we can teach these quarterbacks to get back there and make a decision, we are all going to struggle. Stephen did well early, didn’t do very well late. Stephen actually had a good day yesterday throwing. He just gets in trouble when he can’t get it out of his hand back there. That’s when he gets in bad trouble. Hopefully he will quit doing those things.”
Connor Shaw finished 3-for-4 for 83 yards one touchdown and one interception. Shaw threw a 61-yard scoring pass to DeAngelo Smith. The offense also got touchdowns on an 8-yard run by Josh Hinch and a 4-yard run by Kenny Miles.
The Gamecocks won’t name a starting quarterback this spring, Spurrier said.
“We are not putting them in categories this spring,” he said. “We’re just letting them all play and we will go from there. I really think whoever has the best summer, the guy who can train through the summer could come back the best. We’ll see how that plays out.”
Kenny Miles 72-yard pass from Stephen Garcia (Adam Yates kick)
Ace Sanders 43-yard pass from Garcia (Josh Newton kick)
DeAngelo Smith 61-yard pass from Connor Shaw (Joey Scribner-Howard kick)
Miles 4-yard run (Jay Wooten kick)
Josh Hinch 8-yard run (Yates kick)
PASSING: Stephen Garcia 8-13-1-170, 2 TD; Connor Shaw 3-4-1-83, 1 TD; Andrew Clifford 5-10-0-48; Dylan Thompson 2-6-0-18; Seth Strickland 1-2-0-0. TOTALS: 19-35-2-319, 3 TD.
RUSHING: Marcus Lattimore 1-44; Josh Hinch 7-18, 1 TD; Andrew Clifford 3-16; Kenny Miles 4-13, 1 TD; Stephen Garcia 3-1; Joshua Blue 4-(-4); Connor Shaw 4-(-8). TOTALS: 26-80, 2 TD.
RECEIVING: Lamar Scruggs 4-34; DeAngelo Smith 3-80, 1 TD; Nick Jones 3-33; Kenny Miles 2-76, 1 TD; Ace Sanders 2-53, 1 TD; Jason Barnes 2-12; D.L. Moore 1-17; Marcus Lattimore 1-7; Justice Cunningham 1-7. TOTALS: 19-319, 3 TD.