Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward came away mostly pleased with how his unit performed in Saturday’s scrimmage.
He was particularly happy that the starters held the offense to a field goal attempt after giving up a 40-yard reception by wide receiver D.L. Moore on the first play.
“I thought they responded,” he said. “That’s one thing we’ve been practicing the last three or four days. When teams get in the red zone they’ve got two options. They can turn it over or they’re going to kick a field goal.”
Ward said the team’s tackling could have been better, but he liked some of the hits he saw downfield. He noted one hit delivered by linebacker Reginald Bowens on tight end Rory Anderson to break up a pass.
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"Pass-rushers were very good, as usual," coach Steve Spurrier said.
Senior linebacker Quin Smith recorded an interception on a Dylan Thompson pass for the scrimmage’s only turnover. Smith said he’s looking for more maturity out of this year's defense.
“Some guys need to be more vocal and lead by example,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go. It’s not last year’s team. We have to establish ourselves as a new defense this year and keep up what we started last year.”
Andrew Clifford turned in the best statistical performance among the quarterbacks on Saturday.
There was never a doubt in his mind that he'd be with the Gamecocks this season, despite being told his scholarship might not be renewed.
“I never once thought about leaving," he said. "I knew from the beginning once I signed that I was going to finish here.”
A redshirt junior from Tampa, Fla., Clifford has four career passes. In Saturday's scrimmage he was 6-for-9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Clifford and Seth Strickland are competing for the No. 3 quarterback spot, and Clifford hopes they both continue to push starter Connor Shaw and backup Dylan Thompson.
“Competition makes anyone better," Clifford said. "Hopefully I can be able to do that and make myself better and be ready when my number is called.”
Spurrier said Clifford had the best day of any of the team’s quarterbacks during the scrimmage.
The Gamecocks cancelled a planned Sunday evening workout and will return to the practice fields Monday morning for their 11th preseason practice. Monday’s practice is open to the public, but the workouts are expected to be closed by the end of the week.