If Jadeveon Clowney and company can make life as tough on opponents this season as they did on their teammates Saturday, Lorenzo Ward will be delighted.
“We have some pass rushers here,” the Gamecocks defensive coordinator said after his defensive line manhandled the South Carolina offense throughout a two-hour scrimmage. “Everybody thinks it’s just Jadeveon, but we have some other guys who can get to the quarterback. Hopefully, we can do it during the season.”
Meanwhile, coach Steve Spurrier left Williams-Brice Stadium hoping to avoid a repeat of Saturday when the real games begin.
“Our pass protection stinks right now,” Spurrier said. “We can’t hardly get a ball off. We didn’t even try to block Clowney today. I don’t think at any time was he blocked. We act like we are afraid to block him, I don’t know. Hopefully, he’s that good, but I’ve seen other people block him. He doesn’t get to the quarterback every play like he did today just about.”
Clowney and the first-team defensive line played the first two series of the scrimmage, and Clowney disrupted more than half the plays, including registering a sack while being double-teamed and held. Starting offensive tackle Corey Robinson, who was charged with blocking Clowney, was replaced with redshirt freshman Mason Zandi midway through the scrimmage.
“We will just keep coaching, just try to find guys to compete,” Spurrier said. “Playing the offensive line is for people that like to compete. They just take some pride that they are going to do their job. We have some soft guys, there’s no question about that.”
The assault on the quarterbacks didn’t end when Clowney left the field. In fact, starting quarterback Connor Shaw twice hit his right hand on a helmet after throwing a pass because he was in so much traffic. The second time he bruised his right thumb and was forced to leave the scrimmage.
“Guys didn’t come ready to play,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know if they went out partying last night or not, but some of them weren’t ready to compete. Some of them were pretty sorry today.”
Shaw finished the day 2-for-6 for 25 yards, while backup quarterback Dylan Thompson was 3-for-8 for 47 yards. The offensive highlight of the day was running back Mike Davis’ 53 yards on four carries.
“We need to run the ball more,” Spurrier said. “We’ve never been a great pass-blocking team around here. That’s one reason you have to run more.”
The Gamecocks open the season Aug. 29 against North Carolina at 6 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We have a long way to go, but we have 10 or 11 days to get there,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, we can make some strides between now and a week from Thursday.”
* Jamari Smith and Ronnie Martin each had interceptions during the scrimmage.
* USC’s kickers fared much better than in the first scrimmage. Landon Ard, Nick St. Germain and Elliott Fry were a combined 5-of-6, each trying field goals from 37 and 42 yards. Fry had the day’s only miss, from 37. Spurrier said that the hope is to name a starting place-kicker by the middle of next week, and have him take the lion’s share of the practice reps. Ard was working with the first team on kickoffs and kicked both of the day’s PATs.
* Walk-ons Sidney Rhodes and Connor McLaurin have been placed on scholarship. Rhodes has drawn raves for his special-teams play and McLaurin is slated to start at fullback.
* Devin Washington (concussion) and Kadetrix Marcus (left knee sprain) were added to the injury list.
* Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Shaw (thumb), Washington (concussion), Marcus (left knee sprain), Chaz Sutton (sprained foot), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated elbow), Bruce Ellington (hamstring), Cedrick Cooper (dislocated left elbow), Rory “Busta” Anderson (hamstring), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Cody Gibson (sprained right knee).
* The Gamecocks will practice again at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed to the public.
David Cloninger contributed
David Williams 1-yard run (Landon Ard kick)
Pharoh Cooper 10-yard pass from Brendan Nosovitch (Ard kick)
PASSING: Brendan Nosovitch 5-12-1-82, 1 TD; Dylan Thompson 3-8-0-47; Connor Shaw 2-6-1-25; Perry Orth 4-7-0-23; Connor Mitch 2-4-0-3. TOTALS: 16-37-2-180, 1 TD.
RUSHING: Mike Davis 4-53; Brandon Wilds 3-20; David Williams 5-12, 1 TD; Shon Carson 3-11; Jody Fuller 1-8; Connor Shaw 2-1; Brendan Nosovitch 1-0; Connor Mitch 1-(-5); Dylan Thompson 2-(-8); Perry Orth 2-(-8). 24-84, 1 TD.
RECEIVING: Jody Fuller 5-49; Pharoh Cooper 2-45, 1 TD; Jordan Diaz 2-3; Kwinton Smith 1-22; Shamier Jeffery 1-21; Damiere Byrd 1-21; Jerell Adams 1-12; Connor McLaurin 1-5; Kelvin Rainey 1-3; Shon Carson 1-(-1). 16-180, 1 TD.