Starting quarterback Dylan Thompson was 7-for-7, and walk-on Perry Orth took over sole possession of the No. 2 quarterback role, at least for now, Saturday as South Carolina held its first scrimmage of the spring.
“Dylan was sharp. Dylan knows what he’s doing,” Spurrier said. “Perry has probably moved up to No. 2 right now, and (Brendan Nosovitch) and Connor Mitch are kind of the co-third guy right now.”
Thompson threw for 61 yards and led the first-team offense on an 80-yard touchdown drive against the first-team defense to start Saturday’s action at Williams-Brice Stadium before taking a seat. Orth, a 6-foot-1, 212-pound sophomore from Florida who spent his freshman year at Florida State College, completed 6-of-13 passes for 89 yards and threw one interception on a tipped pass. Nosovitch completed 1-of-5 passes for 20 yards, and Mitch completed 5-of-8 passes for 95 yards.
“I am not disappointed in the quarterbacks. They are trying as hard as they can,” Spurrier said. “The pass protection is not all that super right now, but that’s part of spring football and letting these young guys try to play who have never played much.”
Still, with each passing practice it becomes more and more clear that South Carolina’s 2014 season will depend greatly on Thompson and his health.
“Dylan should be ready this year, got to keep him healthy,” Spurrier said.
Freshman walk-on Darius Paulk, younger brother of former South Carolina linebacker Rodney Paulk, led all players in rushing with three carries for 28 yards. Junior starter Mike Davis did not participate in the scrimmage in order to allow younger backs to have practice time. Freshman David Williams did not practice due to a shoulder injury.
“I don’t know how bad it was,” Spurrier said.
K.J. Brent and walk-on Carlton Heard each caught a team-high three passes. Brent gained 63 yard and Heard had 52.
“We all have the same opportunity to get in that second group,” Heard said of the group of wide receivers fighting to play behind Shaq Roland, Pharoh Cooper and Nick Jones. Whoever fights for it the most is going to end up in the spot.”
New look defense
The Gamecocks worked on their Money package Saturday, employing three defensive linemen rather than their regular four and an extra linebacker.
“We are getting better at it,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “We actually did a lot of it today to get it on tape and make sure we are doing the right things.”
Defensive end Mason Harris got most of the work at the Bob position.
“Mason is doing well at it. Now we are going to look at more linebacker types. We put Larenz (Bryant) out there today,” Ward said. “We really put this defense in because of some of the guys we recruited who we think can put their hand in the dirt and rush the passer and also be a guy who can stand up in coverage. Bryson Allen-Williams is a guy who can do it, but he’s a freshman so we have to have some other guys on the team who can do it.”
Junior college transfer Abu Lamin, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle, continued to impress Saturday.
“Abu is coming along,” Ward said. “He’s got a lot of speed and quickness inside that we need. I see him in the backfield a lot when we are rushing the passer.”
Spurrier kept his reserve centers, Clayton Stadnik, Alan Knott and Bryce King after practice for extra work on their shotgun snaps. There were several low snaps during Saturday’s scrimmage and at one point Spurrier pulled Stadnik from the middle of a drive after a bad snap.
“Young Stad was rolling those grounders back pretty regularly today so we tried to keep him out and snapped a few after practice,” Spurrier said.
USC will practice again at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Proving Grounds on Bluff Road. It is open to the public.
... Brandon Wilds 5-yard run (Elliott Fry kick)
... Elliott Fry 22-yard field goal
... Connor Mitch 2-yard run (Landon Ard kick)
... Perry Orth 13-yard pass from Pharoh Cooper (no PAT attempted)
PASSING: Connor Mitch 5-8-0-95; Perry Orth 6-13-1-89; Dylan Thompson 7-7-0-61; Brendan Nosovitch 1-5-2-20; Pharoh Cooper 1-1-0-13, 1 TD. TEAM: 20-34-3-278, 1 TD.
RUSHING: Darius Paulk 3-28; Rod Talley 4-20; Brandon Wilds 2-11, 1 TD; Shon Carson 1-8; Devin Potter 5-3; Connor Mitch 3-2, 1 TD; Perry Orth 5-(-21); Brendan Nosovitch 3-(-23). TEAM: 26-28, 2 TD.
RECEIVING: K.J. Brent 3-63; Carlton Heard 3-52; Shaq Roland 2-21; Matrick Belton 2-21; Brandon Wilds 2-17; Nick Jones 2-11; Shamier Jeffery 1-38; Andrew Bunch 1-20; Perry Orth 1-13, 1 TD; Shon Carson 1-12; Devin Potter 1-6; Pharoh Cooper 1-4. TEAM: 20-278, 1 TD.