G.A. Mangus is one coach for South Carolina who probably is taking a little more interest in how his backups are performing this week than how his starter is doing.
USC’s quarterbacks coach understands what he’s going to get in fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson in the final game of his career. In his only season as a full-time starter, Thompson set a single-season passing mark with 3,280 yards. That also leads the SEC.
“He prepares like he always has,” Mangus said. “He’s had some good practice so far. We all want to finish the year. That’s the one everyone talks about the rest of the year. It’s his last one, and I know he wants to play well in his last one and I think he will.”
But the bowl practice has been another opportunity to get a look at the backups – Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia. Mitch and Orth combined to throw eight passes this season.
It will be an interesting spring as the Gamecocks go searching for a new signal-caller next season.
But Mangus likes what he sees out of Mitch.
“We always try to give young guys reps during bowl practice,” he said. “That’s why it is always critical to get into one and let these young guys play a little bit. They’ve gotten some good scrimmage time the last week or so. Connor Mitch has seen the light bulb come on. He’s starting to figure it out. He’s made some nice throws and checks and done some good things.”
Four players, including Drew Owens, and walk-ons Caleb Hines, Michael Washington and Stephen Petty, have left the team, according to South Carolina.
The Gamecocks will continue bowl preparations with practice in Columbia on Saturday afternoon, Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. They will leave for Shreveport later Tuesday and hold a team welcome at Riverview Theater at 5:30 that afternoon.
The first practice in Shreveport will be 11:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve at Loyola Prep. They will practice again on Christmas Day at 11:30 a.m. before heading to a team bowling event at 4 p.m.
On Friday, USC will have a walk-through at Independence Stadium. That night, there will be a parade and pep rally at The Outlets of Louisiana Boardwalk. Kickoff against Miami is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday on ABC.
Shreveport history lesson
Steve Spurrier addressed the media on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and his second session mostly was to make up for a blunder he delivered Wednesday. He mentioned that USC was looking forward to playing in the Liberty Bowl before being corrected by the local media.
So Spurrier gave the assembled media members a quick history lesson on Shreveport on Thursday.
“Shreveport is the home for David Toms, who won the PGA Championship a few years back. Also home to former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver. It’s also home to a quarterback I had at Florida named Brock Berlin, who transferred and played at Miami. So Shreveport has a lot of history there. We’re looking forward to going to Shreveport and playing in the Independence Bowl.”
Ray Tanner spoke on Frank Martin’s call-in show on Thursday. He said USC has sold 1,400 of its 8,000-ticket allotment to the Independence Bowl.
Tanner encouraged fans to buy tickets and donate them to the military if they’re not planning on going to the game themselves, and between those donations – plus tickets for the USC band and support staff – he estimated sales are around 3,000. Tanner said the Gamecocks have sold many more tickets than Miami.
Offensive tackle Brandon Shell didn’t have his arm in a sling but missed his third straight day of practice. RG Cody Waldrop was also in yellow with a sore knee. Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Waldrop, Shell (shoulder), OL Donell Stanley (left wrist), RG Mike Matulis (right knee) and TE Rory Anderson (left tricep).
... Steve Spurrier Jr. said that Shaq Roland didn’t have the year he wanted to have, but couldn’t pinpoint any one thing that caused it. He didn’t comment on whether or not Roland would be back next year, saying he would coach whoever shows up on the field. He didn’t know if Roland had applied for an NFL evaluation.
... Spurrier Jr. also said that getting nine players in early to school was integral to the team’s success next year. He said all nine are very talented and that the Gamecocks will keep recruiting, since he knows everybody else will try to poach recruits.
... Jerell Adams said he didn’t apply for an NFL evaluation. He’ll be back next year.