In some ways, South Carolina’s scrimmage Saturday was perfect for the coaching staff.
Each side of the ball had something to feel good about – for the offense, it was four straight drives of 70-plus yards to open the scrimmage and, for the defense, it was a victory in the competitive portion at the end. But the best part for the coaches was how badly their side of the ball played at other times.
Football coaches like few things better than something to complain about in the spring, and the offense and defense complied. Not that the coaches’ complaints – on offense, it was how quickly the offense melted down after early success and, on defense, the abundance of missed assignments – don’t have plenty of validity, but, in a dozen years of doing this, I have never heard a college coach say, “We’ve got it all figured out,” in the spring.
“I thought it was the same old stuff. We bust an assignment, they make a good play. They bust an assignment, we make a good play,” assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson said. “As individuals, we look like we are pretty soft with the young linemen. I didn’t see a lot of physical play in there. Still a couple of really bad mistakes out back. Things that at some point in time have got to turn around. This isn’t about playing a game, it’s about trying to develop players. What I am disappointed in is they are not consistently improving.”
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Johnson has plenty of right to be concerned about the secondary after what happened last year, but his complaints about the defensive line are mostly due to the fact that Travian Robertson, Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram sat out all or most of the scrimmage.
Offensively, wide receiver DeAngelo Smith compared Saturday’s scrimmage to last season’s Kentucky game, when the Gamecocks built a big lead and wilted in the second half.
“It was typical of some of our guys, had a little early success and then they can’t handle success,” head coach Steve Spurrier said. “Disappointing but it’s history. Hopefully, we can learn from it and move on.”