It’s tough to learn much after the opening day of football practice. In fact, I learned more Friday night about South Carolina’s fan base than about the Gamecocks’ football team.
A crowd that stacked three to four deep all along the boundary of the team’s Bluff Road practice fields stayed until nearly 10 p.m. to take in the first workout of the season. (The Gamecocks preseason practices are expected to be open to the public for at least a week.)
Optimism clearly abounds for Steve Spurrier’s ninth season in Columbia.
1. As for the product on the field, senior quarterback Connor Shaw should have been intercepted on his first pass of 7-on-7 work and backup Dylan Thompson was picked off later in the drill, causing some unnecessary mumbling among the aforementioned crowd. Both plays came on routes jumped by safeties who have seen the offense’s plays again and again and again. In fact, after dropping Shaw’s pass, Brison Williams barked, “Breaking out the curls early today.” So, if you saw the passes and if you worried, don’t.
2. Watching sophomore tailback Shon Carson return to the field, I wonder how much he might help this team. The options start at “Not at all” and go up to “Quite a bit.” He doesn’t seem to be competing for a starting job, but he could be a difference maker as a guy who can take a third down screen pass and go 70 yards. If anybody remembers a scatback at Georgia from about 10 years ago named Tyson Browning, this is Carson’s ideal role in my opinion, and it could be an important one.
3. I had hoped to watch more of sophomore linebacker Cedrick Cooper, who is wearing a brace on his surgically repaired knee, but my time got filled with other things, so check back with us on that. I expect Cooper to be the starting weakside linebacker this year and an All-SEC selection by the time he’s an upperclassman.