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USC practice report: Aug. 9 scrimmage

News of the day

The last time USC had played at Williams-Brice Stadium, it was a forgettable day for the quarterbacks: Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher combined for eight interceptions in the spring game in April.

But Beecher, Smelley and redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia had a strong showing in Saturday’s scrimmage, combining to complete 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and five touchdowns. There was only one interception: a Garcia pass that cornerback Captain Munnerlyn picked off.

Beecher and Smelley both threw two touchdowns - Beecher twice hit tight end Weslye Saunders for scores - while Garcia also added a touchdown pass.

Stock rising

Saunders has dropped weight and is in much better shape than he was as a freshman. With fellow tight end Jared Cook out with a toe injury, Saunders has stepped up his play and looks like he will be a headache for opposing safeties and linebackers.

Stock falling

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was not crazy about the pass rush, saying the defense appeared to play slow Saturday. With the front four generating little pressure, the quarterbacks had a big day.

Injury report

Freshman receiver C.C. Whitlock was sidelined with a pulled muscle in his side. Offensive tackle Jamon Meredith (sprained right ankle) was on crutches and is expected to miss a week or two. Meredith must sit the first two games because of an NCAA eligibility ruling. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who sprained his left ankle Friday, missed the scrimmage due to a funeral.

Quote of the day

"He's showing a lot of leadership. He’s not making any mental errors. He's making strong plays, going out there and leading the team. So I think he’s got a pretty good grip on (the starting job)," - Saunders on Beecher, who remains the No. 1 quarterback.

Up next

The Gamecocks will hold their Fan Appreciation Day from 1 to 2:30 p.m. today at the Colonial Life Arena. USC’s 7:30 p.m. practice is closed to the public.

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