For the final scrimmage of the fall, at least the last full-go one, another round of the good, not-so-good, observations and all that good stuff you’ve come to know and expect for as long as we’ve been doing this from scrimmages. (A full week now.)
Here you are:
- Bryce Sherman has moved from good camp story to a full-blown factor in the running game. He rushed for 113 yards on just 10 carries – the big one being a 45-yarder – as well as a 17-yard catch. On the reception, Sherman took a dump-off and took care of the rest. He also had a seven-yard carry that should've been a three- or four-yard loss, but he shook off a tackler.
Afterwards, coach Steve Spurrier said he would find a way to get Sherman a scholarship, a strong indication that Sherman will play. Normally you give walk-ons who have been around a few years the reward of a scholarship. But the coach has become convinced of Sherman’s ability to take hits and make plays.
“He’s a football player,” Spurrier said.
- Stephen Flint, speaking of walk-ons who were just awarded scholarships, made the catch of the spring. On a ball that for looked to be underthrown, he made a leaping grab on the sideline, beating a cornerback and an oncoming safety.
Flint looks to be for real too. He’ll play against N.C. State.
Who knew when this month started that the individual stories of camp on the offense would be Bryce Sherman and Stephen Flint? (Well, Tori Gurley and the loss of Joe Hills also, but still.)
- Alshon Jeffery, still working with the second team, had a couple touchdown catches. On the first he caught a crossing pass from Reid McCollum, then beat several defenders to the right side of the end zone. The next he made an Aramis Hillary pass across the middle look good with a leaping grab in the end zone.
It was a very freshman-heavy rotation at receiver. Moe Brown didn’t play, since he’s a senior and they know what they have. Jason Barnes is still hurt. The starters for this scrimmage, in a three-receiver set, were Gurley, DeMario Bennett (who eventually hurt his shoulder) and D.L. Moore.
- Spencer Lanning may be rounding into form. He nailed a 53-yarder, after struggling in earlier scrimmages. He also has zero competition at the moment: The scrimmage’s other kicker was Joey Scribner-Howard, who just joined the team but is ineligible this season after transferring from Carson-Newman. Adam Yates is still hurt, so Lanning was also kicking off.
- Stephen Garcia had a “so-so” performance, to use Spurrier’s words. (They were mine too.) He was 10-for-23 for 100 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. It was a precipitous drop-off from Wednesday’s scrimmage; of course this time Garcia was throwing to less experienced players, and was trying more downfield stuff.
It wasn’t the kind of performance that should send any fans to the panic button, just like Wednesday’s game shouldn’t have had anybody thinking Sugar Bowl. Having watched three scrimmages, I still feel the same way about Garcia that I did before the first: He could be great, or he could be a disaster. But all USC needs is for him to be solid.
- The offensive line didn’t have its best day. The pass protection was pretty poor, considering the defense held out Eric Norwood, Cliff Matthews and Nathan Pepper. The run blocking wasn’t great either, with Sherman and Jarvis Giles bailing the line out a couple times with some nice adjustment runs.
In addition, there still are a lot of shotgun snaps that seem to hang in the air a bit longer than you’d want.
- The bathrooms at Williams-Brice Stadium aren’t in game shape yet. Trust me.
- Melvin Ingram had an interesting day. The defensive tackle fell to the ground from apparent exhaustion (it was pretty hot) after one play. Then he returned and sacked Garcia. Then later he went down with cramps.
- There was a bit of cross-positioning early in the scrimmage, when Chris Culliver appeared to be at cornerback and Akeem Auguste at safety. We didn’t see it much later, as the secondary generally stuck to backups.
- The fact that Hillary got a long look was telling. While Zac Brindise (now a scholarship quarterback) got a series, the coaches were either giving Hillary one more shot before the season started to show his stuff, or were getting him ready to be the third guy.
There were no Stephon Gilmore-Wild Cock formation plays. But I still tend to think that if the unthinkable happened and Garcia and Reid McCollum both went down, Gilmore would get the most consideration. Hillary just doesn’t look very confident right now.
Incidentally, McCollum had to come out of the scrimmage after hurting his arm, but Spurrier said it wasn’t serious.
- Ladi Ajiboye and Garrett Anderson went mano-a-mano at the end of the scrimmage. But it was more comical than violent, as some people laughed, and nobody tried to break it up. It reminded me of a hockey fight where even the referees back off, except there were hardly any serious punches.
Spurrier joked afterwards that Ajiboye and Anderson go at it almost once a week. Indeed, they appeared to be laughing about it themselves afterwards.
OVERALL FINAL THOUGHT
I don’t really have one. It’s a Saturday. You really shouldn’t have read this far anyway. Go out and enjoy the fleeting moments of summer.