Working out in helmets, pads, and shorts the Gamecocks went through a light practice on Friday afternoon, mostly working on fundamentals in preparation for tomorrow’s spring game.
After practice USC head coach Steve Spurrier described how the two teams will be split up for the game tomorrow. The offense will be in black and white at all times, while the defense will always be in garnet and white, regardless of what actual “team” they are on.
According to Spurrier, fans will have to see which quarterback is under center in order to know which “team” is on the field. When Smelley is on the field, then the garnet team is on offense and the black team is on defense. When Beecher is under center, the black team is on offense, despite their garnet jerseys, and the defense is considered the garnet team. Some guys will also play on both teams.
Following last year's defensive struggle in the spring finale, Spurrier promised more offensive fireworks in future spring games. With that in mind, Spurrier said on Friday that the defense will be limited in their scheme and play calls in order to give the offense a better chance to put up points.
“They’re only rushing four (on defense). Hopefully we’ve got a couple of lines who can block much better than last year. Last year we couldn’t block some of these guys. But we think we can hold our own in there, so we’re going to let them go play and see what happens.”
Spurrier mentioned Ladi Ajiboye, Eric Norwood and Mike Davis by name as players who would not play much in order to avoid injury.
Spurrier says what they are doing on defense is not a whole lot different from what they did for last year’s spring game.
“We’re doing about what we did last year. At one time I thought we’d make the defense play with nine guys, but they didn’t think that was very fair,” Spurrier joked. “We’re going to let Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher compete tomorrow and see which one can play the best; see which one of the receivers can step up and make some plays.”
While Spurrier has been very quiet about which quarterback he thinks has the lead in a very close QB race, he acknowledged tomorrow would be a chance for one quarterback to step out from the other’s shadow.
“They’ve been so close; we’ll just have to see, obviously, if one guy can really show he is ready to play. They’ve been very close in practices, very close in scrimmages, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
The Head Ball Coach is hoping to see a big performance from his young wide receivers tomorrow, as well.
“(Lecorn) is one of our best receivers with Kenny (McKinley) out. Matt Clements, we’re hoping he can make some plays tomorrow. Joe Hills. Weslye (Saunders) and Jared (Cook) had pretty good days today. They didn’t have a very good scrimmage the last time, so hopefully they’ll show up big tomorrow.”
Spurrier also expressed his pleasure with today’s groundbreaking of the Dodie Anderson Academic Center. The $13 million facility will open in the fall of 2009.
“That was a nice ceremony, function we had over there today. Dodie Anderson, as most people know, has made a huge gift. Possibly the (biggest) donation gift to South Carolina athletics ever,” Spurrier said. “It will be a first-class, three-story building. We’re really excited; this will be possibly the largest facility improvement ever here at South Carolina. And we are extremely thankful to Dodie Anderson and her family, her four daughters, for this tremendous gift they have given the University of South Carolina.”
Spurrier believes it will help all of the sports at South Carolina, not just football, in recruiting and their day-to-day operations.
“We’ve made much improvement in football with the new weight room, and the team meeting rooms, enlarging the team meeting rooms. We’re enlarging our training area almost ten times. We’ll have a very, very top of the SEC-type facilities here, especially when the academic center is built.”
Gates at the spring game will open at 11 a.m, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. The game will be open to the public, and admission is free.
- Rising sophomore linebacker Melvin Ingram had a screw put in his foot on Friday after falling down some stairs and “doing something to his foot,” according to Spurrier. Ingram will be out for six weeks to two months.
- Offensive lineman Gurminder Thind, who has battled injuries for most of his career at USC, will likely not play again. He's expected to be placed on a medical scholarship so he can graduate.
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