Spring Game Afterthoughts

There was a great turnout as always at the annual Garnet and Black spring game yesterday and Steve Spurrier believes it was the best attendance in spring game history (35,000 plus). I was sitting there myself saying “dang, I don’t ever remember seeing this many people in the stands.” There is nothing better than a bunch of Gamecocks getting together to enjoy a spring ballgame as if it were the first game of the season, this is a testament of how great and supportive Gamecock Nation really is.

Obviously you can’t read too much into the game for the simple fact that starters play sparingly, the defense is very limited and the offense usually puts on a clinic, but it is good to see some young guys out there and see how they play in front of a crowd.
I was most impressed with 2nd year running back Mike Davis; he looks very strong and has great vision as well as some pretty nifty cutbacks. He looks as if he is primed for the starting job this season and should be a big piece of the offense. Davis had 40 yards on just 2 carries and 1 TD that came on a 25 yard burst, on which at first he looked bottled up. Brandon Wilds also looked very solid and by no means will shy away from contact. The Gamecocks should have a valuable 1,2, punch at the RB position during the 2013-2014 season.

Dylan Thompson got the start for the “Black Team” and on the first possession throws a pick to Chaz Elder. The DB was beaten but a poor throw by Thompson lead to the pick. My only knock against Thompson would be he seems to enter the game with maybe a little too much energy and it takes him a few snaps to settle down. After the miscue on his first drive he looked solid and composed, finishing his day completing 6 of 10 passes for 96 yards, while finding Shaq Roland in the back of the endzone for a TD.

Overall I think all the QB’s look pretty good even though the defense was limited in coverage and could not blitz. Connor Mitch is as advertised but will most likely take a redshirt this season due to the fact as of now the Gamecocks have three capable quarterbacks to get the job done. Mitch’s pocket awareness looks as if he has been in the program for a few years now and has great confidence; he is just a little late at times and tries to force the ball as well. Mitch is a great asset to our group of quarterbacks and will make huge contributions down the road. Brendan Nosovitch also brings good things to the table and feel as if he is just a ballplayer. He could be one of those guys that may not practice all that well but performs better in game situations. Nosovitch went 4-7 for 69 yards and 1 TD pass.

I am super excited about our tight ends this coming season. Jerrell Adams is a complete “freak” at 6-6 and around the 230, 240 range; he has great speed and athleticism, runs routes very well to be as big as he is and can create great separation with his big frame. Adams may be in for a huge year as a Gamecock. We all know what we can expect for Rory “Busta” Anderson as well, as he showed last season the ability to make big plays down the field. Both of these young TE’s remind me a bit of Jared Cook with their freakish athletic ability and look for both of them to make a difference this season.

The wide receiver as a whole looks pretty good with Ellington, Roland and Jeffery heading up the bunch. These three will receive the majority of touches this season; it’s just up to them to decide who wants to separate themselves as the number one guy. Nick Jones is also a reliable target and I can see him making a valuable impact as well. I really hope Jody Fuller can develop more over the summer and into fall practice; he offers a big strong body and could be a great possession receiver down the road.

The defense seemed to struggle a bit during the game but as I mentioned earlier this is most likely due to the defensive limitations and the lack of experience on the field, as most of the starters only took a few snaps. Tackling was the biggest issue I recognized, which is always the case for younger players. Luckily this can easily be fixed and I cannot really think of a bad tackling defense in the last few years. No one on the defensive side of the ball was really out of place, except for the famous “off the bench” play, where JD Clowney slipped the defense by coming off the sideline at catch a TD pass in the 4th qtr.

There is a lot to be excited about this upcoming season to go along with high expectations. August 29th can’t get here fast enough for any of us, but until then there will be plenty to talk about with the NFL draft a few weeks away and Summer conditioning right around the bend. So don’t worry Gamecock Nation, it will be here before we know it.

Ryan Hood