Confident South Carolina finishes quiet spring
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier didn’t get a lot of answers out of spring practice, but for once he came in without a lot of questions.
Spurrier said after Saturday’s spring game that he will wait until fall practice to name a backup quarterback.
Spurrier already knows Dylan Thompson will be his starting quarterback. Also, second-team all-Southeastern Conference tailback Mike Davis will get most of the carries and four starters return on the offensive line from last year’s 11-2 team.
There are plenty of questions on defense because Spurrier won’t let them loose on his offense in the spring. The Gamecocks must replace star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and nearly the entire secondary.
South Carolina has depth, minus just five seniors and four players who left early for the NFL off a team that won 11 games for a third straight season. The Gamecocks need to replace quarterback Connor Shaw, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and cornerback Victor Hampton.
”We’ve got a lot of players who have been here quite a while. What that means is only that,” Spurrier said. ”It doesn’t mean we’re going to beat a lot of teams or not. We can go bad or we can good. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Spurrier uses the spring game for his new guys, so Thompson and Davis saw limited action. Thompson was 8-for-11 for 129 yards, while Davis carried the ball just twice.
For the backup quarterbacks, freshman Connor Mitch had the best spring game, completing seven of his 10 passes for 37 yards. He will be pushed by Brendan Nosovitch, who is more of a running threat, although the sophomore couldn’t punch the ball in near the goal line. Nosovitch ran the ball four times for 19 yards and was 4-of-11 passing for 97 yards,
After an earlier scrimmage, Spurrier suggested that the season might hinge on keeping Thompson healthy. He said after the spring game that it might be fall practice before he names his No. 2 QB.
”The guy standing closest to me might get to go in,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina’s young, inexperienced defense did have its moments. They broke up four passes and had an interception. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward likes pressure and hard-hitting and chaos and Spurrier doesn’t want that unleashed on his team.
”I understand what the game is about. We want to make sure our fans are happy when we leave here and we like to see points on the board.” Ward said.
Spurrier kept up his tradition of the quarterback throwing a touchdown pass to someone sneaking in from the sideline. South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley caught the 30-yard touchdown pass right in the chest while falling backward. She did a grass angel to celebrate and was carried off on the shoulders of a couple of players.
Staley’s team was a top seed at the NCAA tournament.
”That was the most nervous I have ever been throwing a pass,” said Thompson, who was put back in the game just to get his team in position to throw the TD.