The Gamecocks scrimmaged this afternoon in front of a small crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium. Here are a few thoughts about what we learned (check here for post-scrimmage interviews galore):
--One player who has played well this August but who we haven't mentioned yet here is senior placekicker Adam Yates. Yates had a forgettable year as a kickoff specialist in 2009 (only one touchback through an entire season of kicking off and numerous big returns allowed, including some that arguably lost the Georgia game for us) and hadn't been heard from since. In fact, Yates's last kickoff was the one that C.J. Spiller returned for a TD to open the Clemson game; Spencer Lanning kicked off for the rest of the game. However, Yates has stuck with the program while riding the bench the last two years, and he now appears to have matured mentally and has even lost weight. He was supposed to compete with Landon Ard for placekicking duties this year, but he has distanced himself from the competition and appears very likely to be our guy on kickoffs and placekicking. He reportedly gets the ball into the endzone with great frequency now on kickoffs, and he's become very consistent on field goals. He went 2-3 today, with one miss and one make from 50+, and one from 40+. Obviously, we need to see him play this way during an actual game to really know if he's ready (the mental aspect was reportedly a problem for him in the past), but I'm feeling fairly confident in him right now.
--I wish I could say the same about the punting situation, which appears to be down to Tyler Hull and Mike Williamson. Hull appears to have the lead and made one very nice punt today on his first attempt, but his second wasn't as good. He seems to struggle with the rush, so hopefully he'll get better as he gets more comfortable trusting his protection.
--The defense, as Spurrier said, got the better of the offense today, but not by as much as we've become accustomed to hearing in previous Augusts. The offense made some big plays and moved the ball, even though we were throwing a lot despite the fact that running will be our strength again. I continue to feel better about our receiver situation. Some players who stood out today in that regard were Shaq Roland, D.L. Moore, and TE Jerrell Adams. Regarding Adams, the staff seems extremely excited about this kid, who has the physical look of an elite NFL TE. He apparently made an absolutely beautiful catch on a Connor Shaw throw where he caught the ball, broke a tackle, and then showed some speed on a long TD sprint. I still think that Justice Cunningham is probably the better blocking TE, but Adams is a better-rounded player. In any event, with Adams, Cunningham, and Rory Anderson, we have some good options for two-TE sets. Adams and Anderson were apparently lined up alongside each other on Adams's TD grab.
--Not a lot of running in this scrimmage (Spurrier doesn't like to run the ball much in scrimmages to prevent injuries), but both Marcus Lattimore and Brandon Wilds had some nice runs. I continue to see no evidence that Lattimore is less than 100%.