The Gamecocks continued fall camp today, and a couple of positive messages emerged from the post-practice interviews. First of all, G.A. Mangus had a lot of positive things to say about the performance of Connor Shaw in fall practice, including pointing out that he had one of his best practices today. After Shaw struggled in last weekend's scrimmage, there was some internet banter, including here, that perhaps Shaw was losing ground to Dylan Thompson, who seems to have improved of late. However, Mangus insisted that Shaw has a solid grip on the starting position. Mangus pointed out that Shaw has shown improvement in working the ball downfield and has made some very nice throws to tight windows deep. That's exactly what we want to hear, as one of Shaw's major issues--along with perhaps too little zip on mid-range throws--is tentativeness in throwing the ball downfield to receivers who aren't wide open. Shaw hasn't always shown confidence in his ability to make those throws or his receivers' ability to make plays on the ball in coverage. Hopefully, he's buying what the coaches are selling and is becoming more confident in these regards, as the coaches do believe that he can make these throws, which would help take our passing game to the next level. Of course, doing it in games is harder than doing it at practice, but we've got progress here.
The other positive news regards center Cody Waldrop, who Shawn Elliott praised effusively. Center is one of the biggest replacement spots on the team this year; Waldrop is the only non-returning starter on the offensive line, and he replaces the steady T.J. Johnson, a player we grew accustomed to relying on during Johnson's run towards the South Carolina record for most starts in a career. If Waldrop is indeed prepared to play as well as Elliott seems to believe, it will go a long way towards making this year's offensive line the excellent unit it appears to have the potential to be. Because of his youth, Waldrop appears to be the only potential weak link.
I also noted that Elliott seems really impressed with the backups on the offensive line. Hopefully, we won't have to play too many of them this year, but given Elliott's comments, I'll bet this will be a good group down the road.