Another Garnet and Black Spring Game is in the books, with the Black team winning 28 to the Garnet's 10. Here's what jumped out at me while I watched:
1. The offense, as expected, looks very strong. Dylan Thompson led the Black offense to 21 first-half points. The squad struggled briefly early in the second quarter with Perry Orth in at quarterback, but while Thompson was in during the first quarter and late in the second, Black had no trouble moving the ball. Thompson looked crisp while picking apart the typical vanilla defensive scheme you see during the Spring Game. He also occasionally showed off his deceptive mobility when earning yardage on the edge with his feet. Many Carolina fans have debated whether Thompson deserves the confidence as the undoubted number one quarterback Spurrier has given him, but he was clearly the best on the field yesterday.
Another positive I noted was how effective the first-team offensive line was in pass protection. Granted, defensive end will likely be a weakness for the Gamecocks next year, and the defense did not blitz, but I'm optimistic that what we saw yesterday was progress from an offensive line that was strong in run-blocking last year but weak against the pass rush.
Another player from the first-team offense who stuck out to me was TE Jerrell Adams. With Rory Anderson out with injury, Adams looked great on a 34-yard catch-and-run. It's obviously a shame for both the team and the player that Anderson is hurt, but the drop-off with Adams shouldn't be considerable.
2. Out of the other quarterbacks, Connor Mitch was clearly the best. Mitch went a respectable 7-10 for 100+ yards, showing good judgment and poise in the pocket as well as an accurate arm. Perry Orth showed why Spurrier likes him so much with some good passes including a very pretty 41-yard touchdown toss down the sideline to walk-on WR Matrick Belton late in the game, but he also threw the game's only interception. Brendan Nosovitch had the worst day of the group, throwing several very errant passes. Granted, Nosovitch may still be useful as a situational running quarterback, but his play yesterday didn't inspire confidence in his ability to crack the starting lineup during his career.
3. The defense looked vulnerable. Granted, they were running a vanilla scheme with no blitzes, and the linebackers and secondary laid off a few times when they had the opportunity to lay heavy hits on receivers. Moreover, the defense will get a strong infusion of talent when the incoming freshman class arrives on campus, hopefully with Dexter Wideman in tow. Still, the ease with which Thompson and, to a lesser degree, Mitch were able to pick apart the opposing defenses makes one wonder how well this defense is going to measure up against the better offenses in the SEC.
4. David Williams looked great. It's difficult to imagine that the coaches won't find a way to get this kid onto the field despite the logjam at runningback. Williams showed off his impressive combination of size and speed with several good runs. Given that speed is his calling card, I was impressed to see how muscular he looks and how powerful he is running the ball. Players who match that kind of size with elite speed don't come along often. Shon Carson also looked good on a long catch-and-run but apparently suffered what's hoped to be a minor shoulder injury on the play.
Garnet and Black Attack readers, what most jumped out at you while watching the game?