The Gamecocks conducted a scrimmage Saturday afternoon. All in all, it was pretty dull. As usual, the coaching staff held out many of the starters, which means (1) that there was a bit of sloppy play and (2) that we shouldn't make too much out of what this scrimmage predicts about how we'll perform against ECU. That said, GABA exists to analyze such things. Here's what I'd say we learned:
Either the second-team offensive line needs a lot of work, or the second-team defensive line is awesome. We ran the second-team lines against each other throughout much of the scrimmage, and the defensive line owned the offensive line. Jadeveon Clowney (again) and Kelcy Quarles were in the backfield early and often, disrupting the play of the quarterbacks. Steve Spurrier had some catty things to say about Stephen Garcia after practice, and certainly Garcia's numbers were less than impressive. However, it would have been hard for any quarterback to put up good numbers under that kind of pressure. What to make of this mismatch of lines? Well, what happened isn't too surprising. The offensive line was mainly composed of true freshmen, only a few of whom will get a lot of playing time this year unless we suffer some injuries. They were going up against a group of players who were either (1) more experienced or (2) ungodly talents, as in Clowney's case, particularly. The good news is that we'll see a lot of these defensive players--particularly Clowney--contributing a lot on Saturdays. The bad news will come to light if many players off our offensive line rotation get hurt. Of course, that's always a strong possibility, and we could definitely be in trouble if we suffer many serious o-line injuries and / or some of these young guys don't step their games up over the next few weeks.
Don't make too much of the noise about Garcia. Garcia looked very solid in the drills. The fact that he had Alshon Jeffery to throw to in that scenario probably has something to do with that. He was a bit off in the actual scrimmage, but that was with the backup skills-position players to throw to and his offensive line getting manhandled. When he's playing with an actual offensive line and Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore on the field, he'll be fine.
Maybe the secondary is coming along, after all. After struggling a bit over the past couple of weeks, the secondary played pretty well yesterday. Granted, it got a lot of help from the dominant pass rush, but you can still give it credit for not making any major coverage snafus and converting on good turnover opportunities. There's still a major worry that Brison Williams's injury is going to hurt us, though.
Damiere Byrd will definitely see the field a good bit this year. Although the offense generally struggled yesterday, Byrd's strong play continued to stand out. It's hard to know exactly how much Byrd will play considering how much depth we have at WR and that we already have a more experienced burner in Ace Sanders, but you have to think Byrd has earned some playing time with his stellar camp. He's too good--and in particular too much of a big play threat--to redshirt.
The Carolina centers need to work on the shotgun snap. If you don't think this can have a major, tangible effect on a football season, take a look at how much it hurt the Florida Gators last year.
Maybe we don't have much to worry about the kicking game, after all. Joey Scribner-Howard and Patrick Fish are playing well in a competition for punter, with Scribner-Howard currently in the lead. Jay Wooten looks like he can ably handle placekicking duties. Breaking in new kickers always worries me a bit, but I think we're probably good here.