Steve Spurrier made headlines early on Thursday when he ushered in the informal beginning of the college football season by making his first appearance on The Proving Grounds without a shirt on. Behold the Head Ball Coach in all of his nearly-nude glory in the photo above and as an after-the-credits surprise in this #dunkcam video posted by Shaq Roland.
As for Thursday's practice, the 68-year-old greeted the media in a rather foul mood about how his team played:
Pretty sorry practice tonight. It really was. We had trouble snapping the ball to the quarterback and pass protection was not very good. But we don't play for 3 weeks, so we've got some time to hopefully get these young guys ready in case they need to play.
But quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus wasn't too concerned, pointing out that the main culprits were freshmen getting adjusted to new techniques in just their seventh practice of their collegiate careers:
We've got some young guys that have never played center, and we've got some QBs that have never taken snaps under center until they got here. That's the world we live in. A lot of kids coming out high school have never been under center in their lives. And you've got tackles coming in to play center that have never played center.
Mangus also shared his thoughts on the development of true freshman quarterback Connor Mitch:
Connor Mitch has made some progress. He worked on a couple of mechanical things over the summer. But he's got a lot to learn. When he's throwing individual routes he looks pretty good, but it's a different game when there's twenty-two guys on the field. So he just has to play, but he's going to be fine.
Mangus admitted that the plan is to redshirt Mitch in his first year on campus, but wasn't willing to rule catastrophically bad injury luck:
On paper, [Mitch redshirting] would be the most likely scenario. But again, he's just three injuries away from playing. You never know. Ask Maryland's staff. He'll play before we have to move a linebacker over to play quarterback.
The last line of defense between the Connor Mitch and the playing field is redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch, whose development Mangus is more than content to slow cook:
He's working on some mechanical deals, but he can draw up his plays, and he knows where everybody's at. And now it's just getting that confidence. Confidence is a huge deal. Dylan [Thompson] was that way a couple years ago, too. With knowledge comes confidence, and with confidence comes playing. You've got to play. And the more he plays, he's going to be just fine.
At least for 2013, these concerns will all be rendered moot if Connor Shaw is able to stay healthy. But there's a popular belief that Shaw's style of play and unwillingness to slide and avoid hits makes his continued health an unlikely proposition. Mangus disagrees:
He doesn't take a lot of hard hits. He takes some hits in the pocket like all quarterbacks do. But in terms of running the ball, he doesn't take very many. He's very good at protecting himself and getting down. And he'll continue to do that. He's pretty crafty when it comes to that. I'm not too worried about it.
But my absolute favorite part of Thursday's post-practice interviews was Shamier Jeffery attempting to answer questions in what appeared to be mid-sprint.
Shamier has worked hard to get in better shape and compete for playing time at the X receiver position.
[I've lost] 20-25 lbs since the beginning of bowl week. I'm moving a little quicker. A little faster. I'm at 195 to 200. Up in that area. Running a lot, working out, drinking a lot of water, eating good. I've given up late night eating and late night snacks.
On comparisons to his brother:
I'm going to try to do some of the same things [Alshon does], but I probably won't do them as well as he do. But I'm going to try to top him.
On his reaction to having the coaching staff heap praise upon him during the early days of fall practice:
It feels good to have coach talk about me. Because I messed up last year, but now I'm moving forward from it.
South Carolina resumes practice on Friday night at 7 PM EDT.