Thursday afternoon marked the final practice for South Carolina before its annual Garnet & Black Spring Game. During a warm, sunny day in Columbia, the Gamecocks worked out on their new practice field digs for the final time this spring. After the last practice, head coach Steve Spurrier was not available for the first time all spring but we were fortunate to hear from Shawn Elliott, who we hadn't heard from in a while, as well as others.
The offensive line has been beat up all spring. Mike Matulis and Brandon Shell were out before things even got started due to off-season surgery. Minor injuries to Cody Waldrop and others have left the Gamecocks with five and six offensive lineman for much of the spring. Those guys have been required to go the distance in each practice and each scrimmage so far but Elliott, the offensive line coach, is looking at the positives in that.
"We ended up with five or six guys going in the spring and got a lot of quality reps for these guys," Elliott said. "The experience they gained - guys like Donell Stanley - I told him the other day he probably went 1,200 snaps over 14 practices thus far, so that's really important for a guy like him. Normally he wouldn't have an opportunity to go out and garner that experience and reps. Those are great learning tools and learning experiences for a guy like him. A lot of guys got better," continued Elliott. "Alan Knott became a much better football player. We got exactly what we thought we would out of the spring, fundamental football, assignments and working hard," noted Elliott. "I think spring is an opportunity for your young guys to get in there and play. That's what you want. You want to gain valuable reps for those guys who haven't been in game-type situations."
While the offensive line has been patching itself together, the leaders behind them have been battling for a starting role. "It's been really good," Michael Scarnecchia said of the quarterback competition between Connor Mitch, Perry Orth, and himself. "We've been getting equal reps - me, Connor and Perry - and I think each of us has progressed very well throughout this spring. We're getting a lot of reps and just trying to gel with the team and get a chemistry going. I've been happy getting equal reps," the redshirt freshman expressed. "It's given me a chance to show what I can do. It's given me a chance to learn everything because this offense is a little bit complicated."
Scarnecchia and others will hit the field for the final time this spring tomorrow afternoon in Williams-Brice Stadium for the annual Garnet & Black Spring Game. Tomorrow's kickoff will be at noon and admission is free to all. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network + with Dave Lamont and Booger McFarland in the booth and Kaylee Hartung working the sidelines.