South Carolina Fall Practice Updates
Twenty-one days until kick-off! Until now, most of our claims and predictions have been based off of what we had returning, expectations, and the “what if’s” of the off-season. All of our teams have been plagued by these vague projections.
“What if Manziel is suspended this season?”
“What will South Carolina do without Lattimore?”
“Can Aaron Murray beat Carolina, or will he be the only QB in Georgia history to never beat the Gamecocks?”
“Will Robert Nkemdiche be the next Clowney?” [No.]
We all know the drill. Here we are though, grind time. Fall practice is in session. Obviously, I only really care to report on the Gamecocks, sorry Dawgs. Of course, this could help you in week two, so pay attention anyways!
My information is limited due to Coach Spurrier closing practice to the public after three practices. I will say this, though, I am VERY impressed with the team thus far.
Connor Shaw has returned, and in practice has been possessed by Peyton Manning. Okay, that is a little stretch, but he has been hitting a very high percentage of his passes so far. He has shown nice touch on deep passes, and has limited his mistakes. He and Dylan Thompson have solidified themselves as the top two by a long shot. Nosovitch had some nice passes but not nearly as impressive as Connor and Dylan. Look for Connor to really show out this year. I may be changing my statistical projections from Episode 3 of the Podcast! Connor Mitch is definitely our Quarterback of the Future. Look out for him to take over in 2015 after Dylan graduates. He showed great arm strength & accuracy. He’s in his first fall camp and looks like a quality back up that could challenge for first string. Luckily, we won’t need him to do that yet.
Most Improved: Connor Shaw
This will be the Wilds & Davis show with occasional guest appearances of Shon Carson and Kendric Salley. At the last open practice, Shon Caron showed he is a baller. In the first couple, Kendric showed some great runs as well. The starting spot is still between Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis, but if we do not use all of our backs like LSU has been doing, then I will be greatly disappointed. By the looks of David Williams and Jamari Smith, I’d bank on them being redshirted.
Most Improved: Shon Carson (Mainly because of returning from injuries and still being explosive.)
Bruce Ellington. This guy is a beast. He has an endless motor.
“The other day he ran 50 gassers. Who runs 50 gassers? Bruce ran his gassers and then there were a few people who were late and had to run so Bruce ran with those guys too. I’ve never heard of anyone doing something like that. Do you know how much that is? Fifty gassers, that’s crazy.”
Aside from Bruce asserting himself as a dominate force, he also clocked out with the second fasted 40 time at 4.34 seconds. Damiere Byrd has shown improvement. He had the fastest 40 time, but who didn’t expect that? With that being said, Nick Jones has shown enough to lock up a starting spot. Look for Bruce, Nick, and Damiere to be on the field most. Shamier Jeffery is improving and should see plenty of playing time. I’m hoping he turns into the receiver his brother was, but those are big shoes to fill. Shaq Roland on the other hand, has been hugely disappointing to me in his brief college career. He missed the first practice due to academic issues (likely missed classes). Connor Shaw subliminally called him out in post practice interviews with a funny, “Yeah, Shaq had a great practice today.” I’m paraphrasing, but for the most part it’s spot on. To top off the maturity and motivation issues, he’s been dropping catches and can hardly field punts. If he doesn’t straighten up, look for Shaq to be a huge bust in our recruiting efforts.
Most Improved: Bruce Ellington/Nick Jones
Busta Anderson is the clear cut #1 here. The tight ends have been making great catches and really putting in work. Jerrell Adams also missed one practice for the same reason as Roland, but when he returned he picked up where he left off. He’s a hard worker on the field, hopefully it begins to translate to the classroom as well.
Most Improved: Busta Anderson
Oh sweet baby Jesus, I have waited so long for this offensive line. They have been showing the nastiness required in the trenches. Freshman Na’Ty Rogers even got into a fight. While I don’t approve of this, to quote Shaw, “It shows he has man parts.” That nastiness is what has been missing. Our line is the size of Bama’s, while not as skilled coming out of high school, they are battle tested. Center Cody Waldrop should fill in nicely in the huge gap left by TJ Johnson. For once, the offensive line looks to be a strength, not a weakness!
Most Improved: Cody Waldrop
After fall practices, I am feeling much better about this group. They were ball hawking everywhere. If the ball got past the line of scrimmage, they were there. Linebackers were getting deflections and interceptions. It seems as though they are making up for inexperience with their athleticism and skills. Ced Cooper injured himself, but looks to be available in the next 7-10 days.
Most Improved: Due to the inexperience, I’ll name the unit as a whole.
Once again these will be the strengths of our team. Clowney is being pushed hard to play every down like it’s his last. He MAY actually win that Heisman if he does. Victor Hampton is doing very well, he is the clear leader of the secondary. Overall, the entire defense has been lights out, Chaz Sutton is going to make himself well known across the nation this year. You heard it here first!
Most Improved: Chaz Sutton
Over all, this team looks to be the best that Coach Spurrier has ever fielded while coaching the Garnet & Black. I’m sticking to a 12-0 prediction now that fall camp is going on. Besides me, who else is waiting for a Gurley v. Clowney head on collision? I say start them 10 yards apart and go head on. I give Clowney the edge, but that would be the hit heard ’round the world! First off, we have to wipe the floor with Dabo’s Carolina.
It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!