Aug. 13, 2008
The rainy weather came to an end as the South Carolina Gamecocks made their way to Williams-Brice Stadium to scrimmage for the last half of Wednesday night's practice. A crowd estimated at nearly 5,000 strong took advantage of a rare cool night in Columbia to watch many of the younger Gamecocks take the field just two weeks and one day away from the 2008 season opener against NC State.
"Brian Maddox had some good runs and none of our guys got seriously hurt tonight, although we did have some of our running backs get dinged a little bit," said Head Coach Steve Spurrier following the scrimmage. "Our quarterback play wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping it would be. Hopefully it will get better. There were some good plays here and there but overall it was a pretty sloppy offensive performance. Our quarterbacks and receivers didn't play very well. Hopefully we can get better."
The Gamecock offense looked good early, scoring on each of its first two possessions. Junior quarterback Tommy Beecher completed 4-of-5 passes for 22 yards and sophomore Brian Maddox rushed seven times for 48 yards, including burst of 13 and 18 yards before finding paydirt from two-yards out, in the 70-yard opening drive. Sophomore signal-caller Chris Smelley led his unit to another 70-yard touchdown drive on the next possession, completing 3-of-5 passes for 55 yards, culminating with a 3-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Nick Prochak. Highlighting that drive was a 28-yard pass to freshman wide receiver C.C. Whitlock and a 24-yard completion to redshirt freshman Jason Barnes. Whitlock finished as the game's top receiver, catching four passes for 54 yards.
However, after those first two drives, the yards came much more difficult for the offense. Beecher struggled for much of the rest of the night, completing 15-of-30 passes overall for 123 yards. His only touchdown pass came on the game's final play when he hooked up with Jason Barnes on a 15-yard scoring strike. Beecher was also intercepted once by Chris Hail, who stepped in front of the intended receiver and rambled 45 yards to the endzone.
"I thought we would move the ball better, but we didn't, so we have a lot of coaching to do," said Coach Spurrier. "Tommy hasn't played much at all and I guess it was evident tonight. He got hung up and scrambled around and you can't do that in our conference. You have to get rid of it. He knows where (his receivers) all are, but his decision-making - he hasn't done a lot, he hasn't played a lot. That's why we left him out there and let him struggle. We'll see if he can learn from it and go from there. It was probably good for Tommy. He needs to understand that he hasn't done much yet. "
Smelley finished the evening with five completions in 10 attempts for 85 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to his TD pass to Prochak, he hooked up with Joe Hills on a 25-yard pitch-and-catch that put six points on the board.
"Chris Smelley did a few good things here and there tonight. He probably out-graded Tommy tonight. But Tommy's the starter and we'll go from there," added Coach Spurrier.
The Gamecocks will return to the Bluff Road "Proving Grounds" on Thursday afternoon with the closed practice schedule from 3 - 4:30 p.m. Coach Spurrier will host his first radio show on Thursday night from 7-8 p.m. at Wild Wings Café in the Vista.
Chris Hail 45-yard interception return
Joe Hills 25-yard pass from Smelley (Succop kick)
RECEIVING: C.C. Whitlock 4-54; Patrick DiMarco 3-11; Jason Barnes 2-39; Stephen Flint 2-20; Moe Brown 2-13; Joe Hills 1-25; Jared Cook 1-12; Eric Baker 1-12; Yvan Banag 1-9; Kenny Miles 1-5; Paul Haile 1-5; Nick Prochak 1-3. TEAM: 20-208.
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