Scrimmage report: USC offense is 'pretty ugly'

Running back race between Davis, Wilds too close to call

jkendall@thestate.comMarch 28, 2013 

USC's Kaiwan Lewis, left, forces the ball from Kendric Salley during the Spring scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com

Freshman quarterback Connor Mitch highlighted a South Carolina scrimmage Thursday in which “nothing much happened,” according to Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier.

“Typical youngsters,” Spurrier said Thursday after his team held its first scrimmage of the spring.

Almost all the snaps in the workout were given to reserves like Mitch, an early enrollee who completed 9-of-11 passes for 78 yards and the only touchdown of the scrimmage.

“Connor Mitch, he threw a few good ones here and there,” Spurrier said. “He’s got a chance to be a real good one, no question.”

Overall, though, “it was pretty ugly for the offense,” Spurrier said.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Brendan Nosovitch was the next-leading passer with 55 yards on 5-of-11 passing. Junior Dylan Thompson threw just three passes, completing one for 16 yards.

“Just throwing a touchdown in general is always going to be a confidence boost,” Mitch said.

Sophomore tailback Mike Davis led all Gamecocks in rushing with 31 yards on three carries.

“We had a few decent runs,” Spurrier said. “The quarterbacks kept trying to keep the ball. They weren’t going anywhere. They have to learn to hand off. Connor Shaw is our running quarterback.”

The Gamecocks will scrimmage again Thursday and Saturday of next week in Williams-Brice Stadium. The scrimmages are open to the public.

Too close to call

Davis and sophomore Brandon Wilds are in a “pretty tight” competition to be South Carolina’s starting tailback, running backs coach Everette Sands said.

“Mike had a couple nice runs. Brandon had a couple nice runs today,” Sands said. “Both of them are doing a better job in pass protection. It’s a tight race.”

Wilds had two carries for 7 yards in the scrimmage.

Freshman Kendric Salley is the Gamecocks' third tailback this spring with Shon Carson sitting out spring practice to play baseball. Carson has been a regular contributor for the baseball team recently, but his role is expected to diminish with Graham Saiko back in the lineup.

“We told (Carson) when we were recruiting him, ‘You can play baseball. As long as you are over there contributing a lot, you are OK. If you’re a pinch hitter once every five or six games, we need to bring you back,’ ” Sands said. “He’s doing a good job over there, so we’re perfectly fine with that. It is setting him back a little here because again the competition is still going.

Rabbit rotation

The Gamecocks are committed to getting production out of their rabbits package on the defensive line again this year, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. The Gamecocks expect to use junior Jadeveon Clowney and senior Chaz Sutton as tackles in the four-defensive alignment, with sophomore Mason Harris and freshman Darius English on the outside, Ward said.

“One guy who I thought rushed the passer well (Thursday) was Mason Harris,” Ward said. “That’s exciting to see because that’s what he’s going to have to do for us if he’s going to help us on defense.”

Injury update

Wide receiver Damiere Byrd remains sidelined by a hamstring injury. Wide receiver coach Steve Spurrier Jr. hopes Byrd will return to the practice field next week, he said.

Video: Practice/scrimmage sights and sounds

Video: Steve Spurrier

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