Saturday was the annual spring football game for the South Carolina Gamecocks, and even though it was only a scrimmage, it felt a lot like fall, as more than 30,000 fans streamed into Williams-Brice Stadium in their game day-garnet attire.
The game pretty much showed three things the coaches already know: 1) the offense can be explosive, 2) there are question marks on defense, and 3) they need to ensure they have depth at key positions so they are prepared. The offense highlighted the first half of play with Dylan Thompson leading the Black squad and Connor Mitch at the helm for the Garnet squad. Thompson led the team down the field, looking like the offense of last year, with a 10-play drive capped off by short TD run by Brandon Wilds.
Not to be outdone, Connor Mitch showed he could lead the team as well, taking them 70 yards down the field, including a short drop pass underneath to Shon Carson, who then turned up field and showed off his speed with an almost 40 yard play. David Williams then showed why the Gamecocks were so excited about him with three straight runs to finish the drive in the end zone and tie the game at seven. Thompson was back, though, and showed why he is the starter, with a great 70 yard drive to even things up in the quarter. Jerell Adams made a big play to start the drive, which was great news, considering starting TE Rory Anderson was watching from the sideline not able to play due to his injury. David Williams made sure the fans knew who he was, scoring again from four yards out to finish it. Thompson finished the game 8-of-11 for 129 yards and Connor Mitch was 7-of-10 for 108 yards.
From this point, the game was more about the opportunities to see what some players could do in certain situations.
Perry Orth had a rough start, tossing a wobbly throw that was intercepted by former running back Jamari Smith to start the second quarter. Once he settled down, though, he went 6-of-9 for 86 yards through the remainder of the game–including a spectacular play to Columbia-native Matrick Belton for a 41 yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Brendan Nosovitch threw the ball with some great velocity on a few throws, but in the end was only 4-of-11 for just under 100 yards. At running back, Steve Spurrier stuck to the game plan, only running Mike Davis twice before he was done for the day, and Brandon Wilds only three times including that one TD. The team showed a lot of different looks at running back as freshman David Williams was the leading rusher for the day, running for both sides a total of 7 times for 35 yards and two touchdowns. Devin Potter and Darius Paulk pretty much picked up the rest of the load, with Paulk rushing 6-for-23 yards and Potter 4-for-24 yards, each having a run over 10 yards on the day.
But the moment everyone was waiting for came right before halftime.
After a couple of rushes by Williams, Thompson was back in at QB, and though most people probably thought he was going to throw to Connor Shaw (who had been standing on the sideline), he instead he hit a wide-open Dawn Staley in the end zone for a 30 yard touchdown play. Staley and her Gamecocks women’s basketball team were recognized at halftime as well for winning the SEC Championship. After the TD pass, many of the Gamecock players carried Staley on their shoulders in celebration of her big play.
In the end, the Black team won 28-10, showing off much of the talent from last year’s offense. The defense was led by Skai Moore, who continued right where he left off last season with four tackles. It’s hard to fully judge the defense, considering the quarterbacks can’t be hit (which changes the entire way you scheme) and they were playing against an offense which many consider to be one of the best in the country (averaging over 34 points a game last year). However, the defense still appeared to struggle to get any pressure or stop any drives until the key starters were no longer on the field.
Either way, the game builds a lot of excitement for what is to come as fans countdown to August 28, when the Gamecocks kick off their season against Texas A&M.