COCKYTALK SPRING PRACTICE REPORT: 3/20/14 (Practice #3)
2014 Spring Practice 3/20/14 (Practice #3)
Big crowd at the front gate when I got to the practice field. I thought there was some kind of security issue but when I got to the gate, I saw Jadeveon Clowney and Bruce Ellington there signing autographs and posing for pictures with the fans.
The team was already running full squad drills with mainly the backups and walk on players a few of the starters from last year were scattered in as well. They were working out in Shells tonight and during the full team drills, they were running quick reps and about 90% run plays. Looked like they were running a read option plays mainly, with the QBs keeping on several of the reps, or maybe drilling with the hurry up offense. After they finished these drills, they broke up into positions, and the punters and punt return guys got up for some punt blocking work. Odd drill because the coach Robinson was letting a single rusher go full speed to the punter with no one blocking him. Might have been seeing what the punters looked like under pressure / short field. There were more blocked than kicked clean during this drill.
The coaches were using Shaq Roland, Pharoh Cooper, Nick Jones and Shon Carson to field the punts.
After the Punting drills were completed, they brought the team back over for Skels and Full team drills, using the first and second units mostly. The practice was stopped just before 6:pm. Here’s a rundown and my opinion of the practice today:
None of the guys had a particularly good practice. All of them had some nice throws through the team drills. Dylan Thompson (though not his best practice) was clearly the better of the group. Dylan was picked off twice tonight. Both were excellent plays by the Defenders, and one off of a nice defensive deflection from one DB to another. Between Brendon Nosovitch and Connor Mitch today, I’d call it a toss up there. Noso is running the second unit right now. He had no picks on the day, but both he and Mitch were throwing a lot of low balls. Connor was picked off on one play during the skels, but came right back on the next rep and threw a nice seam route about 30 yards to KJ Brent.
The majority of reps went to David Williams, and Devin Potter. Mike Davis carried the ball a couple of times in the Skels, and then sat out the remainder of practice on the sideline. Shon Carson carried the ball several times when the squads were running the quick reps when I first got there tonight, but I didn’t see him used in the skels or 11-on-11. I can tell you that young David Williams has got some “hop” in his legs. Good looking RB with speed on the outside. Reminds me a little of Stanley Pritchett running the ball when he was in a Gamecock uniform ! Mike Davis has put on some mass in both his upper and lower body. I can see both these guys carrying the ball a lot this fall. Haven’t heard what is up with Brandon Wilds, but he was wearing a yellow jersey today.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends:
No one was really as “Stand out” today (for doing it right), but unfortunately, KJ Brent had a standout performance for Bad Hands that got a lot of people’s attention. KJ dropped three or four passes that were THERE, and one of them was on a long, very nicely dialed up play where he beat his man by 5 yards and Dylan Thompson hit him in stride about 40 yards deep. Not sure what it was with him but he was not ON today. The thing about it was that he’d come right back a rep or two later and make a nice catch in traffic, but you have to catch those that are laid out there for you like that. It looked like the coaches were trying hard to make him the go to guy tonight, as he got the majority of passes thrown his way, but as a whole, his day was not impressive. Shaq Roland caught the two / three passes that were thrown his way with one exception. That was a nicely defended go route from Dylan Thompson that Rico McWilliams was ALL OVER. Buster Anderson caught a couple of short drag routes today, and Carlton Heard had a good practice catching two or three passes during the team drills. Pharoh was going back and forth between running The Wildcat and lining up as a slot back receiver. I didn’t see him thrown to in the team drills today, but he carried the ball several times from the direct snap. Dylan Thompson moved over into the WR Spot (ala The Clemson and Wisconsin games with Shaw).
The Defense stole the show at the practice today. Very clearly outplayed the offense for most of the workout with a couple of players having excellent showings. The one that stood out the most IMO today was Rico McWilliams. Rico was not beaten by any of the WRs during practice, and he was the DB that deflected a pass from Dylan to KJ Brent by reaching around Brent as the ball arrived and batting it in the air where it found TJ Gurley on the deflection. They tired about four times tonight during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 to go deep over McWilliams but he was stride for stride with Jones and Roland.
TJ Gurley was another stand out player on the defense today. He ended up with two picks. One off of Connor Mitch intended for Shamir Jeffery, and the other was the pick on the deflected pass mentioned above. Also, Mason Harris at Defensive End had out outstanding practice today. He was in on a couple of really nice plays on the straight option early in practice where Dylan Thompson tried to pitch the ball to Mike Davis. Harris strung the play out and as soon as Dylan pitched it to Davis, Mason read it and SMOTHERED Davis as the ball got to him. Mason did this twice during practice at different drills and really got some appreciation from Deke Adams and the crowd. Mason is a very quick End, with good footwork and fundamentals during position drills, but desperately needs to put on some weight to go with those skills. He and Cedrick Cooper look like twins right now in body style. Both looked good on the field and during position drills, but they both need to put on some mass to play the DE Spot consistently.
The Linebackers were very active during practice today and kept the underneath stuff to mostly short gains after receptions. Jonathan Walton had a pick of a Perry Orth pass late in the workout.
One closing note. There was an mall eruption of tempers during the 11-on-11 today. Pharoh Cooper carried the ball up the middle out of the Wildcat, and broke a couple of arm tackles at the line. TJ Gurley came up to help shut the play down and gave a pretty hard lick to Coop right as the whistle sounded to end the play. Pharoh didn’t like it too much and got facemask to facemask with Gurley and exchanged some pleasantries. They started to shove each other and Coach Ward had to step between them to get them in check. Those two had a couple of other extra shots at each other during the night as well. Looks like the guys are ready to get after it, after having endured the winter off season.