Gamecocks’ passing game struggles to get off ground

The South Carolina football team held its second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium. A few hundred fans were on hand to witness the squad’s 10th practice of the spring.

“We had a pretty good scrimmage,” said head coach Steve Spurrier following the hour long 11-on-11 session. “The offense didn’t throw the ball around as well as we hoped. The receivers didn’t catch it quite as well as we hoped. The protection wasn’t as good as we had hoped. But it was a good scrimmage with a few good plays here and there, but not as consistent as we should be at this time.

“I hope we don’t have to run the ball all the time next year, but if we can’t throw it very well, that’s what we’ll do. We can’t take sacks. Connor (Shaw) must have had four sacks today in 10 passes. He’s got to throw the ball somewhere and get it out of his hands a little quicker. The other quarterbacks were not real accurate at times, but we hit a few here and there. The receivers ran pretty good routes but had a couple drops. It was not all that encouraging as it could have been. The defense did some good things.”

The defense actually got on the board first when senior walk-on Jared Shaw stepped in front of a Dylan Thompson pass and returned it 38 yards for a score.

The offense, wearing the garnet practice jerseys, scored its first touchdown when junior quarterback Andrew Clifford connected with junior wideout Ace Sanders on a 30-yard pitch-and-catch. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner MeEvoy scored on a nine yard run, before sophomore running back Brandon Wilds scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 6-yard burst.

The Gamecock offense put two more scores on the board in an “overtime” situation. First, sophomore receiver Damiere Byrd scored on a five-yard pass from Seth Strickland, then Wilds hit paydirt for the second time, this time on a one-yard plunge.

The quarterback statistics were nearly identical for all five signal-callers, with Shaw leading the way with three completions in five attempts for 40 yards. Senior Kenny Miles was the top rusher with four carries for 52 yards, including an impressive 35-yard draw. Walk-on senior Blair Lowery, who moved from wide receiver to running back this week to add depth at that position, toted the pigskin six times for 35 yards, while Wilds added nine carries for 24 yards. Lowery was the only receiver who caught more than one pass. He hauled in three passes for 26 yards.

The Gamecock defense forced a pair of turnovers. In addition to Shaw’s pick six, junior cornerback Jimmy Legree intercepted Clifford.

The Gamecocks will return to the practice fields on Tuesday, April 3, at 4:15 p.m. All practices are open to the public.

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