COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp saw plenty of good things on both sides of the ball during the first Saturday scrimmage of the month.
The scrimmage, which the Gamecocks played inside Williams-Brice Stadium, was their 11th preseason practice workout.
“I think, today, the things you get excited about – we only had two procedure penalties, offensively. We had one pass interference and that was it for 140 scrimmage snaps,” Muschamp said. “We got 50 snaps with our first group, 50 snaps with our second group and 40 snaps for our third group. It was a good, physical day and it was exactly what we needed. We got about 20 snaps on special teams.”
Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley “looked good,” though no statistics were released.
“The defense came out, got a three-and-out, to start the scrimmage. It was good to create that momentum,” Muschamp said. “[Bentley] had a beautiful wheel-route to Hayden [Hurt] and did a nice job on some check-downs on some situational work things that I was impressed.
“I think he continues to progress in his knowledge of what we do and how we do it. We need to pick up our tempo, offensively.”
That also applies to the defensive side of the ball.
“Our tempo between each play needs to pick up, because, obviously, we’re going to start the season, defensively, with two teams that are going to tempo us and I don’t know how quickly we’re playing right now,” Muschamp said. “It’s something we really need to work on next week, sustaining drives on both sides of the ball and keeping our mental focus, taking care of the football offensively and our tempo between plays.”
Defensively, Muschamp said there “some really good hits” during the scrimmage.
“For your 11th day of camp,” he said, “When you’re legs are starting to wear down, that’s good to see.”
Depth remains a concern on the defensive side of the ball. Senior safety D.J. Smith, who led the South Carolina in tackles last season, missed the scrimmage, after the death of his grandfather. Muschamp also told reporters that safety Jaylin Dickerson (shoulder) would be out for the season.
“I do like our first group that we roll out there, but we’ve got to have some guys continue to step up and be more consistent guys,” Muschamp said. “I don’t think it’s ability. I think it’s consistency. A lot of that goes to youth and we’re sort of working through that right now.”
Muschamp is also counting on young players to help provide depth behind his top two wide receivers, Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards.
“[Shi Smith] made some plays today. We missed him on an inside fade route that was a well-thrown ball, but was just a little bit long, but he’s an electric guy that can make plays with the ball in his hands,” Muschamp said. “OrTre [Smith] caught the ball well today and is getting his opportunities. He’s continuing to progress. We need those guys to continue to come on.”
Redshirt freshman kicker Alex Woznick hit a 52-yard field goal that Muschamp said would have been good from 60, but he also missed a kick during the field goal period.
“Parker White hit a 37-yarder, to end the scrimmage, which was a positive. Parker’s done very well. He’s kicked off extremely well,” Muschamp said. “Both guys, I have a lot of confidence in. Parker is our kickoff guy. Joseph Charlton and Michael Almond both have punted extremely well. Joseph’s been more consistent than he’s been since I’ve been here. … Ben Asbury has kind of distanced himself with the long snapping job.”
Muschamp said Samuel and running back A.J. Turner are there “two guys that would go back” to return kickoffs. The punt return job is up for grabs between Shi Smith and cornerbacks Chris Lammons and Jamyest Williams.
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