COLUMBIA, SC - The University of South Carolina football team held its eighth practice of fall camp on Saturday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium. The squad used the final portion of the practice session to scrimmage on the game field for the first time this fall.
"It was the first time in the stadium for a lot of our young guys, so that was exciting," said head coach Will Muschamp following the two-hour workout. "We have eight practices in. I think you take our first units on offense and defense and a core group of special teams players and I think there's some really good things happening. As we continue to matriculate down our roster, there are far too many inconsistencies occurring through eight days and we have to continue to improve that. Camp is all about conditioning the mind, hardening the mind for the season, battling through fatigue, heat, soreness. We need more guys with energy and urgency on our football team.
"We had a half-practice, half-scrimmage (today). We had about 100 snaps with no procedure issues, which was great," noted Coach Muschamp. "We were really good in the red zone by our offense. We scored on four-straight possessions, which was outstanding. About 50-50 on third down. We've continued to make those two points of emphasis for our team – red zone and third down. We'll start with some one-minute stuff tomorrow and gets some more scrimmage snaps on Monday. That's where you really start to make your evaluations and determinations of where you are as a player and where we are as a team."
On the injury front, freshman defensive lineman Tyreek Johnson tore his ACL in a non-contact situation earlier in the week. Senior special teams contributor Caleb Kinlaw also suffered a knee injury. Both are likely out for the season. Freshman defensive lineman Jesus Gibbs had a scope on his meniscus and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. Redshirt freshman defensive back Tavyn Jackson has had some heat issues and has had to miss a few days. Freshman linebacker Rosendo Louis Jr. is expected to be cleared Wednesday after injuring his shoulder in a non-contact situation. Freshman offensive lineman Wyatt Campbell has been slowed with a knee injury and has missed some practice time as well.
Safety remains a concern for the third-year head coach. "We're too inconsistent," lamented Coach Muschamp. "Steven Montac has had a really good camp at safety. Other than that, we're struggling. Nick Harvey repped at safety some. He's also played corner and nickel. J.T. Ibe has still not been cleared. We're not very good at that position right now. At the safety position, if you make a mistake, the other band is playing. It's a critical mistake when you make one. We've got to heighten our sense of urgency, awareness and production. We've got to have more production from those positions."
The starting field goal kicker remains a three-man competition between incumbent Parker White, graduate transfer Shane Hynes and Alexander Woznick. "Those guys are all battling it out," said Coach Muschamp. "(They've) all had their moments. We need to be more consistent. We've ended four or five practices with them needing to make a field goal. That's going to continue through camp."
Junior running back Rico Dowdle has looked good in camp. "He had a really good day yesterday," noted Coach Muschamp. "He was our player of the day offensively. He's in probably the best shape he's been in since he's been here. I've been really proud of how he has responded to our challenges to him to take the next step. Competition helps that too. Mon Denson has looked good, A.J. Turner has looked good, Ty'Son Williams has looked good. All four of those guys have had their moments in camp. That's what competition does for you."
The Gamecocks will spend 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon at the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility, where they will take part in the annual Fan Appreciation Day presented by Colonial Life.
"It's a great day," noted Coach Muschamp of the annual fan event. "We've got the most positive supportive fan base in the country and we appreciate them. I know our guys are excited to spend the afternoon with them."
The team is scheduled to practice again on Sunday afternoon and is slated to scrimmage in the stadium again on Monday.