COLUMBIA – South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney played just two series in the Gamecocks’ hour-long scrimmage Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium.
But in Clowney’s short time on the field Saturday, the All-American defensive end proved to be such a disruptive force that defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles almost felt sorry for the Gamecock offensive linemen -- almost.
“If (Clowney) wants to get to the quarterback no one is going to stop him,” Quarles said. “You could tell he wanted it today. (The offensive line) shouldn’t feel that bad because when he wants to make a play, he’s going to make a play.”
Although there were no official defensive statistics released after the scrimmage, Clowney was unofficially credited with 1½ quarterback sacks and another quarterback pressure in less than 10 snaps against the Gamecocks first team offensive line.
“Obviously, we acted like we didn’t even try to block Clowney today,” said USC head coach Steve Spurrier. “I don’t think we blocked him one time. We acted like we were afraid to block him. Hopefully, he’s that good, but I’ve seen other people block him. He doesn’t always get to the quarterback every play like he did today.”
South Carolina defensive coordinator hopes that Clowney’s performance was just a preview of things to come the rest of the season.
“Hopefully Jadeveon makes it that tough on everybody,” Ward said. “He’s a special athlete. We talk about him all the time, but he deserves the praise.
“I thought the guys flew around out there. We’ve got some pass rushers here. Everyone thinks it’s just Jadeveon, but we’ve got some guys that can get to the quarterback. Hopefully, we can do that during the season.”
The Gamecocks were picked No. 6 in the Associated Press’ preseason poll Saturday morning -- the highest in school history. But the Gamecocks offense looked nothing like a unit on a top-10 team. The anemic Gamecocks managed just two touchdowns in 13 offensive possessions and committed two turnovers.
“The offense had a lot of backwards plays and a lot of penalties,” Spurrier said. “It was disappointing for a lot of the guys, but some of them competed. Some of them didn’t compete very well. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of soft guys.
“Our pass protection stinks right now. We can’t hardly get a ball off. Our offensive line wasn’t very good today. We’ve got to get better at that tackle position.”
After getting sacked twice during the first series, starting quarterback Connor Shaw bruised the thumb on his throwing hand when he hit the helmet of a defensive player on his follow through. Shaw did not play again and had ice on his hand during the scrimmage. The injury did not appear to be serious. Shaw was just 2-for-6 for 25 yards with an interception.
“He bruised his thumb a little bit,” Spurrier said. “He caught a helmet or shoulder pad. Our pass protection wasn’t very good when Connor was in there.”
Shaw was hardly alone with his struggles in the passing game. The four other quarterbacks didn’t enjoy much more success either. Dylan Thompson, who took most of the snaps with the first team, was 3-of-8 for 47 yards.
“Both of them have to get rid of the ball,” Spurrier said. “They’re out there scrambling around and they need to learn where to get rid of it quicker.”
Brendan Nosovitch was 5-for-12 for 82 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Walk-on Perry Orth was 4-for-7 for 23 yards and freshman Connor Mitch connected on 2-of-4 passes for three yards.
“It was a little bit of a step back for the offense, but the guys didn’t come ready to play,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know if some guys went out partying last night or not. Some of them were not ready to compete today and that’s what you look for as coaches. Some of them were pretty sorry today.”
One of the few bright spots offensively was true freshman wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, who caught two passes for 45 yards. Nosovitch found Cooper on a 35-yard completion and two plays later hit Cooper again on a 10-yard TD pass. Cooper, a true freshman, was moved from defensive back to wide receiver last week.
“We got to get him out there more, he can catch the ball,”Spurrier said. “Looks like he can make some plays. We’re dropping a lot of balls and we can’t make the tough catch right now. He’ll have a chance to work his way up the ladder in practice.”
Mike Davis was the top rusher with four carries for 53 yards, including a 23-yard burst. Brandon Wilds added 20 yards on three carries. Jody Fuller led the receivers with five receptions for 49 yards.
Jamari Smith, who made the transition to cornerback earlier this week, and junior college transfer Ronnie Martin each intercepted a pass during the 50-minute scrimmage.
Two walk-ons, fullback Connor McLaurin and cornerback Sidney Rhodes, had been rewarded with scholarships for the 2013-14 school year.
Kadetrix Marcus (left knee sprain) and Devin Washington (concussion) joined the list of injured players that includes Bruce Ellington (hamstring), Rory Anderson (hamstring), Chaz Sutton (foot sprain), Cedrick Cooper (dislocated elbow), Kyle Morini (dislocated elbow), Gerald Turner (ankle sprain), Mike Matulis (shoulder), Cody Gibson (knee) and James King (foot).
Ellington took part in some post-scrimmage drills, catching passes for several minutes. Ellington has been out for more than a week.
“I’m getting there,” the former Berkeley High School star said.
David Williams 1-yard run (Landon Ard kick)
Pharoh Cooper 10-yard pass from Brendan Nosovitch (Ard kick)
PASSING: Brendan Nosovitch 5-12-1-82, 1 TD; Dylan Thompson 3-8-0-47; Connor Shaw 2-6-1-25; Perry Orth 4-7-0-23; Connor Mitch 2-4-0-3. TOTALS: 16-37-2-180, 1 TD.
RUSHING: Mike Davis 4-53; Brandon Wilds 3-20; David Williams 5-12, 1 TD; Shon Carson 3-11; Jody Fuller 1-8; Connor Shaw 2-1; Brendan Nosovitch 1-0; Connor Mitch 1-(-5); Dylan Thompson 2-(-8); Perry Orth 2-(-8). 24-84, 1 TD.
RECEIVING: Jody Fuller 5-49; Pharoh Cooper 2-45, 1 TD; Jordan Diaz 2-3; Kwinton Smith 1-22; Shamier Jeffery 1-21; Damiere Byrd 1-21; Jerell Adams 1-12; Connor McLaurin 1-5; Kelvin Rainey 1-3; Shon Carson 1-(-1).