South Carolina conducted its first scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium, and as usual, it was a mixed bag of results.
Quarterback Dylan Thompson and the first-team offense looked solid in limited reps, while the defense stymied the running game but gave up several big plays in the passing game. It's about what Steve Spurrier was expecting.
"Our D-line stopped the run very well," Spurrier said. "Our offense didn't run the ball very well at all. Quarterbacks hit a few here and there, but overall pretty sloppy. Everybody got to play a bit and nobody got hurt, so that's always good."
Thompson was sharp, especially early. He was 9-of-15 passing for 114 yards and a 3-yard scoring pass to Jerell Adams on the opening drive of the scrimmage. On that opening drive, the senior was 5 for 7 for 70 yards. He had a 24-yard completion to Pharoh Cooper and connected with Shaq Roland on two passes for 31 yards.
That was the first of two scoring drives directed by Thompson. Shon Carson capped another drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
"He did pretty well," Spurrier said of Thompson. "He did it about the way we've practiced. He's ready to go."
The battle for the No. 2 quarterback position might have gotten closer. Connor Mitch and Perry Orth each performed well, but Orth had two scoring passes - a 55-yard strike to Cooper and a 15-yard toss to Deebo Samuel - to complete the four scoring drives by the offense.
Orth led the way by going 9 of 13 for 147 yards and two touchdowns, while Mitch was 6 of 9 for 52 yards.
Spurrier understands he has nearly three full weeks before he has to decide who would be the No. 2 signal-caller if Thompson is injured or struggles.
"We don't have to make that decision until probably game time, so we'll let them keep competing for it," Spurrier said. "I don't know who would go in there. Probably both of them. When the first one messes up, the other would go in. They could be co-No. 2's. We have a lot more practice time to hopefully find that second guy."
The passing game accounted for 344 yards, but the running game never got on track and totaled just 1 net yards rushing on 24 attempts. Mike Davis had four carries for 11 yards, but with the sacks factored in, it was a dismal morning for the rushing.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward still wasn't pleased with the overall performance. The young secondary dropped several interceptions, was flagged a couple of times for holding or pass interference and gave up huge chucks of passing yards. Senior Brison Williams played limited snaps at cornerback, and that gave the four freshmen who will probably factor heavily into the rotation a chance to get plenty of live action. Al Harris Jr. has been taking a lot of first-team reps, with Chris Lammons and Wesley Green getting ample opportunities as well. Holdovers Rico McWilliams and Jamari Smith are also in the mix.
"We played all right against the run, but we've got to play better against the pass," Ward said. "Too many big plays. Young and old, we have to get better. We have to catch the ball. We've got to be able to get off the field. There were some third-down situations they had where they stayed on the field. We've got to eliminate the holding calls that gave them first downs. Those are the plays that get you beat."
PASSING: Perry Orth 9-13-1-147, 2 TD; Dylan Thompson 9-15-0-114, 1 TD; Connor Mitch 6-9-0-52; Michael Scarnecchia 3-7-0-31. TOTALS: 27-44-1-344, 3 TD.
RUSHING: Mike Davis 4-11; Brendan Nosovitch 1-9; Darius Paulk 3-5; Brandon Wilds 2-4; Devin Potter 2-4; Shon Carson 5-1, 1 TD; Connor Mitch 1-(-4); Perry Orth 1-(-7); Michael Scarnecchia 5-(-22). TOTALS: 24-1, 1 TD.
RECEIVING: Deebo Samuel 3-45, 1 TD; Shaq Roland 3-44; Damiere Byrd 3-28; Brandon Wilds 3-25; Pharoh Cooper 2-80, 1 TD; Jerell Adams 2-22, 1 TD; Carlton Heard 2-14; K.J. Brent 1-17; Kane Whitehurst 1-15; Shamier Jeffery 1-14; Shon Carson 1-12; Jacob August 1-10; Drew Owens 1-7; Nick McGriff 1-4; Rod Talley 1-4; Darius Paulk 1-3. TOTALS: 27-344, 3 TD.
Jerell Adams 3-yard pass from Dylan Thompson (Elliott Fry kick)
Shon Carson 7-yard run (Landon Ard kick)
Pharoh Cooper 55-yard pass from Perry Orth (Elliott Fry kick)
Deebo Samuel 15-yard pass from Perry Orth (no PAT attempted)