Defense stands out in USC scrimmage

South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry converted a 43-yard field goal in Saturday's scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium. (File/Wade Payne/AP)

South Carolina’s defense had the better of its offense Saturday, when the Gamecocks held their second official scrimmage of spring practice at Williams-Brice Stadium.

USC’s offense was unable to generate any points until the scrimmage went into overtime situations, with the ball placed on the 25-yard line. From there, Elliott Fry booted a 43-yard field goal, Connor Mitch hooked up with Deebo Samuel on a 29-yard touchdown pass, and Michael Scarnecchia found Matrick Belton on a 5-yard scoring pass.

“I think there was some improvement on the defensive side,” said head coach Steve Spurrier. “The offense didn’t do much at all. But it was good practice. Nobody got hurt. None of the quarterbacks shined too much. It was not encouraging on the offensive side, but we’ve got one more week. Hopefully by the spring game time next week we’ll throw some completions and look like we know what we’re doing on offense.”

The three quarterbacks combined to connect on just 10-of-22 passes on the day for 121 yards with one interception. Jasper Sasser picked off a deflected pass from Mitch for the game’s only turnover.

“Connor Mitch held the ball too much at times and threw late at times, as did all of them,” said Spurrier. “But the protection probably wasn’t all that super at times either. Hopefully we can learn from it. The offense did a lot better yesterday than they did today, but the defense did better than they did yesterday. We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of improvement to do.”

Devin Potter paced the running backs with 17 yards on three carries. David Williams and Rondreas Truesdale each added 15 yards on the ground. Samuel (two catches for 46 yards) and Belton (three receptions for 25 yards) were the top pass-catchers.

“I think we’re getting better (on defense),” said co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “We’re going against a real young offensive front. I think they’ve got two guys that have experience, so we should be doing well against those guys. We’re trying to get the system down. I think the guys are getting better. We haven’t put anything new in for about a week now and that’s a good thing. We’re repeating what we’re doing so hopefully we’ll get better at it. We’re continuing to grow daily.”

Among those players who did not participate due to injury were Sherrod Pittman (leg); Jerad Washington (hamstring); Cedrick Cooper (ankle); Larenz Bryant (liver); Shannon James (hamstring); Gerald Dixon (lower leg); Cody Waldrop (knee); Mike Matulis (knee); Malik Young (ankle); Carlton Heard (hamstring); and Taylor Stallworth (pec).

Spurrier also addressed the impending transfer of backup quarterback Brendan Nosovitch, who had been converted to a tight end last season before returning behind center this spring. Nosovitch had been the fourth quarterback on USC’s spring depth chart.

“He needed to leave. Some players need to leave,” Spurrier said. “We might could have let him go last year when he wanted to go, but I thought maybe he could help the team somewhere. He wants to go play quarterback, he doesn’t care if it’s small-level Division III or whatever. He wants to go play quarterback somewhere, so I hope he can, and we wish him the best. He’s a fine young man. He’s going to stay and graduate, and then go play somewhere, which is a good idea.”


Elliott Fry 43-yard field goal

Deebo Samuel 29-yard pass from Connor Mitch

Matrick Belton 5-yard pass from Michael Scarnecchia


Connor Mitch 4-9-1-77; Perry Orth 4-6-0-29; Michael Scarnecchia 2-7-0-15. TOTALS: 10-22-1-121.


Devin Potter 3-17; David Williams 4-15; Rondreas Truesdale 2-15; Connor Mitch 4-14; Shon Carson 3-7; Perry Orth 1-4; Michael Scarnecchia 1-2; Brandon Wilds 1-(-1); Terry Googer 1-(-6); Darius Paulk 3-(-10). TOTALS: 23-57.


Matrick Belton 3-25; Deebo Samuel 2-46; David Williams 2-8; Jacob August 1-28; Terry Googer 1-10; Devin Potter 1-4. TOTALS: 10-121.