COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina football team worked out again on Thursday morning at the new outdoor practice fields, located at the west end of Gamecock Park.
The quarterbacks and receivers did some extra work following the practice session.
“They need it,” said head coach Steve Spurrier. “These quarterbacks do have the ability to throw the ball. We’ve got to pass block a whole bunch better. (Defensive end) Darius English looked like an All-American out here today. He comes around the corner and we can’t block him. So hopefully, we can improve and give them a little better pocket to throw out of. (The quarterbacks) have not played.
“But they’re all doing well. They do have talent,” he continued. “They have the ability to play, but the quarterbacks are about as good as the people around them. If the line can’t block, if the guys can’t get open, then none of them are going to throw for many yards. Hopefully the guys around the quarterback will give him the opportunity to play well.”
Spurrier said he hopes his offense will be balanced again this season.
“We hope to give our receivers an opportunity to contribute,” he said. “They have some talent too. They need to learn how to play.”
Spurrier conceded that he doesn’t run the offense like he did when he coached at Florida.
“My old offense, I haven’t played in a long time. We don’t come to the ballpark filling the air with passes the way I use to back in the Florida days,” he said.”We had receivers and an offensive line. If we threw three incompletes, we might be right back out there three plays later. (At South Carolina) we’ve got to stay on the field to win some games, and last year when we didn’t, we got beat.”
Transfer safety Isaiah Johnson confirmed that he is running with the first team at free safety, next to Jordan Diggs.
“I’ve been praying and working hard, coming out here every day,” said Johnson. It’s an opportunity that coach (Jon) Hoke gave me. Right now I’m just trying to hold it and be a leader.”
Johnson said the biggest adjustments coming from Kansas and the Big 12 are tempo and learning the cover 2 scheme that Coach Hoke has implemented.
“Everybody is working hard, trying to give a maximum effort,” said Diggs of the defense in the early part of camp. “Nothing is set in stone. Every guy is trying to compete. (The effort) has been at an all-time high. You have guys at every position fighting for reps. I think it’s really good for the defense, the secondary especially. You’ve got guys come out and try to compete on every play.”
Diggs noted the biggest difference in playing strong safety this season is that he needs to be more vocal.
“I have to see the bigger picture and make a lot more checks,” Diggs said. “At Spur, I had the safety making the checks for me and telling me what I needed to do. Like a quarterback, I need to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
Gerald Dixon has missed all of camp while rehabbing after a rod was put in his lower leg.
“I’m doing alright,” said Dixon. “I should be back pretty soon. I’m just waiting to be cleared by (head football athletics trainer) Clint (Haggard).”
Dixon is hopeful to be ready for the season opener against North Carolina on Sept. 3. “I know the defense hands down, it’s just getting in (playing) shape,” he said.
In addition to Dixon, those players who were held out of Thursday’s practice included safety Antoine Wilder (right knee sprain), tight end Connor Redmond (back) and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (pec muscle).
The squad will have another closed practice on Friday at 8:30 a.m. before holding a scrimmage on Saturday.
Saturday’s scrimmage will be held in Williams-Brice Stadium and will be open to the public. Gates on the west side of the stadium will open at 4 p.m. for the 5 p.m. practice session. Seating will be available in the lower bowl on the west side of the stadium only.
The concession stands will be open on the west main level. Bags will be checked at the gates and fans will be limited to one bottled water per person. Parking will be available in Gamecock Park (Premium North, Premium South and Quad 1) beginning at 3:30 p.m.