South Carolina’s spring game was played Saturday, Will Muschamp not even willing to wait for the final practice to stage his team’s public scrimmage. The Gamecocks still have two more sessions this week before wrapping up their official spring work.
So, why the big hurry in Columbia?
Muschamp believes finishing earlier gives his injured players more time to heal for fall. He also likes the idea of players still being around a campus environment for a few weeks after spring drills conclude. Whatever you might think of his reasoning, after South Carolina moved its spring game earlier last season, and then went a surprising 9-4, it’s hard to argue with the result.
Being in a rush seems to be an appropriate theme for South Carolina, considering its starting quarterback skipped his senior year of high school to come eventually take over the team’s offense. Additionally, 13 members of this year’s signing class enrolled early for spring and some got a chance to show their skills in Saturday’s game. Highly-touted quarterback Dakereon Joyner was the most scrutinized of the group, but others like safety RJ Roderick and cornerback Israel Mukuamu appear likely to make an earlier impact.
Roderick intercepted a pass and Mukuamu looked good in coverage. With three starting jobs open in the secondary, both of them might see meaningful time this fall. Linebacker Rosendo Louis, another early-enrollee, led the Gamecocks with five tackles and had an overall impressive day despite getting burned for a touchdown once in coverage on AJ Turner.
Joyner and redshirt freshman Jay Urich each participated under unusual circumstances. While returning starting quarterback Jake Bentley and backup Michael Scarnecchia were off limits to defenders during their playing time, the two youngsters were completely live so they could get a true game day feel. Both showed good mobility, but each was intercepted once. Joyner also fumbled twice.
After the game, Muschamp officially declared Scarnecchia the backup. That’s not a surprise since he held the role last season, but also made clear the young guys have plenty of work to do before the fall.
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