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South Carolina football practice observations: In pads with a key player back With Practice Video

South Carolina football practice observations: In pads with a key player back With Practice Video

March 05, 2018

South Carolina was on the practice field on Tuesday morning for its second padded practice of the spring.

Here are a few observations from the three open periods at the start of practice:

▪ With the weather being chilly outside, the Gamecocks took things indoors. The parts of practice that were open were mostly focused on kickoffs, field goals and a blend of ball security (offense) and general fundamentals (defense) drill carousels.

▪ Five star defensive end Zacch Pickens was grouped with the tackles during the last set of defensive stations. The ends group got as big as at least Kingsley Enagbare (6-foot-4, 265 pounds). That might mean something, or might just be where he was placed that day.

▪ How much he plays remains to be seen, but freshman linebacker Derek Boykins sure looks the part as a bigger body. If he can move well, he’ll be able to add something to a group that needed more playmaking.

▪ Wide receiver Shi Smith was back in the thick of things after being limited in the opening spring practice.

▪ Offensive linemen were going through a drill where they blocked while held back with long resistance bands.

▪ The running back group is looking a tad thin with the current situation of A.J. Turner on defense, Ty’Son Williams gone and Rico Dowdle nursing an injury. Lot of work for Mon Denson and the younger backs.

▪ As the team worked on field goal block work, it’s striking what the Gamecocks have on the edge. Since the front is bookended by cornerbacks, that means 6-foot-1 Jaycee Horn on one side and 6-foot-4 Israel Mukuamu on the other. That’s a lot of length/speed if USC chooses to pinch those players in (Will Muschamp said he’d like to see more in terms of kick blocking).

▪ Special teams assistant/linebacker coach Coleman Hutzler looked to be a ball of energy during the morning work. Whether it was getting after his punting group of correcting the technique for ripping off a blocker. Tight ends coach Bobby Bentley also got up close and personal, lining up face-to-face against the punt team to hold up one of the coverage players.

▪ The quarterbacks went through some turnover drills, one of which involved high-stepping over bags while coaches batted at the ball. Watching that, it was clear freshman Ryan Hilinski is a different sort of runner and mover than some of his teammates, perhaps being a little more deliberate in his movements. He’s spoken before about needing to work on his speed/agility/running ability.

▪ The open period ended with quarterbacks and running backs working on various handoff drills, notably zone reads where the quarterback takes a wide running path outside and some pistol looks.

▪ Linebacker Eldridge Thompson was in a yellow non-contact jersey.

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