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  1. OCTOBER 18, 2019 by CHRIS THESPURSUPSHOW Quick Hitters From South Carolina Baseball’s Thursday Scrimmage The Gamecocks scrimmaged for three innings Thursday afternoon at Founders Park. LHP Will McGregor and LHP Josiah Sightler started the game and pitched the entire duration of the scrimmage. McGregor had his moments in three innings of work, showing potential for a youngster. The freshman southpaw from TL Hanna HS showed a plus changeup on Thursday afternoon, getting many swings and misses from some of USC’s top hitters. His biggest issue is control. He’ll need to live ahead in the count and locate his pitches down more consistently to see significant innings this upcoming spring. Overall, he has the moxie of a kid who has been at this level for years, something that will carry him far in his first season. Sightler continues to work through the growing pains of being a pitcher, as he looks for a way on the field in 2020. While the breaking ball needs work and you would like to see more velocity, his changeup has shown a lot of promise in my opinion. He needs to work on the “spread” his changeup has (MPH differential between fastball and offspeed). However, there is good movement there and his arm action mimics that of his fastball. OF Noah Myers had a fantastic day on Thursday, starting the scrimmage off with a leadoff double. I could see him fitting very nicely into that leadoff role, as he has shown to be a tough out and a speed demon on the bases. He made arguably the play of the fall in the final inning, robbing Andrew Eyster of extra bases with an incredible catch up against the wall. Myers has had a great fall thus far and I’m putting my money on him to be the Gamecocks starting center fielder on Opening Day. INF Brennan Milone continues to impress me both at the plate and in the field. Milone followed up Myers double with a nice backside double of his own. He showed great patience at the plate and the ability to drive the baseball the other way. He also made a really nice barehanded play on a slow roller. His defense seems to be coming along and he plays the position with confidence and poise. Overall, I’ve noticed a few things USC really needs to work on and things that I’m sure Mark Kingston is preaching to his team. Situation hitting left a lot to be desired Thursday, with the Gamecocks stranding runners in scoring position on more than one occasion. Base running also needs to improve, as South Carolina multiple times had opportunities to score on balls hit to the gap and couldn’t plate the run. Also, although it was just two pitchers, times to the plate have to get better to give USC catches a chance to throw base runners out. Simply put, being 1.8 or slower to the plate isn’t going to give any catcher a chance to make a play and throw out a guy trying to steal. All little things that I know the coaching staff is working on, but still, things that need to be shored up as we move throughout the fall. South Carolina next takes the diamond Sunday, October 20th against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Founders Park.
  2. Gamecocks get commitment from hometown forward Oct. 18, 2019, | sportstalk 6-8 Ja’Von Benson of Ridge View Friday announced a commitment to USC choosing the Gamecocks over the College of Charleston. Benson also had offers from Ohio, Indiana State, UNC-Wilmington, East Tennessee State, Winthrop, SC State, Presbyterian, Upstate and several others. He’s Frank Martin’s second commitment for the 2020 class, both from the metro-Columbia area. This summer 6-10 Patrick Iriel of AC Flora committed to the Gamecocks. Benson was a key cog in Ridge View’s run to a second straight 4A state championship last season. After sitting out his sophomore season following a transfer from Westwood, Benson gave the Blazers 10 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. One of his best performances came in the state championship game victory over Wilson when he totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds on his future homecourt, the Colonial Life Arena. Martin and his staff have watched Benson grow and develop over the years. Their interest intensified during his junior season and into last summer. They delivered him their offer on August 1st after Benson came in for an unofficial visit. “They’ve been watching me over the years and they’ve said that they believe I would be a great fit,” Benson said. “And they said to keep working. I see a great fit. I love the program. Coach Martin likes to feed the post and not put anyone in the post. And he lets people grow. He’s aggressive and that helps you to become disciplined.” Benson took his official visit with the Gamecocks the middle of September. That gave him more of a look inside the program and another opportunity to bond with Martin, the coaches and the players. That visit helped convince him to join the Gamecocks. “I was able to see the bigger picture there. It’s not all about basketball, it’s about getting a degree and being successful in the world,” Benson said. “I love the players. I’m cool with Trae Hannibal. He kind of told me the ins and outs of going to that type of school. I think my official was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.” The Gamecocks have a full roster of 13 scholarship players They have two seniors departing after this season, so both of the 2020 scholarships are accounted for with their two commitments. Here is Benson’s announcement video:
  3. Gamecocks defensive turnaround Oct. 18, 2019 The shift in scheme didn’t change everything for the Gamecock defense. But it was part of it, one part in several changes that have changed the fortunes of the Gamecocks. (VIEW ARTICLE)
  4. Gamecocks defensive turnaround Oct. 18, 2019 The shift in scheme didn’t change everything for the Gamecock defense. But it was part of it, one part in several changes that have changed the fortunes of the Gamecocks. Just playing a third linebacker isn’t revolutionary, but it was a break from Will Muschamp’s standard operating procedure. He’d stuck to the plan of matching three receivers with five defensive backs, something most every team in college football does. Yet at a moment, Muschamp decided to go against that. “Sitting by myself in the Missouri locker room figuring out what we needed to do to get better, and that was just in my mind,” Muschamp said. “Knowing that Sherrod Greene has played better than the other guys we were putting in the game at the time. And we need to adapt some things defensively and make some adjustments.” That adjustment, more of the burly linebacker and less of a fifth defensive back, was a symbolic choice that came along with a subtler adjustment and a return to fundamentals. The Gamecocks were coming off their best defensive performance of the season, and they bettered it in each of the next two games. Three of the shifts that helped change the fortunes of the Gamecocks: THE 4-3 In modern football, nickel personnel, five defensive backs, six linebackers and linemen, is standard. It’s been the base for the Gamecocks basically since Muschamp arrived and well before that. So what was the message when the staff decided Greene should see more time as a third linebacker? “Basically they said, ‘Learn what to do so we can get you on the field,’” Greene said. “That’s what I did. I focused on it all week.” Greene had gone through a trying 2018 season, starting throughout but being plagued by inconsistent play. He suffered a concussion in August and was consigned to a backup role with T.J. Brunson and Ernest Jones at the two nickel linebacker spots. Then the Gamecocks struggled against UNC and Alabama. Muschamp liked what he saw in that Missouri loss (when USC allowed only 4.8 yards per play). That’s not to say the Gamecocks have exclusively gone 4-3. They were about two thirds in that against Kentucky, a team that plays heavier looks anyway, and half 4-3 against Georgia, with nickel/safety Jammie Robinson delivering a strong performance. That three-linebacker look gets more beef on the field and stands up better against the run. It asks more of Greene in space and more of the secondary to back him up. But across two games, the Gamecocks held Kentucky to 3.4 yards per play and a talented Georgia offense to 4.9. Brunson said. “The coaches felt like that was the best way to get the best guys or the better guys on the field at the same time.So I think that it’s working out in our favor.” KEEP IT SIMPLE Another element of South Carolina’s defensive resurgence was a paring down of what’s been asked of players. Usually those outside a program ask, what different things can a team do with scheme? Coaches ask, what works? Muschamp said. “We have narrowed some things down that we feel like our players do extremely well, and when our players feel comfort. And I think sometimes as a coach, you need to be able to take input from your players, and I think that myself, number one, and our staff, number two, have done a really good job of identifying what our players feel comfortable playing. “With a comfort level, you’re going to play faster, and instead of thinking, you’re reacting. And you’ve got to do that on defense. You start thinking on defense with the speed that we face week-to-week, week in and week out, you’ll get burned.” That might mean zeroing in on certain coverages or certain pass rushes the players really like. In that arrangement, the defensive line, which was already playing well took yet another step forward. Between Javon Kinlaw and Kobe Smith wrecking pockets and D.J. Wonnum or Aaron Sterling swooping in from the edges, that group has been crucial in shutting down offenses across the past 120 minutes of play. They’ll get another challenge in a Florida offense built around focusing on the simpler concepts that can be executed to perfection. At the start of this year, this was projected to be Will Muschamp’s best defense. Even after the inauspicious first few games, the advanced numbers, which adjust for schedule, have South Carolina as a top-15 defense. Jones said. “We’ve gained confidence in our in ourselves and our defense more.And that is allowing us to move faster, trusting what we’re seeing now instead of try to do too much. I believe that was the main problem for us at the beginning of the season, just overall trying to do too much. Just do your job.” TACKLE AND MORE TACKLING Good tackling means guys who get hit stay stuck. They don’t bounce off into open space. They don’t run through defenders. They don’t even get that forward fall for 2-3 extra yards. Those little plays add up, and after tackling and correct angles being an issue early in the year, the Gamecocks seem to have stabilized. Not that Muschamp has a great explanation for what’s different. “I wish I could tell you there’s some fancy drill that we’ve done that’s helped us tackle better,” Muschamp said. “But we work on tackling every single day, every single practice. I think some guys have willed themselves to improve a little bit, to want to stick their face in the fan, so to speak, and like it, and wrap up, and have the proper technique.” Sometimes, it’s that simple. They’ve been working on those things since the start of the season. Tackling and getting to the right spots to make those tackles isn’t sexy or dramatic. It’s one of the simplest acts in the game. But delivering those hits with force and standing up runners can change everything for a defense. In this case, tackling issues made a talented defense look not all that good. At least until it got fixed, even if it’s hard to explain. “It’s very relieving because I knew we could do it,” Jones said. “It was there, there’s no question in the beginning of the season that whether we could tackle or not or whether we could hold these good offenses to minimum points. It was no question about that. We just had to find it. Somehow we had to get to it.”
  5. Dakereon Joyner what role will he play Saturday Oct. 18, 2019 Dakereon Joyner was set to take command of the Gamecocks offense Saturday against Georgia, he received a quick message from a member of the team. Center Donell Stanley has been in Columbia going on six years, and he’s not the worst guy to give a little perspective. (VIEW ARTICLE)
  6. Dakereon Joyner what role will he play Saturday Oct. 18, 2019 Dakereon Joyner was set to take command of the Gamecocks offense Saturday against Georgia, he received a quick message from a member of the team. Center Donell Stanley has been in Columbia going on six years, and he’s not the worst guy to give a little perspective. Stanley said. “I just told him we had all the confidence in him. We just got to go out there and ... we know his potential, so he just went out there and executed like he should have.” Joyner ended up doing enough. He didn’t have any big plays, but he produced enough with his legs, hit a key pass here or there and most importantly didn’t have any disastrous plays (no turnovers, sacks, only one small tackle for loss). USC ended up pulling out the 20-17 win. And that was after being limited with a hamstring issue for the previous few weeks. He now enters a week where he has to be ready. Ryan Hilinski only has a sprained knee coming out of a hit that could have been far worse. But he was still limping before that hit, and there’s always a risk in that situation showing it'd ugly head. Muschamp said Joyner isn’t working at receiver at the moment, focusing on quarterback as he’s living life one snap away. His performance came as little surprise to Muschamp. Muschamp said. “He’s got natural leadership ability.He positively affects people around him. That’s who he is, as a person and I think that you can develop that to a certain degree but some people have what I call the it factor and he has the it factor.” Joyner also brings a high degree of loyalty, according to Muschamp. That was delivered in terms of actions with the choice he made before the season. Jake Bentley was the senior starter throughout the offseason. Hilinski took the No. 2 job, jumping an older player in Joyner. In the modern era, a four-star quarterback such as Joyner usually starts looking around, assuming he still wants to play quarterback. Joyner said he did, but he was also ready to do whatever the team did and he wasn’t leaving. Then Jake Bentley got hurt. Joyner was the No. 2, getting gobs of practice snaps and he was working as if he’d have to play. Then he did. Muschamp said added. “You never know when your number is going to be called. That’s the bottom line, and it says something about, obviously, (his mom and his stepdad) great people and raised right. He has all the leadership ability you want, and to be able to have the loyalty to the University of South Carolina to stick it out and see how things are going to go and, not every time adversity strikes you know, take your ball and go home. And unfortunately in our society that’s a little bit about what’s happening.” Muschamp pointed out a mirrored experience in Florida’s Kyle Trask. He didn’t start a game in high school. He didn’t play a game his first two years on campus and saw action in four games in 2018 before a foot injury ended his season. He could’ve left in the offseason as a grad transfer, but instead stuck it out and is now the No. 3 rated passer in the SEC behind a pair of Heisman contenders. If all goes well, Joyner will only play when the staff wants him to, maybe as a change-of-pace passer. In that situation, Hilinski will stay upright and avoid the hits. But Florida sends blitzes at a volume higher than most any team in the country. It might mean Joyner gets called in again. And his teammates are confident. In closing tailback Tavien Feaster said. “He’ll be ready. He comes out there, gives us all every day at practice. He prepares like he’s gonna start every week. That’s all you can ask out of him and when his number is called, he’s going to make plays.”
  7. Friday morning recruiting notes Oct. 18, 2019 USC target WR Semaj James of Tallahassee plans to name a top five soon according to a Thursday afternoon tweet. He camped at USC and Clemson last summer and the Gamecocks have offered. USC offered 2021 WR Jaden Alexis (6-1 185) of Pompano Beach, FL. USC offered 2023 WR Adarius Redmond of Powell, TN. He plans to visit Saturday for the Florida game.
  8. 2021 RHP/INF Owen Washburn of Webster, WI committed to USC Thursday night. Oct. 18, 2019 Perfect Game had this scouting report on Washburn following a 2018 showcase: Primary shortstop, shows quickness to footwork moving towards the ball, shows a feel for mechanics with clean and loose actions which he repeats well, fields out front and funnels into a clean arm action, gets on top of throws and shows carry across the diamond with accuracy on throws. Also pitched, simple side step into a leg lift up above belt; smooth and easy arm action through the back working to a three-quarters release point. Gets tall on backside and shows nice balance over the rubber, repeats well and ran fastball up to 83 mph, mostly true in life with command. Flashed breaking ball with 10-4 shape with short depth at 71 mph. Lefthanded hitter, begins with an even base and utilizes a hanging leg lift trigger for timing in the box, can continue to implement additional shift through lower half moving into contact. Does a nice job of staying compact with swing and shows a handle for the barrel, gets hands extended out front and can work to all fields. Has present bat speed to swing and projects moving forward with added strength.
  9. Recently offered lineman to visit Gamecocks Saturday Oct. 18, 2019, | sportstalk Earlier this week USC offered 2022 OL Camron Gann (6-4 290) of Powell, TN, a suburb of Knoxville. The Gamecocks are the first to offer Gann but more are sure to follow. Gann is still growing and developing, but he already has the power. Last spring he recorded a bench press of 500 pounds and a squat of 300 pounds. Gann, was very happy to get the Gamecocks’ offer and is looking forward to seeing them in action Saturday. “I am extremely excited about the direction the Gamecocks are heading in and what the future holds,” Gann said. “My recruiting process with South Carolina is just now starting. The thing I like most about South Carolina is Will Muschamp. They started recruiting me about a week ago. They like my size, feet, and physicality. South Carolina is high on my list.” Gann said Tennessee and Arkansas also are showing interest in him. He has visited Tennessee. Gann said his teammate, 2023 Adarius Redmond, who picked up a Gamecock offer Thursday, will join him on the visit.
  10. Robinson set to visit Gamecocks this weekend Oct. 18, 2019, | sportstalk USC’s long courtship of CB Jahquez Robinson of Jacksonville, FL takes the next step this weekend as he is scheduled for his official visit with the Gamecocks. He and his parents plan to come in after his game Friday night though he wasn’t clued in on all the particulars since his father has been handling the details with Gamecock recruiter Travaris Robinson. Robinson, who remains committed to Alabama, also has taken an official visit to Oklahoma, and he visited Florida unofficially for the Auburn game. “I want to see the in-game experience versus a top ten opponent and just hang on,” Robinson said. “They knocked out Georgia last week and they’ll need the same type of intensity. And the way their DBs played and the way they’ve been stepping up so far, I really want to see that.” Robinson has been front and center heading up the Gamecocks’ recruitment of Robinson. Will Muschamp also has been very active and Robinson has been talking with both regularly thru the process. “I talked to T-Rob a couple of days ago,” Robinson said. “He has a real good relationship with my trainer. He’s got a good connection with him and I talk to T-Rob and him all the time. I got to talk to Muschamp last night, or night before last. He was telling me about the Vernon Hargreaves story, how Vernon Hargreaves started as a freshman at the University of Florida. He told me I can do the same thing. I can get on the field early with Jaycee Horn and Israel (Mukuamu), and I think that would be one of the best secondaries in the country.” Robinson, like millions of others, was glued to his TV screen last Saturday as the Gamecocks scored the biggest upset of the season with the win at Georgia. Robinson was impressed. “They are kind of in a rebuilding process and I was like, I can be a part of that,” he said. “I just liked to watch how they kept fighting, how Israel was making plays. That shows how coach T-Rob coaches. That meant a lot to me and my pops.” The big elephant in the room with Robinson’s recruiting remains Alabama. While he’s visiting other schools and saying nice things about most of them, no one has knocked the Crimson Tide from their perch. “I feel like Alabama is still number one for me,” Robinson said. “Me and my family and my dad understand that. But along with that, my dad wants me to take my official visits and look at other schools, not just be locked in one just because I committed so early without taking my visits. He wants me to keep an open eye for other schools and be open to other schools. But, Alabama is still number one for me.” One major change with Robinson’s recruitment involves Florida. Following his recent visit there, Robinson told a Florida website the Gators sat second on his list. That is no longer the case. “Honestly, after that visit, I’m not really sure if I’ll be considering them very much just because my dad doesn’t want me close to home because of a recent incident that happened with a friend,” Robinson said referring to the shooting death Wednesday of one of his friends. “He wants me to kind of get out of the state, so I’m more so looking to get out of Florida.” Robinson said he does not have any other visits planned right now, though it stands to reason he would make it back to Alabama for the showdown with LSU in November.
  11. CAROLINA CALLS NOTES: QB Ryan Hilinski, “He’s fine. He’ll start the game, and he’ll play well,” Muschamp said Oct. 17, 2019 The final injury update is good for the South Carolina Gamecocks and Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks coach announced his starting quarterback, Ryan Hilinski, will play this weekend after sustaining a bad-looking knee sprain against Georgia. He’ll lead the Gamecocks against another Top-10 foe in the Florida Gators. Muschamp said. “He’s fine. He’ll start the game, and he’ll play well." The coach said Hilinski was limited in Tuesday practice but took every snap on Wednesday and Thursday. Other injuries Muschamp mentioned included: ▪ Joyner is still sore dealing with a hamstring that’s been nagging. That said, he took all his snaps in practice. ▪ Defensive lineman Keir Thomas, who has missed all season after an ankle infection, could be a week away from returning to practice. Muschamp said Thomas, who started most of 2017 and 2018, is moving around well. That said, they don’t want to rush him. There was some discussion of redshirting the Miami product, but at this rate, he’d need to sit the next three games for that to happen. ▪ Starting right tackle Dylan Wonnum is still a few weeks away from a return after an ankle injury against Missouri. He missed the past two games and a bye week.
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