**Story by Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe**
South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is pleased with the progress he has seen from his team during team spring practice, but said Saturday "we've got a long way to go."
The Gamecocks participated in their eighth practice session Saturday, holding what Muschamp called a "half-practice, half-scrimmage." They ran about 75 live snaps at the end of the session.
"We got a lot of good things accomplished today," Muschamp said. "I was pleased with the tempo and some things we were doing, so we kept on going. We’ve got a long way to go, but we are certainly much improved from where we were.”
Muschamp is pleased with the skill level of his offense, which is led by sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley and has good depth at running back and receiver. But the unit has been hampered by injuries in spring practice.
Receivers Bryan Edwards and Or'Tre Smith have been limited and Randrecous Davis will miss the rest of the spring after sports hernia surgery. Running back A.J. Turner has not practiced because of a hamstring injury.
"We’ve got to get all of our offensive skill all together on the field at once. That’s what’s been frustrating offensively," Muschamp said.
The biggest concern continues to be the defense, which struggled in Muschamp's first season last year. Muschamp is pleased with the linebacker trio of Skai Moore, Bryson Allen-Williams and T.J. Brunson and more depth in the secondary, but wants to see more progress out of the defensive line and the pass rush.
“We need to improve. We need to get better," he said. "We need more fast-twitch up front. We’ve got to get more edge guys."
Muschamp singled out defensive ends D.J. Wonnum, Dante Sawyer and Daniel Fennell and inside lineman Taylor Stallworth, but is looking for more help.
"We’ve got to get more guys we can count on up front," he said. "We’re very thin from a standpoint of experience and guys we feel we can win the SEC East with.”
One bright spot on offense has been Deebo Samuel, who led the Gamecocks in receiving last season.
"I think Deebo Samuel is having an outstanding spring," Muschamp said. "I’ve been extremely pleased with him and how he’s come out and worked.”
Muschamp also singled out backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia, who moved up the depth chart when sophomore Brandon McIlwain announced he was transferring. Scarnecchia, a redshirt junior, missed the 2016 season after having shoulder surgery.
"He can throw the ball extremely well," Muschamp said. "He missed an entire year of taking snaps, reading the coverages and doing all the things you do, so this is really his first year in the scheme and system, but he can really throw it."
Though the team has a long way to go, Muschamp said, he has much more to work with than a year ago when he ran his first spring practice as head coach.
“It’s night and day," he said. "More than anything, we’ve got some depth ... We have more options as far as skill guys are concerned.”