Scrimmage observations: First-team offense impressive, some surprises in backfield

Scrimmage observations: First-team offense impressive, some surprises in backfield

By Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe

Gamecock fans got their first look at the South Carolina football team during an open scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium Monday night.  

After about an hour of positional drills, the first- and second-team offenses ran about 40 plays each during both full-field and red-zone situations. About 2,000 fans showed up to watch the only open practice session of Gamecock training camp. 

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Starting quarterback Jake Bentley ran the first team, while backup Michael Scarnecchia ran the second. Freshman Jay Urich and others ran limited plays with the third team. 

The first and second teams ran most of their plays surrounded by blaring crowd noise, while at other times music from a DJ was playing. The Gamecocks will use a DJ during home games this season in addition to traditional music from the marching band. 

The teams ran mostly 11on-11 drills with no tackling. 

Here's some observation from the two-hour practice and scrimmage: 

• A.J. Turner was the first back taking reps with the first-team offense and got a lot of time with starting quarterback Jake Bentley's group. Mon Denson, who we have heard has looked good in camp, also got some time with the first team during its first couple of drives. 

Rico Dowdle, last year's starter, was the third back to join the first team. Ty'Son Williams, who is expected to get carries in a three-back rotation, played mostly with the second team and didn't join the first unit until it's final drive. Denson also got some reps with the second team 

• Bentley looked sharp, connecting with multiple receivers and throwing a few TD strikes during red-zone drills. He connected twice on end zone throws to true freshman Shi Smith — one on a slant, and another on a perfect toss over a defender's head across the middle of the field. 

Bentley also hooked up with starters Deebo Samuel and tight end Hayden Hurst on red-zone throw into or toward the end zone. 

• Backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchi was impressive at times, but also inconsistent, overthrowing receivers and missing on several throws. 

He connected with Samuel in the end zone during red-zone drills. 

• The most impressive receiver on the second team was true freshman OrTre Smith. Scarnecchia  and Smith hooked up four times, including a great grab by smith on a tough sideline route. Scarnecchia also completed passes to freshman receiver Chad Terrell and tight ends Kiel Pollard and Evan Hinson. 

• Corner back Rashad Fenton was impressive on defense. The junior corner back picked off one of Bentley's passes, broke up another pass to Samuel and defended another Bentley pass to Samuel. 

LB T.J. Brunson also had an interception against the second-team defense. 

• Malik Young and Dennis Daley continued to rotate at left tackle. The two appeared to split reps with the first team, though Daley limped to the sideline late in the session. 

• Freshman corner back Jamyest Williams, who is expected to get playing time, started with the first team and got reps with both the first and second teams.