South Carolina held its first scrimmage of the preseason Saturday.
While there were at least seven Gamecocks held out due to injury, head coach Shane Beamer had plenty to say about the afternoon. Here’s a look at the day’s news and notes:
Spencer Rattler leads first-team offense, Luke Doty coming along
Quarterback Spencer Rattler, as expected, worked with the first-team offense during Saturday’s scrimmage. Beamer said he largely liked what he saw from the former Oklahoma quarterback as he worked the first-team unit down the field in short order on his first drive.
He did note there were moments in which Rattler held onto the ball longer than he’d hope.
“Spencer, I thought, was good,” Beamer said. “He made some really good throws. I think sometimes he’s got to get rid of the ball quicker. He knew he wasn’t gonna get hit, but I told him out there (that) there were some times that he would have gotten hit pretty good out there today. So, he’s got to continue to get rid of the ball better.”
In other quarterback news, Beamer was impressed with the play of last year’s projected starter Luke Doty. The Myrtle Beach High product has spent the bulk of this year behind Rattler, though his head coach noted the improvement in his game from last season to now. Doty was injured during fall camp last year, leading to a lingering foot injury that eventually ended his year.
“That kid has really, really taken another step as a quarterback,” Beamer said. “He’s made some big-time throws. He’s been accurate in all of our practices. He made some big time throws today.”
MarShawn Lloyd, Christian Beal-Smith sidelined
With MarShawn Lloyd and Christian Beal-Smith sidelined due to “foot/ankle” injuries, per Beamer, the rest of the tailback room received ample work in the scrimmage.
Juju McDowell — who spent Friday’s practice running with the first-team offense during the portion open to reporters — and the combination of Lovasea Carroll, Rashad Amos, D.J. Twitty and Dante Miller split time on Saturday.
Beamer impressed with returning receivers
Beamer continued to sing the praises of the returners in the Gamecocks receiver room.
He mentioned both Xavier Legette and Ahmarean Brown among Saturday’s standouts, along with praising the work of Dakereon Joyner. Legette and Brown figure to play bigger roles should injuries to Corey Rucker or Josh Vann linger into the season. Beamer didn’t give specifics on any injuries beyond that they were expected to be short-term issues.
“There’s a lot of talk about some of these new guys that we brought in and rightfully so,” Beamer said. “But I’m excited about the returning guys and the way that they’ve worked and elevated their game this year.”
Gamecocks high on freshman defensive backs
Defensively, South Carolina’s freshman defensive backs earned some attention from their head coach. Beamer mentioned Nick Emmanwori (Irmo) and DQ Smith (Spring Valley), among others, as guys who’ve quickly taken to their roles in the secondary.
“I’m excited about those freshman defensive backs,” Beamer said. “We have got some football players in that group.”
Two players split reps at punter
Specialists Alex Herrera and William Joyce split punting duties during Saturday’s scrimmage. They’re working in place of incumbent starter Kai Kroeger, who suffered an injury shortly before the first week of camp. Herrera is also battling Mitch Jeter for the starting kicking job.
Beamer recognizes family of Phil Petty
Beamer was also briefly emotional during his press conference Saturday, talking about hosting the family of former South Carolina quarterback Phil Petty at practice on Friday.
Petty — who died at age 43 last month — has been memorialized in the Gamecocks’ quarterback room with a wall graphic, though Beamer said he’s unsure if there will be any definite tribute during the season.
“Seeing those two kids — they’re fantastic kids — and losing their dad like that, just to be able to bring them some joy yesterday,” Beamer said, choking up. “... (Petty’s son) McCoy told me when he was was leaving, ‘This is probably the greatest day of my life.’ ”