Running game excels in USC football scrimmage

Running game excels in USC football scrimmage

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Running game excels in USC football scrimmage

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USC running back Brandon Wilds (22) scores on a 70-yard touchdown run in Saturday’s scrimmage.

USC running back Brandon Wilds (22) scores on a 70-yard touchdown run in Saturday’s scrimmage.

COLUMBIA — South Carolina passed the ball almost exclusively in its scrimmage a week ago.

The Gamecocks introduced the run to the attack on Saturday with much better results.

With senior tailback Brandon Wilds leading the way, USC scored five rushing touchdowns as it moved the ball better against a defense that has dominated throughout fall practice.

“The offense did a lot better today,” said USC coach Steve Spurrier. “We had the ball moving a bit. We had a lot of careless plays, some fumbles and the wide receivers dropped a couple, so we’re still pretty careless out here, but it was encouraging.

“The offense did a lot of good things. Overall, it was very encouraging that the offense was able to move the ball. I think it was a combination of (the line getting better) and the skill guys did better. When you throw on first down, you need to throw a completion. We did that a lot.”

Wilds got things going with a 70-yard touchdown run. He finished with 86 yards on four carries.

“Brandon popped a 70-yarder and nobody could catch him, so that was a good looking play,” said Spurrier. “When we get Brandon out there, he doesn’t get caught from behind very often.”

“We know, if we run the ball, it is going to be hard to stop us,” said Wilds. “With our (offensive) line and our backs — our (offensive) line loves to run the ball. When we run the ball we get five yards.”

Co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke was not pleased with a defense that has been the talk of fall camp.

“We didn’t play with as much passion as we had the other scrimmage,” said Hoke. “That was disappointing. There were some good things, but the overshadowing part was we did not have that true passion.”

While the running game was solid, a starting quarterback did not come any closer to be decided in Spurrier’s eyes.

“Nothing keeps happening,” said Spurrier. “When you look at the stats, they’re all about the same right now.

“Somebody asked me about all these other coaches around the conference. I said ‘they’re all just like us.’ Probably two or three guys — they mostly have just two guys. It would be easy for us to say ‘this is the guy, let’s go,’ but you’ve got to be fair and keep them competing.”

“We’ll know something probably the middle of next week.”

Connor Mitch completed 5 of 10 passes for 71 yards, Michael Scarnecchia was 6 of 10 for 58 yards, Perry Orth 5 of 10 for 56 and Lorenzo Nunez 3 of 3 for 44 yards.

Mitch was picked off twice — once by safety Isaiah Johnson and the other by linebacker T.J. Holloman.

Although at 6-2, 216 pounds Wilds is considered a big back, he is excited to get a chance to showcase his speed.

“A lot of people think I’m a 4.6, 4.5 (40-yard dash) guy,” said Wilds. “But I’m not. I’m 4.4. People thing big backs can’t catch, can’t run fast, but times change.”

NOTES: Defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin (arm) and defensive end David Johnson (knee) suffered injuries during the scrimmage. “Hopefully both of those guys will be ok,” said Spurrier. Those who did not participate in Saturday’s scrimmage were safety Antoine Wilder (right knee sprain), tight end Connor Redmond (back), kicker Joseph Charlton (back) and quarterback Gage Pucci (knee).

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