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Aug. 13, 2005

The South Carolina Gamecock football squad scrimmaged in front of an estimated crowd of 13,000 fans late Saturday afternoon on the Williams-Brice Stadium field. The offense put four touchdowns and a field goal on the board while running approximately 80 plays as they continued their preparations for the season opener against Central Florida on September 1.

The top three quarterbacks, Blake Mitchell, Antonio Heffner and Cade Thompson combined to complete 24-of-35 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns with a pair of interceptions. Mitchell was 12-for-17 for 114 yards with one TD and one interception, while Heffner and Thompson both completed 6-of-9 passes. Mitchell’s touchdown pass was a 10-yarder to Kris Clark. Heffner threw for 137 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes. He found Syvelle Newton open for a 50-yard touchdown pass and had a seven-yard TD pass to Le’Morriell Williams. Thompson logged 39 yards and was picked off once.

Freshman Bobby Wallace was the top rusher on the day, carrying eight times for 23 yards. Mike Davis rushed six times for 16 yards and a score on a one-yard burst.

Newton was the top receiver on the day with four catches for 86 yards and a score. Clark hauled in three passes for 40 yards, while Travis Lee had one catch for 47 yards.

Head Coach Steve Spurrier addressed the media following the scrimmage:

“I guess when you compare it to our first scrimmage in March we looked much improved, but other than that, we have a long way to go. We got a lot of guys who don’t quite know their assignment and a lot of guys who don’t know how to compete. They don’t know how to really compete from snap to whistle. We’ve got a lot of coaching to do before the first game, but we’ve got a little bit of time, so hopefully we can teach 11 guys to compete out there at a championship-type level. But we had a lot of good plays. We had a lot of guys do some good things. I think Blake Mitchell and Antonio Heffner played pretty well. Obviously, vastly improved from last spring. Cade Thompson threw a few good ones here and there. The defense had some good moments and overall they played fairly well.”

“We’ve got some tight ends that need some working catching. We’ve got some work to do there because we’d like to use the tight ends. We like that formation. We need to block people better.”

“Our offensive line looked slow to me. I guess maybe we didn’t run enough to really come off the ball, but we didn’t get much push. I thought out defensive line didn’t get pushed around. The protection was decent most of the day.”

On Blakc Mitchell: “He’s coming around. He’s got a wonderful commitment. He’s trying as hard as he can. I think today gave him a little more confidence. He threw the ball with authority most of the day. It was a good outing for Blake.”

Blake Mitchell:

“I would give my performance a C+. It was average. I have to get better fundamentally. We will need to work hard to eliminate mistakes and all of us are working to get better. I have to work to improve my mechanics, throwing better and getting my timing to improve.

“It was a lot of fun today playing in front of the fans. It gives you a little taste of what real action will be like.

(on the WR): “I tried to find them out there. We need to continue to work on our timing and get better. We have a ways to go, but if we get better everyday we will be alright.”

Syvelle Newton:

“Antonio (Heffner) is a great scrambler. He has good footwork and he made a lot of good passes. The wide receivers all caught the ball great today. They did really well. We have a long way to go to be like the Florida receivers we see on film. (a reporter mentioned a lot of them were first round draft picks): We have to work hard. We aren’t worried about any draft right now. We are working to get ready for the season. We all have to make things happen on the field.

“It’s just good to be out there to make a couple plays today. We still have a long way to go to start the season. Today was fun.”

Aubrey McKay:

(On his fine play today) “I just have to give credit to my defensive line. They were there on the plays and I was able to make a few plays. I am concentrating on getting better each day. We don’t know what the depth chart is right now. (Asked if he would get more looks this week): I might get a different view next week. Everything is open right now. I’m fighting, everyone’s fighting. The depth chart can change. Nothing’s official.”

Chris Tucker:

(on the defensive line): “I feel like we did a good job. We just did what we had to do.”

(on coming into the scrimmage): “I just wanted to try and stay focused, that’s what Coach Nix mentioned to me as well.”

(on tackling in the scrimmage): “Coach just wanted us to wrap them up, try to keep our players healthy, like when we were close to the quarterback, we didn’t want to take them to the ground.”

Antonio Heffner

(On the 50-yard TD pass to Newton): “The defense was in Cover-2 and we had a play on and a read. I looked back and the corner had set his feet, so I went deep.”

“I know Blake is the starter going into the season. I’m just supporting him right now. I’m learning the system and just being Blake’s backup right now. When Coach makes a decision on putting me in, I’ll just try to take advantage of the opportunity and help the team.”

The team will participate in the annual Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday afternoon from 1-3 p.m. at the Colonial Center, then will practice from 7:30-9 p.m. Sunday night. Practices through Wednesday are open to the public.

INJURY REPORT: The Gamecocks had eight players held out of Saturday’s scrimmage including Fred Bennett (hamstring), Noah Whiteside (ankle), Michael Glass (right foot), Sidney Rice (broken left little finger), Taylor Rank (concussion), Nathan Pepper (left ankle sprain), Michael Flint (broken right hand) and Marque Hall (left ankle bruise). Flint will undergo surgery on Tuesday for the injury he suffered in Friday night’s practice.