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Aug. 12, 2006

The South Carolina Gamecocks took advantage of the unseasonably mild temperatures as they held their first scrimmage of the season at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday in front of an estimated crowd of 4,500 fans. The offense churned out 70 plays in a little more than an hour late in the afternoon.

“A lot of them did pretty well today,” said Head Coach Steve Spurrier of his squad following the workout. “We’re trying to find out who can play their assignment the best and go from there. We had some good plays offensively and had some good plays defensively. The best part is nobody got hurt.”

True freshman quarterback Chris Smelley was one of the brighter spots for the Gamecocks. Playing for the first time at Williams-Brice, the Tuscaloosa, Ala. native completed 10-of-17 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. His scoring passes went to senior wide receiver Noah Whiteside from four-yards out, a 46-yard completion to redshirt freshman running back Taylor Rank and a 24-yard strike to redshirt freshman O.J. Murdock.

“Chris threw the ball around pretty well,” acknowledged Coach Spurrier. “He’s got a knack that when he’s in scrimmages the ball goes down the field. He made a couple of 3rd-and-10s there in his first drive and went on and scored. His group scored about every time. That was encouraging. He’s getting close to understanding what we’re trying to do.”

Incumbent quarterback Blake Mitchell also looked sharp on Saturday, completing 9-of-12 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The junior from LaGrange, Ga. hit Lanard Stafford on an 8-yard scoring play, then connected with Sidney Rice on a 25-yard touchdown pass.

“Obviously Blake is way ahead of all the other guys knowledge-wise,” noted Coach Spurrier. “Blake is where he can make some audibles now, so we’re farther along offensively.”

Redshirt freshman Cade Thompson also saw action at quarterback, completing 6-of-14 passes for 55 yards. Senior Brett Nichols saw very brief action, while redshirt freshman Tommy Beecher was held out with a left thumb injury. Senior Syvelle Newton took a few snaps at quarterback and did not attempt any passes, although he had a nifty 16-yard carry in his lone rushing attempt. Overall, the quarterbacks completed 25-of-43 passes for 375 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

“How about that play that (Syvelle) made? When he gets the ball in his hand, he’s a different guy. That little package with him in the shotgun is something we need to do,” said Coach Spurrier.

Thirteen different receivers hauled in at last one pass, with redshirt freshman O.J. Murdock atop the list with three catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Cory Boyd, Noah Whiteside and Bobby Wallace had three catches apiece, while Rice, an All-America candidate, made two catches for 27 yards.

The running game struggled for much of the day, with sophomore Bobby Wallace leading the way with seven carries for 31 yards and a touchdown.

“We didn’t run extremely well,” Coach Spurrier said. “Hopefully we have a better defense against the run (this year).”

Defensively, freshman linebacker Rodney Paulk made the play of the day, picking up a fumble on one hop and toting it 21 yards to paydirt. Sophomore linebacker Dakota Walker and freshman cornerback Captain Munnerlyn logged interceptions.

Several players in addition to Beecher were held out of the scrimmage due to injury, including running back Mike Davis (foot), fullback Clark Gaston (mild concussion), safety Brandon Isaac (hamstring), linebacker Gerrod Sinclair (right knee), wide receiver Leon Gamble (right thumb) and safety Doug Peterson (thigh). Tight end Andy Boyd (right shoulder) and wide receiver Mike West (left hamstring) were injured during the scrimmage.


Rodney Paulk 21-yard fumble return

Noah Whiteside 4-yard pass from Chris Smelley

Lanard Stafford 8-yard pass from Blake Mitchell

Ryan Succop 50-yard field goal

Taylor Rank 46-yard pass from Chris Smelley

Ryan Succop 37-yard field goal

Bobby Wallace 8-yard run

Sidney Rice 25-yard pass from Blake Mitchell

Charlie Carpenter 19-yard field goal

O.J. Murdock 24-yard pass from Chris Smelley

Charlie Carpenter 47-yard field goal


Chris Smelley 10-17-0-173, 3 TDs; Blake Mitchell 9-12-1-147, 2 TDs; Cade Thompson 6-14-1-55 0 TDs; TEAM 25-43-2-375, 5 TDs.


Bobby Wallace 7-31 1 TD; Syvelle Newton 1-16; Cory Boyd 6-7; Lanard Stafford 2-5; Taylor Rank 1-(-1); Chris Smelley 2-(-5); Brett Nichols 2-(-23); Cade Thompson 6-(-58); TEAM 27-(-28) 1 TD.


O.J. Murdock 3-69 1 TD; Cory Boyd 3-35; Noah Whiteside 3-23 1 TD; Taylor Rank 2-47 1 TD; Sidney Rice 2-27 1 TD; Marquise Brown 2-26; Paul Haile 2-11; Kenny McKinley 1-33; Mo Brown 1-26; Mike West 1-20; Jared Cook 1-18; Lanard Stafford 1-8 1 TD; TEAM 25-375 5 TDs.