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March 24, 2007

The University of South Carolina football squad worked out for two hours Saturday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium in its fourth of 15 spring practices. The final half of the practice session was an 11-on-11 drill in front of approximately 3,000 fans, who soaked in the sun and warm weather.

Senior quarterback Blake Mitchell guided the Gamecocks down the field and scored from one-yard out early in the contest, in what proved to be the only score in the hour-long session. Mitchell finished the day by completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards.

Sophomore Tommy Beecher and redshirt freshmen Chris Smelley are battling for the number two position behind Mitchell on the depth chart. Beecher had the better day today, hitting on 5-of-6 passes for 66 yards. Smelley completed 4-of-9 passes for 14 yards and was intercepted once.

The Gamecock defense, led by a pair of sacks from freshman Travian Robertson, was able to put pressure on the Carolina quarterbacks much of the day. Senior linebacker Cody Wells intercepted a pass and sophomore linebacker Vandaral Shackelford recovered a fumble, as the offense turned the ball over twice.

Bobby Wallace was the leading ground gainer, picking up 24 yards on seven carries. Walk-on Calvin Parks was the only other back with positive rushing yards. He carried five times for 11 yards.

Senior Mike West led the receiving corps with three catches for 28 yards. Kenny McKinley added a pair of receptions for 24 yards.

Senior tailback Cory Boyd was held out of the day’s activities with a right hamstring injury. Sophomore wide receiver Freddie Brown suffered a right quadriceps strain early in the practice and did not take part in the 11-on-11 drills. Both players are listed as day-to-day

The Gamecocks are schedule to resume their spring practice schedule on Tuesday, March 27 at 4 p.m. at the Bluff Road practice facility. All practices are open to the public.

Following Saturday’s workout, Coach Steve Spurrier addressed the media:

“The best part about our little scrimmage is that nobody got hurt. Our players do an excellent job of protecting each other and we came out healthy, which is always the most important thing we do when scrimmaging each other.

“The first defense struggled a little bit the first drive when the first offense went down and scored, other than that the defense dominated the scrimmage, which they should. Our defense should get the best of our offense in the scrimmages this spring. We have a lot of players on defense ready to play. Some of those second defensive guys – well they were second today ¬- they’ll probably be first next week. We’re trying to figure out who are best players are. That’s why we’ll play a little bit and go from there and make some changes in the depth chart as we go through spring.

“As far as quarterbacks, I think Tommy Beecher did some decent stuff. Blake had a good opening drive, but didn’t play too much. Chris Smelley struggled out there. We had a good pass rush by the defensive guys, but the offense struggled after the first drive.

“He (Smelley) had pressure on him. He has to get quicker. His decision-making and his thought process has got to speed up. He’s still back at that little private (high) school, he thinks. He just needs to keep practicing and speed up everything.”

“Nick Prochak is going to be an excellent tight end for us, I’m going to predict that right now. He’s a natural. He can catch the ball. He knows how to get open. We may have stumbled into a reliable tight end in Nick Prochak.”

“I tell you what, Ladi Ajiboye, I don’t know if we can block him, and I’m hoping the other teams can’t block him either. When the second D-line got in there, Travian Robertson and Ladi and those guys, they were more ferocious than the first D-Line. Maybe it was who they were going against – who knows.”

PASSING: Blake Mitchell 9-6-0-63; Chris Smelley 9-4-1-14; Tommy Beecher 6-5-0-66.

RUSHING: Bobby Wallace 7-24; Calvin Parks 5-11; Blake Mitchell 2-(-2); Taylor Rank 4-(-2); Chris Smelley 4-(-5); Mike West 1-(-9); Tommy Beecher 5-(-17).

RECEIVING: Mike West 3-28; Kenny McKinley 2-24; Moe Brown 2-17; Bobby Wallace 2-13; Nick Prochak 2-12; Larry Freeman 1-19; Jared Cook 1-17; Alex McGrath 1-7; Taylor Rank 1-6.