April 11, 2008

USC Goes Through 'Okay' Workout Friday

South Carolina practiced for the 12th time this spring with a routine two-hour workout Friday afternoon on the Bluff Road practice fields.

USC is set to practice again Monday night, weather permitting. The annual Garnet and Black game is scheduled for April 19 at 1 p.m.

"Practice was okay," USC head coach Steve Spurrier said. "We did a little situational type stuff. But other than that, nothing much happened. We hoped to scrimmage Monday night, but if the weather is as nasty as their predicting, we may not. So we'll have to wait on the weather.

Following practice, Spurrier and the current Gamecock players participated in the annual Lettermen's Dinner at The Zone inside Williams-Brice Stadium.

"We have a lot of our former players here this weekend," Spurrier said. "It's good to see a lot of our lettermen come back. We're going to have a meal with them up here in the Zone."

Redshirt freshman safety Mark Barnes, a graduate of Richland Northeast High School, missed Friday's practice to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Offensive linemen Heath Batchelor and Terrence Campbell also missed the workout, but for a different reasons. Both players had "some academic issues" they had to take care, Spurrier said.

Quarterback Tommy Beecher and running back Brian Maddox collided in the backfield during the 7-on-7 drill. Beecher banged his elbow and left practice for a time. Chris

While attending the Masters on Thursday, Spurrier spoke with Gary Garcia, the father of Stephen Garcia, who has been suspended until Aug. 15, but Spurrier said the conversation didn't relate to Stephen's case.

"I've already talked to him," Spurrier said. "I don't need to talk to him anymore. We just talked golf and Tampa. We've already talked to Stephen. He knows what he has to do. If he can fulfill his requirements he can be back in August."

MADDOX FIGHTING TOP RB JOB: While Mike Davis will be a senior in 2008, sophomore Brian Maddox is not conceding anything to the former Columbia High grad, even though Davis has far more carries in his career.

"No one deserves (the starting job) until the best player shows up," Maddox said recently. "I'm going to try to be the best player on offense and contribute a lot. Coach Gillespie believes in playing the guy with the hot hand, and Coach Spurrier believes the same."

With Cory Boyd and Davis ahead of him on the depth chart, Maddox didn't get an opportunity to contribute much last season beyond special teams. He had six carries for 14 yards last season.

Maddox acknowledged standing on the sidelines last season was an adjustment for him. But he said he learned a lot watching Boyd and Davis, as well as through experiencing the environments of the different stadiums in the SEC.

"It was definitely a mental challenge getting through last year," Maddox said. "It's tough waiting your turn. But I hung in there and worked hard in the weight room and conditioning. I learned you have to step up and play. I learned a lot watching Cory Boyd last season. He cut on the weakside shoulder a lot, which is what Coach Gillespie teaches us to do. He made defenders miss. He was a very powerful back."

But Maddox also concedes he must improve his game if he wants to experience a significant increase in carries.

"I have to hit the holes a lot more faster," Maddox said. "The tempo of the game here is a whole lot faster. It's not like practice. Everybody is flying to the ball full-speed every play, every down. But I think I've settled in and I'm ready for the SEC."

In high school, Maddox rarely had to block since the ball was usually in his hands. But he's discovered it's a whole different world at the major college level.

"When I got here last year, I found out that blocking is hell," Maddox said. "But I've got it down pat now, I didn't have to block much in high school."

Maddox and Davis will likely be on opposite squads for the spring game.

Since arriving at USC last summer, Maddox has gained a reputation for speaking his mind. It started in high school during the recruiting process.

"It's gotten me in trouble a little bit," Maddox laughed. "I said some things in the paper about Clemson in recruiting that they turned around. But it's all over now. I say what I feel. I always try to be honest."

WILL DIMARCO PLAY TIGHT END?: Steve Spurrier revealed Thursday night in Sumter that Pat DiMarco could be shifted to tight end because of his strong blocking skills.

DiMarco told a small group of reporters following Friday's practice that he had spoken with Spurrier and tight ends coach Ray Rychleski about the possibility of making the move, but nothing is cemented yet.

DiMarco worked at fullback during Friday's practice.

DiMarco has added 15 pounds to his frame and now weighs 245 pounds. He weighed 220 when he arrived at USC last summer.

"All the winter workouts we did, all the lifting, all the conditioning (really helped)," DiMarco said. It makes it so much easier to hit those linebackers."

DiMarco said he's 'definitely' comfortable now playing fullback.

"Sometimes I turn and help the running back on what he's supposed to do," DiMarco said. "Over the break, when we were doing a lot of conditioning, I did a lot of studying my playbook. I studied both the running backs and fullbacks, which helps me a lot because I know where the running back will go and where I need to position myself to block."

DiMarco said last year his pass catching skills were ahead of his blocking skills. But this year, they're about equal.

"This year, with the added weight, I feel more comfortable blocking," DiMarco said. "I'm bigger and stronger and not getting pushed around like last year."

2008 SPRING PRACTICE COUNTDOWN
Practices Held - 12
Practices Left - 3
Next Practice - Mon., April 14, 7:15 p.m.

NOTES:

-- Spurrier attended the Masters on Thursday afternoon but said he wouldn't return this weekend. "We didn't have a particular guy to follow," he said. "We just followed around a few. But I was on the 16th teebox when the guy made the hole-in-one. A couple of the guys with us had never seen a hole-in-one. They were very excited so it was a experience for a lot of people.

-- With Mike Davis, Brian Maddox and Eric Baker, Spurrier said the running back position "is in pretty good shape right now."

-- The first-team wide receivers during the 11-on-11 drill were Larry Freeman, Moe Brown and Joseph Hills. The second team WR's were Freddie Brown, Dion Lecorn and Matt Clements. Hills caught a TD pass during the 11-on-11 period, but dropped another potential scoring throw.


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