COLUMBIA, S.C. — For South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, there was some good, bad and ugly in the annual Garnet & Black Spring Game.
The Black team, which featured the offensive starters, walked away with the win on Saturday afternoon in Williams-Brice Stadium, 35-24.
Sophomore running back Rico Dowdle showed a blend of power and speed in limited action, but it was Ty’Son Williams who stole the show in the first half, which mostly featured the two first-team units squaring off against one another.
Dowdle’s small sampling of highlights included running over freshman safety Jaylin Dickerson. Just a few plays later, Dowdle grabbed a swing pass and juked his way past junior cornerback Rashad Fenton for 16 yards. Dowdle finished the game with 3 receptions for 30 yards.
Williams rushed 11 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, living up to all of the good things that have been said since arriving last summer as a transfer from North Carolina.
The sophomore showed tremendous burst, turning the corner and getting upfield with ease on a couple of runs. But when he needed to be patient, he was. Williams, like Dowdle, is a well-rounded runner.
Defensively, South Carolina’s first team had trouble generating pressure on quarterback Jake Bentley, who completed 19 of 31 passes for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns, 2 of which went to Bryan Edwards.
The touchdown throws from the sophomore quarterback to the sophomore wide receiver were beautiful, touch throws. Bentley was accurate throughout the afternoon, making good, quick decisions and seemed to have complete command of the offense.
Bentley threw from mostly clean pockets, feeling pressure only on occasion. While there’s reason to be excited about that, there’s the flip side.
If you’re coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson, there’s just as much reason for concern. They need pass rushers. ASAP. But it’s not like that wasn’t already apparent before Saturday.
Perhaps that makes the sell a little easier to 5-star defensive end Xavier Thomas, who was among the slew of recruits watching inside Williams-Brice Stadium.
Sticking with that side of the ball: Senior safety D.J. Smith had the hit of the day, which he delivered in the first half on Edwards, who caught 4 passes for 111 yards. During the play, senior cornerback Jamarcus King suffered an arm injury, which ended his day.
Skai Moore was back in action, after sitting out all of 2016 with a neck injury. After his first tackle of the game, the crowd gave him one of the louder ovations of the afternoon.
With 12 seconds to play, freshman WR OrTre Smith caught a 42-yard pass from former high school teammate Bailey Hart.
The South Carolina punters uncorked some strong punts. Michael Almond knocked a 41-yard punt in the first half inside the 20. Joseph Charlton landed 1 of his 2 first half punts inside the 20, too.
Freshman kicker Alex Woznick converted 3 field goal attempts (47, 48, 50) in the first half.
The following players who were not dressed:
- OL D.J. Park
- CB Chris Lammons
- Buck Griffin Gentry
- OL Sadarius Hutcherson
- RB A.J. Turner
- WR Randrecous Davis
Davis and Turner, of course, were limited throughout the spring and not expected to play.