J Day Observations
It was a beautiful night for football in Jacksonville last night. Kudos to the athletic department for all of the improvements to the spring game experience: concessions, fairly accurate rosters, p.a. announcements. It may take us a while, but we get better and better.
Here are a few players that stood out at the game:
STEVEN COATES. Coates had a great game and looked perfectly comfortable running the offense. This gives the Gamecocks three options heading into next season.
WASHAUN EALEY. The offensive line was essentially the same for both offenses, but Ealey was the dominant runner in the game. He is a franchise player. It was also great to see that he fits in well with his teammates after a bit of an adjustment period last year. The Gamecocks showed one wildcat play- Ealey has a cannon for an arm. He is a franchise player.
GABRIEL CHAMBERS. Every time Gabriel touches a kick or punt return, you feel like he might take it to the house. We hope he returns every kick and punt next year.
JERRY SLOTA. Slota looked like a prototypical fullback and had several nice catches out of the backfield. It could be some good competition between Slota and Ladarius Ellis next fall.
It was exciting to see a few newcomers and redshirst get their first meaningful playing time. Clemson transfer Desmond Brown played a lot at safety. Juco transfer Ked Wolfe was a regular at defensive end wearing #3 (we think its a little early to be giving Calvin’s # out). Brandon Bender had meaningful minutes in the defensive backfield. Finally, Jamaal Johnson, a highly touted player out of Piedmont played a lot of linebacker.
Speaking of linebackers, Michael Wittier had a fine game. He was the J Day quarterback two seasons ago. Look for him to make a major contribution on defense this year.
When will the jinx on offensive line injuries end? It looked like the following offensive linement were all out with injuries: Preston Hatcher, Johnny Ubi, Jr., Tee Harden, Tree Johnstone and we didn’t see Matt Jones. The good news was last year’s pre-season All OVC tackle, Odie Rush, was back. Likewise, it was great to see Blake Burks, of Hoover, out there and playing a little fullback as well. Former offensive lineman, Terrence Pendleton played defensive line.
Other notable players that did not participate in the game presumably because of injuries: Keginald Harris, Dimetrio Tyson, Denzell Bynum, Marques Ivory, Coty Blanchard (baseball), Gavin Ellis, Rashod Byers.