COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur) - Head coach Steve Spurrier decreed before the season started that he wanted the team to be a little more physical and, true to his word, he has taken steps to ensure that happens. Immediately following the pre-practice stretching routine and a few position drills, Oklahoma drills commenced.
If unsure what Oklahoma drills are, you're forgiven as those are a rare sight at Gamecocks football practice. They're physical, one-on-one battles pairing offense versus defense. The defensive player's job was to get to knock the running back to the ground or outside the narrow corridor marked with pads laying on the ground while the offensive player's job was to clear a path for the ball carrier.
It was a physical, competitive drill drawing shouts of triumph from the winning side and groans of misery from the losers after each battle.
The drill got the juices flowing of both the players and coaches and sparked an enthusiastic two hour workout at the Proving Grounds practice field.
"It was fun. It kind of set the tempo and the tone for practice," defensive line coach Deke Adams said. "I feel like today was a great practice and we got after it early. It was good to see."
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was happy with what he saw out of his players, which included all players, during the drill. The Gamecocks are supposed to have one of the top offensive lines in the SEC this season and he thought his group of linemen stood tall against the opposition.
"I thought the defensive line really came off the ball and showed that we can win our gap, beat the man in front of us," Ward said. "We feel like we have good football players and we're going to be sure we practice toughness. Sometimes you need to change things up to do that."
Spurrier has always erred on the side of caution in practice rarely wanting offensive players to even be hit, let alone tackled to the ground, except during scrimmages. Spurrier may know what he's doing as redshirt freshman David Williams suffered a minor knee injury in the drill and sat out the rest of practice.
While the drill wasn't a good one for Williams, it created an inspired group of football players for the rest of the night.
"(Spurrier) wanted to start it out, do some Oklahoma, and get the tempo going," Adams said. "He wanted to get some toughness going and I think it was great. We haven't done it since I've been here, but he's done it in the past. It was good for us."