COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - All-America defensive end Jadeveon Clowney put on a show and quarterback Connor Shaw made it back on the field as South Carolina opened football practice Friday night.
With expectations higher than ever, the Gamecocks were loose as they started drills. Several hundred people turned out, cheering loudly when Clowney stepped on the field and again when he flipped over a blocking sled.
Shaw was South Carolina's starter for most of last year's 11-2 season and practiced for the first time since undergoing foot surgery at the end of 2012. He says he hasn't felt this fresh since he stepped on campus.
Coach Steve Spurrier wasn't as impressed. He said the Gamecocks have a lot of work to do to get ready for the opener against North Carolina. Following the two-hour workout in helmets and shorts, Spurrier pronounced the practice as "just so-so. It wasn't anything special."
Spurrier is beginning his ninth season in Columbia.
"Usually after the first one I always talk about how fast the team is," he said. "The team is in good shape. There's no question our strength coaching staff has done a super job with them throughout the summer. We've got a ways to go. It wasn't anything spectacular. Nothing special happened. We've got a ways to go and we need a lot of practice."
"I figured there would be a good crowd," said Spurrier. "We're rated the highest preseason ever, so there's a little enthusiasm. Hopefully we can live up to it."
Expectations are high heading into this season.
"It's been very similar to the last three years," noted Spurrier. "You want your expectations up there. You want the guys to expect to have a good team. We'll be very disappointed if we don't. But we can have a disappointing team if we don't really prepare and get ready to play everybody."
Players missing day one of training camp were wide receiver Shaq Roland and tight end Jerrell Adams. Both players were not allowed to participate due to academic reasons. The head ball coach said after practice hopefully they both learn to go to class better. He expects Roland and Adams to be in attendance at practice Saturday.
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