The first spring practice at South Carolina is over for co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke and he’s optimistic the unit has improved after posting promising results in Saturday’s spring game.

“(Spring practice) was good for me personally to get to know the players and watch the staff interact and teach,” Hoke said. “We’ve got great teachers. Watching the players get better every day was a big plus. We improved from an effort standpoint, an assignment standpoint and a technique standpoint.

“We got a good start. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up. At the beginning on the scrimmage, we were sloppy in our run fits. We need to clean those up and make sure we understand our gap controls.”

RELATED: Spurrier satisfied with QB play in spring game

The Gamecocks only ran two coverages and stayed in their base 4-3 alignment throughout, but Hoke was encouraged by the defense’s understanding of assignments and ability to force takeaways, two interceptions by Jasper Sasser.

Most importantly, South Carolina’s front seven made its way into the backfield, a lost art last season. JUCO transfer Marquavius Lewis had an impressive afternoon, as did defensive end Darius English. Linebackers Jonathan Walton and Bryson Allen-Williams made two memorable pad-crunching hits.

Hoke says there are still packages and coverage schemes the Gamecocks will work on and install during fall camp and a couple position battles that will continue leading up to the 2015 opener against North Carolina in Charlotte.

When the team reconvenes during the summer, it’ll be all business.

“I was excited we made progress every day and improved every day, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” he said.