South Carolina wrapped spring football practice earlier than any program in the SEC, largely due to Will Muschamp’s desire to give any injured players more time to heal before the start of fall camp. He also likes the idea of players still lifting under the supervision of South Carolina’s strength coaching staff for a few more weeks after spring practice before they leave campus.
In his first two seasons with the Gamecocks, Muschamp’s teams have exceeded expectations, qualifying for a bowl in 2016, then winning nine games a season ago. Remember, the team won just three games in 2015 during Steve Spurrier’s aborted final season.
Don’t fault yourself if this upswing has escaped your notice. With Georgia’s ascension into a college football powerhouse and coaching drama at Tennessee and Florida, the Gamecocks, as usual are flying below the radar in the SEC East.
Muschamp continues to fill his team’s weak spots with the addition of a second graduate transfer in the secondary with Texas A&M’s Nick Harvey. Compared to where he started in 2016 though, it’s a loaded Gamecock roster.
South Carolina returns almost all of its offensive production from 2017’s nine-win team this season.
Starting quarterback Jake Bentley gets to work under new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, but with that being a promotion from inside the staff, it’s not expected to create many challenges in learning new terminology as the scheme is tweaked. Tight end Hayden Hurst is the one meaningful loss, gone to the NFL as a first round pick, but the return of star wide receiver Deebo Samuel after a redshirt season should make the overall personnel more dynamic. The tailback spot is deep, so even if there’s not a clear starter, options abound for McClendon to work with.
As long as Bentley stays healthy, this should be the most successful offense a Muschamp-coached team has ever produced.
The defense is a different story.
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