Will Muschamp opens his third spring practice as South Carolina’s coach on Wednesday, and he knows offensive improvement is a must.
The Gamecocks finished second in the SEC East in 2017 and won nine games, but they still gained fewer yards in 2017 than they did in 2016. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was dismissed before the bowl victory over Michigan and wide receiver coach Bryan McClendon is replacing Roper.
South Carolina also brought in former Ole Miss offensive coordinator Dan Werner as quarterbacks coach. Werner spent last fall as an offensive analyst at Alabama, and Muschamp said one of Werner’s tasks will be to help the offense speed things up in terms of pace of play.
In another attempt to rev up the offense, the Gamecocks are making some changes in their line. There were going to be changes anyway, as there were two senior starters in center Alan Knott and guard Cory Helms. But Muschamp said Tuesday that Zack Bailey, who started at right tackle last season, is moving back to guard, that former starting tackle Malik Young is being moved to defense for his final season as a Gamecock and that Donnell Stanley is moving from guard to center.
Got all that? In short, the starting line to open spring practice, from left to right, will be Dennis Daley, Bailey, Stanley, Sadarius Hutcherson and Blake Camper.
Bailey, who will be a senior this fall, is a former starting guard, and he should be one of the best interior linemen in the SEC this season.
Spring will be important not only for that quintet to become used to each other but for backups to emerge. Muschamp admitted depth is a concern.
One spot where depth is not a concern is quarterback. Junior Jake Bentley returns as the starter, and Muschamp said redshirt freshman Jay Urich, touted true freshman Dakereon Joyner and senior Michael Scarnecchia will battle to be the No. 2 guy. Urich went to the same high school – Piedmont (S.C.) Wren – as Clemson starting quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who played in just three games in 2017 because of a broken leg and a foot injury, has been cleared to practice, though Muschamp said coaches would take it easy on Samuel. Shi Smith, who had 29 receptions as a true freshman last season, will be limited during the spring because of an ankle injury. The same goes for linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, who missed all but three games with a shoulder injury last season.
Cornerback Jamyest Williams, who was one of the best freshman defensive backs in the SEC last season, will miss the spring because he still is recovering from shoulder surgery.
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