The South Carolina football team and head coach Will Muschamp held a few practices during the bye week, took some time off and are now back at the practice field preparing for the second half of the season. The Gamecocks (2-3) had some challenging moments the first five games of the season, coupling a top 15 win with a lopsided loss going into the break.
The Gamecocks are standing in the middle of the conference in many of the major statistical categories, but a sub-.500 record isn’t where the team wants to be. Muschamp, speaking with ABC Columbia during the bye week, detailed some of the ways he wants to see his team improve in each phase of the game.
The defense is the first side of the ball he hit on. The Gamecocks are ninth in the league in scoring defense allowing 30.0 points per game. The team is 10th in the league in rush defense, giving up 154.8 yards per game on the ground.
“We need to stop the run better on defense,” Muschamp told ABC Columbia. “The last two or three weeks, I don’t think we’ve done that very well against Auburn and LSU. We’ve limited some of the explosive passes we have earlier in the year. I think we’ve improved in that, but that’s another area we need to address.”
From an offensive standpoint, the Gamecocks are sixth in the league in scoring averaging 29.2 points per game through the first five games of the season. They’re ninth in total offense, amassing 378.6 yards per game.
The Gamecocks, though, are tied for last in the Southeastern Conference in quarterback sacks allowed, giving up 16.0 so far. Four of the teams that have allowed fewer than South Carolina have played six games, which is one more than the Gamecocks.
“Offensively, we’ve given up too many sacks,” Muschamp said. “We’ve really worked on pass rush games and pressures. We need to do a better job of protection. We also need to get rid of the ball at the quarterback position in some situations as well. Those have been some of the things we’ve really addressed.”
Muschamp noted in the middle of the week during the SEC Coaches’ Teleconference that senior Parker White is going to handle kickoff duties for the time being. A point of emphasis during the bye week, according to the fifth-year head coach, was “making sure we stay in our lanes and leveraging the ball.”
Muschamp, however, also pointed out that they spent more time on special teams work than ever during his tenure leading into the season due to having a new punter and new kickoff specialist. But now it’s time to make a change.
“We did more live special teams work than we ever have in training camp because of having a new kickoff guy and new punter,” Muschamp said. “We haven’t been consistent kicking the ball off, and Mitch knows that, so that’s why we’re going to make a change with Parker and let him kickoff to be more consistent with where ball placement and hang time needs to be. That’s going to help our coverage units.”
Muschamp said that the bye week was beneficial, not only because of the points of emphasis highlighted above, but also because they’ve been able to take a look at some other players.
We got a bunch of young guys a lot of reps, so that’s been very positive as well,” Muschamp said.
Muschamp and several players will meet with the media on Tuesday. The Gamecocks are set to take on Texas A&M this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium with coverage on ESPN.