Photo: Sara Yang/The Daily Gamecock

Looking at what's to come for the Gamecocks in 2018

The first football task in 2018 is complete: win the Outback Bowl. But it's only day one and there's a lot of work to do moving forward for the 2018 season. Although South Carolina (9-4) is happy with the win, head coach Will Muschamp knows that more is in store for this program. 

"We've got to continue moving forward," Muschamp said. "The great thing about it is we're building, and 70 percent of our offense was freshmen and sophomores. We have a bunch of really good players coming back next year." 

How exactly do the Gamecocks keep moving forward? There are a few keys they'll have to look at and improve on in the offseason. 

Hiring an offensive coordinator 

Former offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was let go by Muschamp after the Clemson game, and Muschamp said he would not hire someone new until after the bowl game. He gave the interim role to wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, who definitely impressed in Monday's game. 

"I thought Bryan McClendon did an outstanding job preparing our football team offensively and the entire offensive staff going into the game," Muschamp said after the game. "Made a lot of adjustments at halftime on some things that we felt like we could take advantage of."

The Gamecocks had 300 yards total offense against the Wolverines under McClendon, and they're just the fifth team to do that this season. Although the offense was off to a slow start, Muschamp said he had faith in what McClendon could work out. 

"(I) didn't even visit with the offensive staff at halftime. Had total confidence in making the right adjustments," Muschamp said. McClendon showed he was able to pull the offense together. 

Muschamp wouldn't comment after the game about the search or McClendon's status, but reiterated that he was "really impressed" with the job McClendon did. 

Having key players back 

Gamecock fans were pretty excited to see Rico Dowdle back on the field on Monday, and knowing that he isn't the only one who will be back next season excites fans even more.

Dowdle, Deebo Samuel and Bryson-Allen Williams will all be back next year after they each missed majority of the season due to injuries. While South Carolina still got nine wins on the season, the Gamecocks believe these players can certainly help continue the momentum they had at the end of Monday's game. 

Improving special teams 

If Monday showed any place for improvement, it was with special teams. Parker White made two of his three field goal attempts, one from 22 and one from 44, and both of his extra point attempts. The one White missed was from 48, which would have been the longest of his career. White still has room for improvement, especially on kickoffs. Both of his in the first half went out of bounds. 

Early in the game Chris Lammons muffed the punt, resulting in Michigan recovering it. Muschamp said there were some communications issues on that, and this has been a problem in other games this season. 

"We've had two situations with that this year where we've not done a good job communicating with that... Certainly we had some special teams issues that we need to move forward with." Muschamp said. 

The Gamecocks know they have a lot of work to do during the offseason, but hope they left fans with enough excitement to last them until the season opener.

And across social media, fans showed that they are definitely excited about the fact that they get a free Bloomin' Onion at Outback Tuesday.



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