Coming off a 9-4 season in his third year at the helm of the Gamecock football program, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp held high expectations for his team at his summer news conference to mark the start of fall practice at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Muschamp has slightly adjusted the team’s roster ahead of September 1, bringing in transfers including senior Shane Hynes from Kent State and freshman Josh Belk from Clemson in the offseason. In addition, Muschamp has brought in a plethora of recruits for the 2019 season, including 4-star quarterback Ryan Hilinski (Orange Lutheran/Orange, California.).
With the Gamecocks facing pressure heading into the 2018 season, Muschamp would like to see his team trust the process his staff have in place to win and acknowledged that he has been “pleased” with how his team is facing such adversities.
“We had a team meeting earlier,” Muschamp said. “You make a choice every day you walk in the building ... A positive mindset and attitude doesn’t guarantee you anything but a negative one does. And you gotta have the right kind of mindset going into training camp and I really like where our football team is ... To this point, I’ve been pleased with the attitude and the mindset of our team ... I do like the work ethic and the culture of our organization and where it is right now."
Amidst the challenges that the Gamecocks will face this upcoming season, Muschamp expects to see his players fight to their spots during training camp this month. He credits the successfulness of players to fully buying into the South Carolina program and understanding the difficulties that come along with it.
“Going into camp if you just had to ask me ... interested to see some position battles,” Muschamp said. “The first thing we’ve got to do is get the young guys ready on both lines of scrimmage up front ... A lot of these guys either have been here and haven’t played or just stepped on our campus. We’ve got to get those guys game ready for September 1st."
Muschamp believes newly hired Gamecock quarterback coach Dan Werner will contribute a “wealth of experience” for the South Carolina offense in the 2018 season. Werner is coming off a trip to the 2017 National Championship with Alabama.
“Wealth of experience on the offensive side of the ball,” Muschamp said. “His development of the quarterback position is as good as anywhere in the country. You look at his background offensively, it’s vast. From a two back looks at Miami and the operation there to developing more of an up-tempo attack at Ole Miss, which is what we are moving more to as far as dictating the tempo of the game. So, his wealth of knowledge at the quarterback position and then offensively with different backgrounds of things has been really a good help to our offense.”
As Werner looks to assist the South Carolina offense with his extensive resume, Muschamp touched upon what Jake Bentley must do to thrive in a ‘hurry-up’ offense.
“You become accustomed to what you’re used to doing,” Muschamp said. “He’s been in an up-tempo offense his entire high school career and coming here. His production in tempo situations has been better than when it's been in a different situation ... There’s a lot of things that you go through and you evaluate what we could've done better in those situations. Not all of those were on Jake and obviously there were some that he would’ve loved to have had back ... The good thing about Jake is he's very coachable. He’s got a ‘Coach me, Coach’ attitude and as he watches the tape there’s nobody more critical of himself than Jake Bentley. I can assure you of that.”
With an interesting schedule ahead for South Carolina this season which includes three consecutive home games to open the season, the Gamecocks have had the same goal in mind from year one to today.
“Some people can call it negative," Muschamp said. "I call it being realistic. It’s where we are. We want to win the East and win our state every year, that’s our goal in our program from year one to year three and we haven’t done that yet.”