Victoria Richman / The Daily Gamecock

Muschamp talks highlights, improvements, upcoming season at SEC Media Days

Getting ready for his fourth season in the garnet and black, head football coach Will Muschamp discussed the upcoming season at the SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday.

Muschamp highlighted offensive statistics, what worked well in 2018 and what questions needs to be answered in 2019.

"Offensively, I thought we really improved from 2017 to 2018 in some areas," Muschamp said. "We averaged a touchdown more a game, close to a hundred yards a game. We averaged more snaps, I think about eight more in each game, so there's a lot of improvements. I think the tempo really helped us."

However, it wasn't all praise for the offensive unit. Muschamp touched on lack of consistency throughout the year and the amount of turnovers on offense in 2018.

"The inconsistencies and turnovers in the red zone were really what hurt us offensively from continuing to take the next step," Muschamp said. "We had 56 trips in the red zone ... 13 times we [came] away with no points. We had eight turnovers. That's gut wrenching ... that affects your football team."

The offense also struggled with dropped balls that ultimately changed the outcome of some of the last year's games, resulting in a disappointing 7-6 record last season after the team reached 9 wins in the 2017 season. 

"We had 20 drops on the season, and if you followed our season, some of those were game-changing moments in order to win football games down the field," Muschamp said. "It changed the momentum of the game, and we've got to be able to finish on those plays." 

Despite those results, he said there is still room for optimism going forward, particularly at the quarterback position. Senior quarterback Jake Bentley is listed as the starter, but freshman Ryan Hilinski and redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner are both listed behind him for the backup position.

"I think Jake's got great competition behind him in Dakereon and Ryan — two very talented guys that have extremely bright futures at the University of South Carolina," Muschamp said on Wednesday. "They'll continue to battle through camp."

Muschamp made clear that even if there is a change at quarterback, there is only one factor that goes into any decision. 

"Every decision we make in our program as far as football is concerned is about winning. Whether it's a quarterback, defensive end, receiver, it doesn't matter. We're gonna put the guys out there that help us win football games," Muschamp said.

But even with all of the questions and excitement around the offense and entire South Carolina football team in 2019, Muschamp said he hopes the team will have the same energy in the fall as they did this summer. 

"Leave no doubt about the things that take no talent," Muschamp said.

The Gamecocks will begin the 2019 football season on Aug. 31 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina against the North Carolina Tar Heels. The game is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

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