In Will Muschamp’s first year at South Carolina, defense was the Gamecocks’ calling card.
South Carolina’s offense struggled mightily in the first half of the season behind a carousel of quarterbacks and finished dead last in the SEC with 20.8 points per game. Part of the problem can be linked to a lack of explosive plays, which sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley believes will be fixed in 2017.
“To be real explosive,” Bentley told reporters on Monday when asked about the offense’s potential. “I feel like we have the weapons now with Rico (Dowdle) and Ty’Son (Williams) and receiver-wise [they are] some of the best in the nation. If we can just keep growing and getting better, we can be really good.”
Once Bentley took over at quarterback last season, the Gamecocks had a noticeable improvement on offense. The true freshman quarterback completed over 65 percent of his passes for 1,420 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions over the final seven games of the season. After a 2-4 start to the season, South Carolina went 4-3 with Bentley at quarterback and all three losses came against ranked opponents.
Muschamp and his staff did a quality job on the recruiting trail to add weapons on offense. Incoming freshmen receivers OrTre Smith and Shi Smith will join an already potent unit led by Deebo Samual and Bryan Edwards. Add tight end Hayden Hurst to the mix, and the Gamecocks have the pieces in place to put up points in bunches.
The coaching staff seems to be well aware of the type of mismatches their offense can create, and South Carolina may use more up-tempo sets to keep defenses on their heels.
“I think it would be a way to change the pace of the game for us,” Bentley told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think we’ll use it all the time, but I definitely think it’s something we can use to give defenses a different look and it can really help us.”