Muschamp expresses excitement regarding South Carolina's roster, tough opening schedule
Many have pegged South Carolina as the breakout candidate in the SEC East this season. However, despite winning six games and earning a trip to the 2016 Birmingham Bowl in Will Muschamp’s first season in Columbia, the Gamecocks updated over/under win total remains at 5.5 as of mid-July.
So what gives? How can the Gamecocks be viewed as one of the rising programs in the East while at the same time the team’s over/under number suggests South Carolina is a fringe bowl team heading into the season?
Never one to miss an opportunity to ask tough questions, SEC Network host Paul Finebaum asked Muschamp to share his thoughts on why the over/under number would be so low during an appearance on his Tuesday radio show. Here’s how the South Carolina coach responded to the question.
“The knowns we have back on offense, and obviously when you have a starting quarterback back that played well and made tremendous strides in the offseason, it excites me,” Muschamp said on the air. “Some of the skill guys, Deebo Samuel and Hayden Hurst were with me (at SEC Media Days). Bryan Edwards had a fantastic freshman year and I really think we have some talented runners. We are improved on the offensive line.”
While obviously excited about the potential of his offense, Muschamp made his name on the defensive side of the ball and sees plenty of talent on his favorite side of the ball. The Gamecock coach does, however, predict injuries up front would be devastating to the unit.
“I do think we have some talented players defensively, we just have some unknowns that are backing those guys up,” Muschamp continued. “If those guys can come through, I’m excited about where we are. We can’t have any injuries, especially in the front seven defensively because we are paper thin there.”
Aside from South Carolina having a young roster, Muschamp noted during SEC Media Days that 70 percent of his roster consists of freshmen and sophomores, the schedule appears quite daunting this season. The Gamecocks open in Charlotte against NC State, which may have the best defensive line in the ACC, before traveling to Missouri and hosting Kentucky.
Considering South Carolina hasn’t beaten Kentucky in three seasons, not even the lone home game of the first three weeks of the season should be considered a layup for the young Gamecock team. Even the Week 4 opponent, Louisiana Tech, won nine games last season and nearly beat Arkansas on the road.
Despite the tough opening month, Muschamp has no issue with the slate, suggesting he will use that to motivate his players in fall camp.
“It’s good with me, you get out early,” Muschamp said. “It’s a motivating factor for your players, to have them dialed in for fall camp and understanding you better be ready Game 1 and going to Columbia, Missouri to play an offensive football team that was probably as explosive as an offense that there was in our league last year.
“I think it’s great, then we have Kentucky Game 3 at home here at Williams-Brice — a team we haven’t beaten in three years. Hopefully, we’ll have that be a good night game here at Williams-Brice.”