At this time last year, South Carolina had a ton of hype surrounding the program. A new, exciting offense was being installed in Columbia and the Gamecocks were set to return a ton of weapons on offense that left many Gamecock fans envisioning scoreboards lighting up all season.
We all know that never materialized and the Gamecocks finished the season with a dud of a bowl game, losing 28-0 to Virginia. The Belk Bowl loss dropped the team to 7-6 on the season. Following those results, the hype surrounding the program is minimal exiting the spring but that may not necessarily be a bad thing as South Carolina fans found out just how much value there is in offseason hype.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, two aspects of the South Carolina program have improved since last season according to Muschamp, but neither one is going to generate much offseason hype — line of scrimmage depth and leadership on the roster.
“At this time, there are some things to be excited about. The competitive depth we have on our team. We have a deeper roster than we have had before, especially on both lines of scrimmage, which excites you because I know this league very well and you have to be strong there,” Muschamp recently said in a YouTube video posted by GamecockCentral.com. “I think we have good leadership, we have three players on our team that previously in their careers have been voted team captains.”
Having greater depth and improved leadership isn’t going to make for any exciting offseason hype reels but it’s the type of improvement Muschamp’s program desperately needed to make in order to push forward. If these areas are truly improved in Columbia, the Gamecocks are much more likely to exceed expectations next fall after failing to meet them in 2018.
One other aspect of the team Muschamp was asked to discuss was the backup role behind Jake Bentley. The Gamecocks have two talented prospects competing for the job, which is just another example of the competitive depth Muschamp discussed in his program this offseason, as redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner and true freshman Ryan Hilinski both looked the part this spring in camp.
However, according to Muschamp, neither player has done enough at this point to be anointed the program’s backup signal caller.
“There’s not enough separation from that position as far as naming a second guy at this time but I think both of them bring really good things to the table,” Muschamp noted. “I think both guys progressed really well. Dakereon from Year 1 to Year 2 and Ryan being a high school senior coming mid-year, did some really nice things.”