Will Muschamp continues to face questions regarding South Carolina's delayed pace on offense
Will Muschamp finished the 2019 season under significant pressure from the South Carolina fan base after going 4-8, and that pressure has not lightened up through the first two games of 2020.
South Carolina fell to Tennessee 31-27 in Week 1 and lost 38-24 to Florida in Week 2. In both of those games, Muschamp has faced criticism for the way he managed the clock late in games while trailing. Against Tennessee, it was the decision to go for a field goal that cut the Vols’ lead to four with over three minutes left, rather than go for a touchdown to tie it up.
Against Florida, it was the lack of urgency on the Gamecocks’ final drive that ate up the remainder of the fourth quarter clock while still down 14 points. South Carolina had the ball down two scores with under eight minutes to play and needed to score quickly, but an 18-play, 74-yard drive used over seven minutes of game clock and finished with a turnover on downs with 48 seconds left.
“I don’t know that it’s the play call, it’s just the operation needs to be faster,” said Muschamp. “And I said that when the game was over, we needed to be crisper in our operation, and we needed to be quicker to the line.
“When you’re in my shoes and you get to the three-minute mark and you got two timeouts left and you’re below three minutes, you’re going to have to onside kick unless you score quickly. If it’s below two and a half minutes there’s no conversation, you have to, because they’re going to run between 44 and 48 seconds off.”
Any time a head coach spends back-to-back weeks of media availability explaining his reasoning in late-game situations, it’s probably not a good sign for that program. Muschamp was continually critical of his offense’s tempo late in the game, led by first-year offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
“We needed to have a quicker operation after we converted the fourth down, the fourth and four,” Muschamp added. “And we converted that, we needed to speed up. I believe I’ve said that, and that’s what we needed to do.”
Although he may not be in danger of being fired at the moment, Muschamp badly needs a win to quell his critics. A sluggish performance against SEC bottom-feeder Vanderbilt in Week 3 certainly would not help him in that effort.