South Carolina Gamecocks Football: Offensive Unit Key to Success in 2018
The South Carolina Gamecocks are coming off of a surprising nine-win 2017 season. For the South Carolina Gamecocks to improve in 2018, and compete in the SEC, the offense will be the key. The Gamecocks win total improved by three in head coach Will Muschamp’s second season. The offense actually regressed (yardage and plays per game) in 2017 from 2016.
In the 2016 season, Carolina averaged 347 yards per game and ran 67 plays per game. In ’17, they averaged 338 ypg while running 61 plays per game. The defense will always hold their own with a Muschamp coaching staff. This has been the case everywhere he has coached, including his last head coaching stint at Florida.
The problem with Will Muschamp has always been that his offenses were borderline terrible. This was especially the deal in Gainesville and what ultimately led to his firing. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was dismissed before the Outback Bowl. Bryan McClendon was promoted to OC from wide receiver coach. His play calling in the second half of that game played a big role in his promotion.
HOW DOES THE OFFENSE IMPROVE IN 2018?
The biggest factor in getting the offensive numbers up will be a change in offensive philosophy. During the spring game, they showed this off in a small dosage. A more up-tempo pace seemed to allow quarterback Jake Bentley the opportunity to make quicker decisions. This allowed his accuracy to improve. Bentley’s improved accuracy and decision making will be the biggest key in cranking up the offensive volume. Bentley getting the chance to work with new QB coach Dan Werner (former Ole Miss OC) can only help.
He will have second-team preseason All-American Deebo Samuel to throw to. Samuel is a do-it-all talent. He was injured in the fourth game of the year last year. Samuel provides the explosion at receiver and Bryan Edwards and OrTre Smith provide the security blankets. Edwards and Smith are both 6’3”-plus pass catchers that can go up and get it. They will have to replace the first-round pick Hayden Hurst at tight end. They don’t have a true tight end on the roster but K.C. Crosby has tremendous upside as an H-back.
They have a stable of running backs that all offer different things to the offense. A.J. Turner is the home-run threat. Ty’Son Williams is the grinder. Rico Dowdle is the all-around back. The three-headed monster can take the pressure off of the passing game.
All of this is dependent on the offensive line. This has been a sore spot for the last two seasons. South Carolina had one of the best offensive line recruiting classes in 2018 but none of those players can be counted on to contribute this year. Alan Knott and Cory Helms have moved on and all three returning starters will be playing new positions.
This is an attempt by offensive line coach Eric Wolford to get the best five in the lineup. A quicker pace on offense can help this offensive line out. A quicker release by Bentley means the OL doesn’t have to hold their blocks as long. This could be beneficial for all parties.
The faster tempo should result in more yardage and a higher number of plays in 2018. The South Carolina offense will get tested early playing national championship runner-up Georgia in Week 2. A win over the Bulldogs in early September could catapult the Gamecocks to the top of the SEC East.
What do you think of the South Carolina Gamecocks offense for 2018? Let us know in the comments!
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