Preview 2017: South Carolina & Will Muschamp Close Calls

Preview 2017: South Carolina & Will Muschamp Close Calls

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Preview 2017: South Carolina & Will Muschamp Close Calls

Preview 2017: South Carolina & Will Muschamp Win Ugly, But It Works


Winning close games might be dangerous, but it worked last year.


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2017 South Carolina Preview: What You Need To Know
2017 South Carolina Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– South Carolina Previews: 2016 | 2015

Will Muschamp and the new coaching staff helped South Carolina win the close games.

Start there, take it, and don’t ask how it all happened.

The 2016 South Carolina season was ugly at times, and the 6-7 record wasn’t all that spicy, and the blowout losses to Florida and Clemson weren’t fun, and the bowl defeat to USF sort of stunk. But it was a good start. It wasn’t a special year, but there was a three-win improvement.

But the team was playing with fire, and it can’t do that again.

The Muschamp formula of a tough offense, great special teams, and nasty defense works when everything goes right. A little hiccup, and those title wins turn into rough losses.

His style was enough to help get Florida to the Sugar Bowl to end the 2012 season – and an 11-2 record – but that team managed to win four games by a touchdown or less.

The next year, injuries hit, the offense fizzled, and the team invented creative ways to lose, dropping four games by a touchdown or less in a 4-8 run.

Fast-forward to South Carolina in 2015, with Steve Spurrier trying to finish strong after going 33-6 from 2011 to 2013, and with a 7-6 bowl run in 2014. He quit as soon as it became obvious that his team was bad, but all it needed was a little bit of a push.

Through the adversity, that 2015 team went 3-9 scored 263 points, gave up 330, and lost four games by a touchdown or less.

In comes Muschamp, and what did South Carolina do in his first regular season – not including the bowl loss to USF? It scored 231 points, gave up 298, and won four games by a touchdown or less.

And that’s the difference, and that’s the danger. If this all works and there’s little to no adversity, this style can keep things close against just about anyone. Slow it down, play great D, take advantage of the opportunities at the right times.

Suffer a few injuries, get hit with 14 first quarter points by some offense, need to mount a big comeback, and lose.

But Muschamp is going to need a little while. Spurrier didn’t leave the program in a state of disrepair, but he did leave it in a state with the defending national champs, and in a conference that’s unrelenting when it comes to recruiting great talent. It’s going to take some stability, a good influx of talent, and …

A little bit of luck.

Gamecock fans are a patient and loyal bunch, but they’ve seen what 11-win seasons look like. They’re going to want them back, no matter how they’re delivered.

Muschamp will always have answers on defense. This year, he needs the line play to be stronger, the pass rush to emerge, and the depth to be there in a better rotation.

He’s getting back three-time leading tackler Skai Moore to the linebacking corps – after missing all of last year with a neck injury – and he has defensive backs who can hit. But to make any more of a move, the Gamecocks need to be better than 66th in the nation in total D and 90th against the run.

The mediocre Fizzle ’n’ Drizzle offensive attack at least has veterans, and hope.

Jake Bentley is one of the SEC’s hot young quarterbacks, and he gets back everyone in the receiving corps, and almost everyone in the running back rotation, not including North Carolina transfer Ty’Son Williams.

The line gets back four starters, but it has to be a whole lot better. It can’t be as leaky in pass protection, and he has to be stronger for the ground game.

But if Muschamp could get to six wins and a bowl game in a transitional season with no offense, mediocre defense, and average special teams, what’s going to happen when the O is better, the D isn’t lousy, and the kicking games and return teams are stronger?

There’s nothing boring about winning. But be boring and lose? That can’t be Muschamp’s Year Two.

2017 South Carolina Preview: What You Need To Know
2017 South Carolina Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– South Carolina Previews: 2016 | 2015

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