Bobby Bentley is expecting an improved running game out of the South Carolina football team in 2017.
In turn, the Gamecock running backs coach believes that will produce a more complete offense than what USC had in coach Will Muschamp’s first season.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 50 people at the Anderson Gamecock Club event Tuesday night, Bentley said the reason his ball carriers didn’t get much publicity in preseason college football magazines is because the Gamecocks averaged 3.7 yards per carry last year.
With 10 returning starters, a talented addition to the backfield and a new blocking scheme, Bentley thinks that number will go up.
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“We’re going to be better on the offensive line,” Bentley said. “They’re a year older.”
New offensive line coach Eric Wolford, who replaced Shawn Elliott, is installing an NFL style scheme that Bentley said suits his backfield personnel, and the Gamecocks have two solid options at running back.
Rico Dowdle rushed for a team-high 764 yards as a freshman in 2016, and Ty’Son Williams was a highly sought after transfer from North Carolina.
“Ty’Son is the best thing that could’ve happened to Rico Dowdle,” Bentley said. “Rico needs some competition.”
Dowdle is up to 220 pounds this offseason, and Williams, who’s having to walk on, is 225 pounds. Bentley sees one of those two getting 25 carries a game with the other chipping in with 10-15 totes. A competitive battle in fall camp will determine those roles.
“You’re going to see a great addition to our offense,” Bentley said about Williams. “He’s one of the fastest guys on our football team. Without a doubt the one that is the most agile as far as changing direction in a short area.”
An improved running game could take a lot of pressure off starting quarterback Jake Bentley, Bobby Bentley’s son.
Bobby Bentley said Jake needs to become more consistent and improve passes into tight windows against SEC defenses. But he believes the overall offense showed flashes of what it could be in both the 46-39 loss to South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl and the spring game.
Once Jake Bentley and Dowdle became starters at the midseason point in 2016, they had 18 total practices the rest of the regular season. They had 16 bowl practices and 15 spring workouts.
“That’s why you’ll see a major improvement in our offense,” Bentley said.