Early in fall camp, Will Muschamp is seeing the progress.
His staff has been in place for more than a year and a half. That’s not yet the start of Year 2 on the field, but already the middle of it, in the meeting room and notably the weight room.
And it’s showing in the trenches.
“I think we’re stronger as a football team,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said after Saturday's scrimmage. “I think a lot of credit goes to Jeff Dillman and his staff. I think the players are playing with more confidence because the stronger you are, the more endurance you have, the more confidence you’re going to have.”
Play up front was a notable issue for USC on both sides of the ball in 2016. The offense ranked 110th in converting in short yardage and had one in five carries go for loss. The defense let opponents get at least five yards on 43 percent of their carries, a number that ranked 109th nationally.
Muschamp said the scrimmage was a far cry from the play that led to those numbers, and the timing also matters.
“There were some really good hits out there,” Muschamp said. “And for your 11th day of camp where your legs are starting to wear down a little bit, that was good to see.”
The coach also noted his team kept the procedure penalties down in the scrimmage, with only two offensively.
Ever the technician, Muschamp explained exactly how the stronger team translated that into the finer points of the respective positions.
“I feel like we’re playing blocks much better up front,” Muschamp said. “We’re disengaging much better up front. We’re sustaining blocks offensively better than we have before.”