South Carolina fans shouldn’t expect anything fancy from the Gamecocks defense when the team opens the season Sept. 2 against N.C. State. South Carolina will play as many as nine first-year defensive players against the Wolfpack and that kind of thing makes a coach nervous.
“You never really know how they are going to respond, how they are going to react,” Muschamp said Thursday during the first Columbia Touchdown Club luncheon of the season. “They are going to go through some growing pains.”
The Gamecocks head coach is traditionally the first speaker of the year for the TD Club, and Muschamp as making his second appearance Thursday. He led South Carolina to a 6-7 record last year in his first season.
This year, he has told his defensive coaches: “Let’s be really simple.”
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“It’s the old K.I.S.S. theory – Keep It Simple Stupid,” Muschamp said. “We want our guys reacting on game day. We don’t know how some of them are going to react if they’re going to react and if they’re going to react the right way so let’s make sure we let them play fast. We don’t need them out there thinking. Let’s err on being really simple. That’s kind of our theme now defensively.”
The Gamecocks will play N.C. State at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., at 3 p.m. He recounted for the TD Club a story about a season opener at Florida, where he was head coach from 2011-2014.
“I had a cornerback, a guy who just got drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft, and he came up to me in the walk through before we went to the stadium and he said, ‘Coach, it’s OK if I don’t play today,’” Muschamp said. “I said, ‘Son, you’re the third corner, you’re going into the game today.’ He said, ‘No, that’s OK, I’ll redshirt if you want me to coach.’ I went to my defensive coordinator and said, ‘Your corner you are about to put in man coverage is wanting to redshirt right now so you may want to play some zone when he’s in the game.’
“You never know what you are going to get with young players.”
In other news, Muschamp told the crowd that:
▪ Sophomore Javon Charleston, who was awarded a scholarship this week, will be the top backup at safety behind Chris Lammons and D.J. Smith.
▪ Columbia native and A.C. Flora graduate Joseph Charlton will be the starting punter.
▪ Freshman tight end Evan Hinson, who also plays for the Gamecocks basketball team, is making a lot of progress and will make an impact on the team this year.