Practice for South Carolina’s football team looked a little different when the Gamecocks took the field Tuesday morning.
It’s all reflects an understanding coach Will Muschamp reached.
The returning members of his South Carolina football team, they know how practices are supposed to operate, the speed and tempo the coaches want and generally what to do and where to be. The freshmen and newcomers do not.
With that in mind, the first four practices will be of the split squad variety. Everyone arrives at 8 a.m., veterans go to work and everyone else stands on the sidelines.
“Our young guys will be able to watch practice, be able to see the tempo of practice, the verbiage, the communication,” Muschamp said. “All of the things that a young player in the transition from high school to college, or college to pro ... the thing you struggle most with is the tempo of practice and how fast the game moves.”
The veterans will do their 1 1/2 hours, then the rest of the team will join in special teams work. Experienced players then depart and the newcomers take the field. This will go on until Saturday, when players don full pads and practices return to normal.
Some programs use the term “mental reps” to describe what the younger players are getting, thinking their way through a play they’re watching, but it goes a little beyond that. The two practices are scripted exactly the same. The split allows for some players to get a first look and eliminates the drag that comes with learning on the fly.
“It enables you to have a little bit more of a slower tempo for a young player, to teach him better and he can learn better,” Muschamp said. “You can install better because you’re not in the middle of a practice trying to explain something to a young player when you know the older player already has an idea of what we’re trying to do.”
That mimics the older players’ experience the spring, as they had a rough road adapting to practices far faster than they were used to.
This learning curve is usually a short one, but it’ll be a little longer for this set of Gamecocks because of the group’s makeup.
“I’ve usually only done it for the first two,” Muschamp said, “but I’ve decided to do it four days going into this camp because of the youth and the guys that we’re going to need to play for us.”
Want to see the Gamecocks?
The Gamecocks have scheduled three practices that will be open to the public – Monday, Aug. 15, Tuesday, Aug. 16, and Wednesday, Aug. 17. Each of those three practices will begin at 6:30 pm. More details will be announced at a later date.
The annual Colonial Life Fan Appreciation Day is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 21, from 2:30 to 4 pm. More details, including the site for this year’s event, will be announced at a later date.