USC Gamecocks Football

Gamecocks turn up the hitting in bowl practice, with a purpose

With Will Muschamp, the hitting is almost a given.

He wants his teams to practice like they play. Hitting and tackling has been problematic all of 2016, so it makes sense he’d try to get back to that.

But since the team started bowl practice, it’s been a bit more like August camp, with that element turned to a different level.

“The seniors came back and we had a physical practice,” linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “Full pads, full go, everything. It was great to get back out there.”

This isn’t a total outlier, as Muschamp is usually one to preach full-go practices, pitting the team’s top players against one another.

But even this is something different from what’s been happening of late.

“The entire team now tackles,” Holloman said. “We’ve got offensive guys tackling. We’ve got receivers tackling. Oh my goodness. Seeing these guys tackle, it’s crazy.”

Holloman said there has been an emphasis on defensive players keeping their feet under them and not lunging. Tackling has been a recurring problem throughout 2016, something that at times undercut a bounce-back campaign for the Gamecocks defense.

And the emphasis on hard-nosed to play is it limited to one side of the ball.

South Carolina’s oft-anemic run game aims not to improve on the larger structural and schematic front, but in terms of getting more push and winning more battles.

The goal with practices built to be more physical is a simple and crucial one.

“We need to be able to run the ball when we want to,” tight end K.C. Crosby said. “Even if people know it. We still need to be able to run the ball.”