USC Gamecocks Football

Will Muschamp: ‘If it was truly about player safety, we’d eliminate it’

How USC is preparing for Wofford and its option offense

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp previews the Gamecocks' game against Wofford.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp previews the Gamecocks' game against Wofford.

South Carolina is getting ready to play Wofford on Saturday, which means the Gamecocks defenders are getting ready to face a lot of cut blocks. South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is not happy about that.

“We talk about player safety a lot, don’t we?” Muschamp asked rhetorically Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “I see cut blocks creating some issues for player safety. That’s where I stand on it.”

Cut blocks, in which an offensive players dives at a defenders lower leg or feet in order to get him on the ground, are a staple of option offenses and a source of consternation for many defensive coaches. In order to be legal, the blocks are required to come from a player moving from the direction of the play and in an area where the defender can see the block coming.

“I think it’s a very thin line,” Muschamp said. “It’s a hard line, because at the end of the day, it’s a competitive game and you’re competing hard and you’re going to a guy, whether he recognizes you or not, you’re a linebacker coming inside, out of a play and you don’t see the cut block coming and you can’t identify it and it’s a totally legal block, based on the rule and you’ve got a problem. You’ve got a guy with a knee injury. That happens a lot and that’s just part of it. If it was truly about player safety, we’d eliminate it, in my opinion. That’s what I would say, but I don’t know that would happen.”

Wofford (9-1) is second in the Southern Conference in rushing with 260.2 yards per game. Whether or not Muschamp likes the blocks, he is getting his players ready for them in practice this week, he said.

“The biggest thing to me is playing the block,” he said. “So many times, you get your eyes focused on the ball carrier and that’s when you get (blocked), that’s when you get cut. A big emphasis to me is you’ve got to play the block first, because if you’re on the ground, we’re playing with 10. You’ve got to stay on your feet.”

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