USC Gamecocks Football

Will Muschamp explains why he fired Kurt Roper

It wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have, South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp said.

He hired Kurt Roper twice. At one point, he said if he’d brought in Kurt Roper when he arrived at Florida, things wouldn’t have ended so badly in Gainesville. But after the 2017 regular season with the Gamecocks, he parted ways with the man who ran his offense.

“It wasn’t a fun conversation,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy I have tremendous respect for. He’s an outstanding football coach and an outstanding person.”

What was the tipping point?

“I just think we need to be more productive, at the end of the day,” Muschamp said.

The Gamecocks offense simply wasn’t very effective. By standard metrics, USC ranked 108th nationally in yards per game and 98th in points per game at 24.1.

Those numbers were, to a degree, depressed by running only 61.9 plays a game, 120th nationally. (The defense didn’t help by allowing long drives.) Muschamp said that pace was also something he wanted to be a little different.

“I want to establish what I want to do, but schematically, I like what we do,” Muschamp said. “I’d like to play with a little quicker tempo at times.”

Even adjusting for that slower pace, things were not great. USC ranked 92nd in points per drive. Metrics that adjust for the quality of opposition showed similar struggles, whether they be based making the most of each drive (USC’s offense was 73rd in one such metric) or excellence on a play-by-play basis (the Gamecocks were 88th by one version of that kind of measure).

Roper had built his résumé working with legendary offensive mind David Cutcliffe. He’s worked at Ole Miss and Duke, helping mentor Eli Manning and rebuild the Blue Devils program. He was reportedly considered for the open job at his alma mater, Rice, before that was filled.

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