As South Carolina assistant coach Bryan McClendon auditions for the Gamecocks’ full-time offensive coordinator job, there’s a question of how he’ll be judged.
On one hand, four quarters of football where he’ll call plays against Michigan in the Outback Bowl isn’t all that much time, so the wider résumé of team preparation matters. On the other, he’s being asked to call plays, and this will be the only play-calling he’s done before trying to land the job permanently.
How much weight does production on that single afternoon Monday carry?
“Obviously gameday is important,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “From a calling standpoint, from an adjustment standpoint. Certainly if you make the right calls and the right adjustments, you’re going to be productive, so that is important. But I’ve been very pleased with his progress.”
McClendon is filling in for Kurt Roper, who was relieved of his duties after two seasons. The Gamecocks’ offense was not particularly productive and was highly methodical, going against a promise Muschamp made to go fast.
USC will have a tall task with a Michigan defense that’s loaded with talent. The Wolverines rank sixth in the country in allowing 4.5 yards a play, led by the likes of defensive end Rashan Gary and speedy linebacker Devin Bush in a blitz-happy scheme.
South Carolina has seem some potential offensive line injuries, but there is the set of Shi Smith, Hayden Hurst, OrTre Smith and Bryan Edwards for Jake Bentley to throw to.
Muschamp said how the game was planned and the behind-the-scenes work would matter for McClendon’s case, as he tries to hold off any outside candidates. And on that front, the coach has been pleased.
“I think the preparation has been really good, number one, by Bryan, but our entire offensive staff, as well,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got a really good staff in place, and I’ve been very pleased with his command of our team, our staff, our players. We’ve been very productive in our practices at home but also since we’ve come to Tampa. I think he’s done a really good job.”
Who: South Carolina (8-4) vs. Michigan (8-4)
When: Noon Monday
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Line: Michigan by 8