USC Gamecocks Football

The hidden challenge of USC’s up-tempo offense before the games even start

South Carolina’s football team has less than a week before it debuts it new up-tempo offense against Coastal Carolina.

But the coaching staff and players has already dealt with a double-edged set of logistical factors behind the scenes.

“Where it’s changed us as much as anything is practice,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “We’re getting a lot more reps than we’ve ever gotten, and you’ve got to be mindful of that. We have the catapult system, which we’re monitoring our players’ mileage, we’re monitoring their heart-exerting efforts.”

That catapult system tracks distance traveled, speed and other factors. Muschamp said that comes into play when looking ahead toward preventing injuries and not wearing out players.

Last season, USC ranked 122nd nationally with only 61.6 plays per game. Even after going up-tempo in the bowl game, the team managed only 58, between a first half with only a few first downs and a second half heavy on big plays (all against a strong defense).

Getting more reps is probably a good thing in some ways, but Muschamp said there have been some adjustments to how USC’s practices are structured, and not just for reasons of keeping players fresh.

“We’ll have tempo periods of practice where we try and dictate the tempo offensively, but then we’re going to have teaching parts of practices,” Muschamp said. “Where I think it’s important for players to get taught between plays.”