Will Muschamp recaps South Carolina football’s first scrimmage of training camp
South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp came off the field Monday looking like a man who accomplished much of what he wanted to.
And he finally has the personnel to do what he wants.
His team had its first live scrimmage work of August, a key part in deciding which players get key roles when the season rolls around. He got to roll in three groups of players for 50 snaps each, and that highlights something he’s been chasing since he arrived in Columbia.
“If you have a third set of defensive backs that never can rep because you don’t have enough offensive lineman, or you don’t have enough defensive linemen — now we have that kind of depth,” Muschamp said. “So now, there’s players that are in that group, that are going to help us this year that you can see it coming. It’s just they’re a little further away than some other guys right now.”
The coach said those players might not contribute immediately but could work their way into position to help later on in the season. Players who haven’t fully adjusted to college life and college ball can show a little in terms of raw skills.
“Being able to to walk out of today with 150 scrimmage snaps, each group getting 50 ... playing tackle football, that’s a hell of a day,” Muschamp said.
Here are a few of his comments about who stood out or did well:
▪ Jake Bentley hit wide receiver Shi Smith for a big touchdown and, in a 1-minute situation, connected with Mon Denson to set up a winning field goal.
▪Senior defensive end D.J. Wonnum did some nice things, Muschamp said.
▪ Without Tavien Feaster (tooth) on the field, Muschamp said Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson both did some nice things.
▪ Muschamp said he felt freshman tailback Kevin Harris ran hard in the scrimmage, but he wanted to watch the tape to see if he was reading the running plays to the staff’s satisfaction. The coach added he expects Harris will help on special teams.
▪ The offense only had one turnover, a fourth-down interception. The defense outdueled the offense in the red zone.
▪ Backup quarterbacks Ryan Hilinski and Dakereon Joyner are still holding the ball too long, Muschamp said, and after the scrimmage (but before watching the tape) he didn’t feel there was much separation.
▪ The staff is still mixing and matching things at the safety and nickel spots, but the preferred outcome is Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu holding down the outside corner spots.
▪ Running back/defensive back A.J. Turner spent the whole scrimmage on the defensive side and showed well.
▪ The staff came away concerned with the passing game, Muschamp said. The running game had been solid, but multiple parts of the passing game needed work.
“We need to throw it better,” Muschamp said. “We’re not as consistent in the throwing game, whether it’s from a protection standpoint or just throwing and catching it.”
▪ Muschamp wanted to see better work on the defensive perimeter, keeping runners from getting outside and into space.
▪The staff treated the scrimmage as a full game day.
▪ Muschamp noted practices such as Monday’s were good for developing the bottom of the roster, specifically the linemen.
▪ The staff had been hoping for hotter weather and got it. The tempo and handling it were both up to the coach’s standard. Two of the team’s first three games are at 3:30 p.m., the same start time as the scrimmage, while the third will be a noon game.
▪ The special teams units got several live punts and kickoffs.
South Carolina has a break from practice Tuesday, then three days of workouts before another scrimmage Saturday.