They’re a few weeks into the season. They went from camp, to classes to the rhythms and routines of a season in full.
And that can be “the hard part,” in the coach’s words.
“Now as a young player, it’s one thing when you’re in training camp and it’s all football,” Muschamp said last week. “Well now, we make our guys go to class here, and they got study hall and they got tutoring and they’ve got all this different stuff that we put on their plate as well. And there’s a lot going on as well. And this is the time of year where young players start swimming a little bit.”
This week includes the curveball of a road trip, one with a flight to another time zone.
To this point, the staff has played 18 true freshmen, some in regular rotation and more than a few in a blowout of Charleston Southern. That leaves only a few in the full process of redshirting (the old-school, not playing-at-all kind), which often gives a player a chance to ease into things.
Going through the growing process of this time of year can also add some perspective for South Carolina’s less-experienced coaches.
“You can see young players come to practice and younger coaches think, man, what is going on with him?” Muschamp said. “I say, ‘Right now there is a lot going on in this guy’s life.’ You forget about that sometimes.”
These new Gamecocks have already tasted the ups and downs a season can bring. It opened with the surprising upset loss to UNC, then featured 72 points against an overmatched opponent.
Then came an afternoon when Williams-Brice Stadium delivered all its fury and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide did the same.
Fan sentiment has gone back and forth, at times reaching players through social media, and this hasn’t been a case of three comfortable training wheels games.
So in the end, the coach’s advice boils down to: This is already complicated, so uncomplicate what you can.
“I tell them all,” Muschamp said, “lead a very boring life in the fall. That’s what you need to lead.”