USC Gamecocks Football

‘It’s 2019, right?’: The NCAA rule change Will Muschamp 100 percent wants to see

It’s a drum South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp has been beating for years now — more technological advances allowed in college football.

Muschamp’s time in the NFL gave him some insight into the ways technology can help players and coaches, and there’s one area in particular that frustrates him, where the NCAA is 25 years behind the professionals — radios in quarterbacks’ helmets.

During this Thursday radio show ‘Carolina Calls,’ Muschamp received a question from a fan about using hand signals to communicate play calls between the coach, QB and other players. That led him into an explanation of the complicated method USC uses to get plays from the sideline onto the field.

“We have four people that are signaling. Some are live, meaning they’re actually sending the play or formation in. Some of them are dead, meaning they’re not signaling anything that means anything,” Muschamp said.

The Gamecocks also use signs with various images that can signal plays, but everything changes from game to game.

“A lot of that goes back to tempo and being able to change things up week to week. Unfortunately in our league, you can’t trust everybody. But you got to change up signals and different things and such and you’ll have people who will film you as far as those things are concerned. That happens,” Muschamp said.

Several years ago, Muschamp and his fellow SEC coaches voted unanimously to allow those radio headsets, which allow a coach to speak directly in a quarterback’s before the play. But the NCAA still prohibits it, leading to the current convoluted system. The NFL, by comparison, started allowing it in 1994.

“I would love (radios). It would eliminate all that garbage. I’m 100% for it and I don’t know why, it’s 2019, right?” Muschamp said.

And being the defensive-minded coach he is, Muschamp “absolutely” agreed with host Todd Ellis that a designated defensive player should be allowed to have a radio as well, something the NFL implemented in 2008.

RECEIVING OPTIONS

Muschamp was also asked Thursday about the Gamecocks’ receiving options behind top wideouts Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith. Those two currently account for more than 40% of the team’s receptions and just under 50% of the squad’s receiving yards.

“(Sophomore Josh Vann) has done some really nice things. What really excited me last week was his catch against Kentucky. He broke a tackle on the sideline, cut up the field ... and we need Josh to do that. Josh is more than capable of doing that, he’s been a little inconsistent with some things but he certainly has the ability to do it,” Muschamp said.

“Chavis Dawkins has been steady Eddie for us as a guy that does everything right, blocks the right people, is a very physical guy in the run game. Obviously you remember the touchdown pass he caught against A&M last year in the end zone, what a phenomenal catch. He has the ability to really continue to take off for us.

“And the guy, the young guy that we’re excited for is Xavier Legette. A guy that has got big time ability. He played quarterback in high school, he’s never played the receiver position before, so there’s a lot of learning going on for him right now, a lot of new things happening for him every single day, but he’s a guy that’s got tremendous upside, and will continue to play more as we continue to move forward.”

Muschamp also touched on USC’s tight ends, praising breakout starter Kyle Markway’s consistency and transfer Nick Muse’s development and raw talent. He added that freshman Keshawn Toney, who has played in one game this season, will see the field again against Georgia.

WE EXPECT HIM TO PLAY WELL AND HE WILL PLAY WELL

The first time Ryan Hilinski played on the road for South Carolina football, things didn’t go so well. He completed just 13 of 30 attempts for 166 yards and a touchdown, while also getting credited with a bizarre fumble recovered in the end zone and an interception that stalled out USC’s comeback attempt in a 34-14 loss.

But as the Gamecocks prepare for Hilinski’s second true road start at No. 3 Georgia, Muschamp isn’t worried about his freshman signal caller. That confidence, Muschamp said, is borne out of what he saw from Hilinski after that Missouri game.

“Ryan has been so mature in how he’s handled his situation and coming in, not playing well against Missouri. He walks in the defensive room and in front of all the defensive kids said, ‘I gave up 14 points and that’s on me,’” Muschamp said. “It takes a lot for a young man to do that. That’s a pretty mature guy that’s able to stand in front of a bunch of teammates as a freshman — 18, 19 years old — and stand in front of a bunch of guys like that and say that.

“I was extremely impressed hearing that. He’s handled himself well.”

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Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.
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