Will Muschamp talks Upstate talent, versatile freshman
Standing in the town that gave South Carolina’s football team D.J. Swearinger and Kelcy Quarles, Will Muschamp made the point.
“A lot of great Gamecocks have come out of Greenwood,” Muschamp said Tuesday. “So we’re excited to get up here and see the folks.
“The talent level (in-state) is outstanding. It’s maybe not the volume of players. But there are very good players in the state and really good high school football coaches.”
On his Spurs Up tour stop in Greenwood, Muschamp took time to talk about a few players from the area. Starting defensive end Marquavius Lewis starred for the Eagles, and defensive lineman Dexter Wideman came from nearby Saluda.
Several times, Muschamp said Lewis taking a step forward in productivity will be vital in restoring the Gamecock defense. And Lewis could find himself rushing from a few new spots.
“We need to do a better job of letting him rush inside on some third downs,” Muschamp said, praising the senior’s character. “Get him matched up on some guards and some things like that. We’re going to move him around.”
Muschamp said the staff has seen improved consistency from Wideman, but needs more on that front.
QB with legs
Quarterback Michael Scarnecchia has found himself on the outside of the battle for South Carolina’s starting spot. Coaches said repeatedly, Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain have separated themselves, with Lorenzo Nuñez’s résumé incomplete and the arrival of Jake Bentley looming.
Muschamp explained why the redshirt sophomore isn’t in the discussion.
“Where we are right now offensively, and I’ve told Michael this, we have to have a quarterback with legs,” Muschamp said. “We don’t have enough around him to be a pure dropback team. That’s not who we’re going to be right now. We’re not good enough at other positions.
“We’re going to have to use a quarterback in the run game, and that’s not his strong suit.”
Muschamp took a chance to reiterate how unproven his offense is. Beyond the quarterback battle heavy with freshmen and sophomores, the team has only a few receivers who have either seen the field or started a game.
It’s the same story at several other positions.
“We have so many unknowns on offense,” Muschamp said. “You look at running back, I think David Williams and A.J. Turner are talented guys. They’ve never been the feature back in the Southeastern Confernece. At tight end, I think Hayden Hurst and K.C. Crosby are very talented. They haven’t started more than three games combined.”
The coach joked his team is so green, he might have to push a few young players out of the tunnel in early games.
Where he fits
Incoming freshman Evan Hinson might end up at wide receiver instead of tight end. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Florida product can fit either spot.
Without committing, Muschamp said Hinson’s skills allow him to straddle that divide. He said Hinson is the sort of player coaches snag from the basketball court, but he’s got the toughness and inelegance to handle tight end.
“He’s a guy that’s going to be hard for a defensive coordinator to count because athletically he can do some things as far as playing receiver but he also can line up in the core and block well as a tight end,” Muschamp said. “That’s the kind of athlete you’re looking for.”