Josh Kendall

Gamecocks growing pains on display as coach makes apology

This is all a regular part of a coaching regime change. It’s just been so long since South Carolina has had one that it’s easy to forget.

The Gamecocks and first-year head coach and in the early stages of the “We are going to find out who really wants to play” phase of rebuilding. It happens every place there’s a coaching change following a disappointing season, which is to say almost every coaching change, and it’s always kind of hard for a fan base to watch.

South Carolina played terribly Saturday in a 27-14 loss to Mississippi State. Immediately after the game, Muschamp indicated that all his players needed to change their approach to the game.

On Tuesday, he walked back that comment. It’s only some of his players, he said after reviewing the film.

“I told the team this morning, that I apologize to the majority of our guys because they do prepare the right way, they do approach things the right way, do try, do give great effort, do have good buy in, do try to play with toughness and do try to play with great discipline, but we have some guys who don’t,” Muschamp said. “It is what it is in situations and we’re trying to do the best we can do at some positions. Those guys have to improve. That to me was the most disappointing.”

The age-old solution to focusing a player who is not playing up to par is to bench them, but Muschamp, like many rebuilding coaches, has few options there because of the lack of depth in the Gamecocks roster. South Carolina’s new coaching staff is fond of the phrase “Next Man Up.” It’s intended to suggest that if a player is felled by injury, then the next player is ready to go with no excuses from the team. It’s a philosophy that can also apply when a player is underperforming, but it only works if the “next man up” is ready to play.

The Gamecocks just aren’t there yet.