Josh Kendall

Snap counts and the tiny details that cost football coaches sleep

South Carolina senior defensive lineman Dante Stallworth believes he can play 70 snaps during a game and still be effective. Teammate Taylor Stallworth says the number probably falls somewhere between 50 and 60.

Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp says the formula for making that decision is too complicated to set a blanket number that holds true every week.

“A lot goes into that. How hot is it? Are you playing a tempo team? Are you playing a team that’s going to huddle?” Muschamp said.

Things like how many snaps each player is playing, especially on the defensive line, are the kind of tiny details that football coaches like Muschamp obsess over.

“When a big guy runs out of gas, he’s never getting it back,” Muschamp said. “He’s not like a skill guy, he’s not getting it back that day. He’s done. We have to watch that. I will watch the defense and say, ‘We look tired. We need to sub more.’ I am constantly asking, ‘How many snaps has he played?’”

South Carolina’s coaches chart snaps and Muschamp reviews those numbers at the quarter breaks and at halftime.

“At halftime, I’m saying, ‘This guy has played 40 snaps already guys. We have to sub him more in the second half,’” he said. “That’s a constant discussion.”

The combination of the lineup also is a factor in substitution patterns, he said.

“Sometimes you want different combinations of guys in the game, and I will tell the coaches, ‘Don’t let these two guys play together,’” Muschamp said. “When you get two young defensive tackles in a game, we may have an issue. Those are things we balance out. Over the next two weeks there will be a lot of discussions about those things.”