South Carolina coach Will Muschamp has a Sunday morning meeting with his offensive and defensive coordinator after every game of the season.
“The first thing (offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon) said when he walked in was, ‘I need to be more hard-headed in the run game. We needed to stay more with the run in the second quarter,’” Muschamp said.
The Gamecocks (1-1) play Marshall (2-0) on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. The coaches and players say they have turned their full attention to that game, but that didn’t happen until after the requisite soul-searching that comes with an embarrassing loss, much of it this week focused on their first-year offensive coordinator.
South Carolina ran the ball 20 times in a 41-17 loss to No. 3 Georgia. Only 10 times since 1964 (the last year for which full records are available) have the Gamecocks had fewer rushing attempts in a game. Muschamp and several players said immediately after the game that they wished South Carolina had run the ball more.
McClendon said the same thing when he met with Muschamp on Sunday morning, Muschamp said. Muschamp does not allow his coordinators to speak to the media during the season.
“There’s nobody that’s more hard on themselves than Bryan, I can tell you that, but we had a very productive conversation and moving forward, at the end of the day, we had 200 yards at halftime against a very good defense,” Muschamp said.
The Gamecocks, who finished the game with 54 yards on the ground, ran the ball six times in the second half, which Muschamp pointed out had a lot to do with the fact that they were down 27-10 when the offense got the ball for the first time in the second half and down 34-10 shortly after that. South Carolina had only 8:38 of possession time in the second half, just 3:03 in the fourth quarter.
“I trust coach BMac. I’m big into his scheme,” starting right tackle Blake Camper said. “I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes. I really believe in him. BMac had a good game plan. He’s a great offensive coordinator, and we trust him with everything.”
It’s not hard to see how McClendon might grow frustrated with the run game. South Carolina gained 7 yards on eight carries in the first quarter against Georgia.
“They had a pretty good defense. With them, you’re not going to break a lot of long runs. With them, you’ve got to try to wear them down and get them tired,” said junior running back Ty’Son Williams, who led South Carolina with six carries for 26 yards against Georgia. “That’s when I think you’ll start seeing more movement with them. With the running game, sometimes you have to stick with it, because it can be ugly at times. Eventually, it’ll break.”
The coaching staff has told the running backs they will be more stubborn with the running game moving forward this season, Williams said. Georgia played mostly with its two safeties back in pass coverage, which, in theory, should make it easier to run the ball because neither is available for immediate run support, and quarterback Jake Bentley expects the Gamecocks will keep seeing that coverage, he said.
“I think you learn whether you have success or you don’t have success,” Muschamp said. “You can back and, whether you won the game big or you had a tough loss, you always self-evaluate very hard on what you would have done differently. And I think that’s true with every game. It gets exposed in a loss, you know, because there’s questions. We just need to be more effective.”