Josh Kendall

South Carolina’s new coach doesn’t mince words: His group has ‘under-produced’

While one of his former running backs played in the NFL playoffs, Thomas Brown met with the media Sunday at Colonial Life Arena to discuss what he wants from his new running backs.

“I think they have under-produced in the past from my opinion, I think probably in everybody’s opinion,” said Brown, who was hired last week to coach South Carolina’s running backs.

Brown was introduced to Gamecocks fans, and the local media, at halftime of the USC men’s basketball game against Missouri. That game was going on at the same time Melvin Gordon and the San Diego Chargers were playing New England in the AFC divisional playoffs. Gordon finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting at Wisconsin while Brown was the Badgers running backs coach.

In 2019, Brown will have a running backs room that includes seniors Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams and Mon Denson and maybe A.J. Turner, who could play running back, defensive back or both next season. The Gamecocks ranked 12th in the SEC in rushing last year with 1528 yards per game. Dowdle was South Carolina’s leading rusher with 654 yards, and he finished 19th in the conference in yards per carry (5.32).

“Competition solves most of your problems,” Brown said. “I’ll be on them every single day, hold them to a standard. I normally always play two guys but I’ll play as many guys as necessary to win.”

Brown, 32, has also coached at Marshall, Georgia and Miami, where he was offensive coordinator last year before head coach Mark Richt resigned. South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, who has yet to speak to the media since hiring Brown, spoke to Brown on Monday, the day after Richt retired.

“It happened pretty fast,” Brown said.

Brown will be reunited with former college teammate and friend Bryan McClendon, who is the Gamecocks offensive coordinator. That was the biggest fact in Brown deciding to accept Muschamp’s offer immediately, he said.

“It was funny because Coach McClendon and I talked a year ago about maybe getting back on the same side at some point, not sure how it would happen, but it happened this way and I’m excited about it,” he said.

Brown, who did not call plays at Miami, said it was too early to speculate on how or if his hiring might change South Carolina’s offense. The Gamecocks finished seventh in the SEC in yards per game last year (425.6), which was McClendon’s first calling plays.

“I looked up to him a bunch when I was playing, how he handle himself on and off the field,” Brown said. “It’s the same thing from a coaching standpoint.”