In the last five years, John Scott Jr. has worked under head coaches Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech and Chad Morris at Arkansas. His first five practices as South Carolina’s defensive line coach have been a welcome change from those years.
“I like the way we do it here better,” Scott said Thursday as he met with the media for the first time since being hired in January to replace Lance Thompson on the Gamecocks coaching staff.
The main difference is the pace of practice. With the Red Raiders and Razorbacks, whose head coaches ran famously up-tempo offenses, practices went just as fast. Where those teams devoted only a few periods each practice to a slower pace that allows more time for correcting mistakes between plays, South Carolina under head coach Will Muschamp has the opposite approach, a limited number of up-tempo periods to allow the offense to practice that but mostly a slower pace.
In a fast practice “sometimes you’re not able to coach the fundamentals because everything is going so fast a kid gets in survival mode,” Scott Jr. said. “If a kid has screwed up three times in a row with technique, you can’t correct it until you get to see it on tape.”
Muschamp’s practices are also more physical than Kingsbury’s or Morris’, Scott said, reminding him of his time with now Army head coach Jeff Monken at Georgia Southern.
“The thing I love about it is it’s old-school,” Scott Jr. said. “It reminds me a lot of what we did at Georgia Southern with Coach Monken. The physicality at practice, I think that’s great. When you look at the best football teams, they are physical up front. As a defensive line coach, the more you can get used to playing double teams and chip blocks in practice, I think the better it makes your football team and the tougher it makes your football team.
“You are not going to hear me complain at all. I like what we do.”
Practice is not the only way USC has been a comfortable fit for Scott, who also has coached with the New York Jets and at Western Carolina. The Greer native won a state championship as a player in Williams-Brice Stadium and remembers coming to Columbia for Hootie and the Blowfish concerts while in high school. Now he works in a building where former Hootie frontman Darius Rucker paid for the players’ recording studio.
“When I went over to my interview, I went over to the old spot and I was like, ‘This place hasn’t changed at all,’” Scott said. “Then coach brought me over and showed me this new building and, ‘My goodness. This place is unbelievable. Unbelievable.’ They did it right. This is a great facility.
“This was a no-brainer for me.”