Josh Kendall

Muschamp’s biggest job: Getting the offense on track

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp gmelendez@thestate.com

Will Muschamp will be a better coach his second time around in part because his experience allows him to anticipate more issues that might come up in his program. He demonstrated that skill Monday during his introductory press conference by answering in advance questions he expected to arise.

“The first question obviously would be about the offense,” South Carolina’s new head football coach said.

That’s some pretty good predicting on his part. The offense was Muschamp’s undoing as Florida’s head coach from 2011-2014. While the Gators consistently had one of the SEC’s best defenses, they never even managed mediocrity on the offensive side of the ball.

Florida’s average finish in total offense was 12th in the SEC during Muschamp’s four-year run, and Muschamp went through three offensive coordinators in his four years there.

“He’s got to nail the offensive coordinator hire and he has to get it right the first time,” ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer said of Muschamp during the network’s College Football Playoff coverage Sunday. “That's where he really struggled at Florida. In four years he used three. Whether it was Charlie Weis, whether it was Brent Pease or Kurt Roper, they were never able to get any fluidity, any explosive plays established on that side of the football.”

Roper is expected to rejoin Muschamp in Columbia, leaving an assistant’s position with the Cleveland Browns to become South Carolina’s offensive coordinator. Roper was the last of Muschamp’s three offensive coordinators with the Gators, and he was statistically the most successful. Roper’s hiring has not been announced yet by Muschamp or South Carolina.

Florida finished No. 12 in total offense (367.7 yards per game) and eighth in scoring offense (30.3 points per game) in Roper’s one year as offensive coordinator. Prior to joining Muschamp’s staff at Florida, he was the offensive coordinator at Duke for six seasons.

There also will be some Gus Malzahn influence on South Carolina’s offense, Muschamp said. Muschamp learned a lot about administrating an offense under Malzahn at Auburn last year, he said.

“It outstanding for me to work with Gus Malzahn,” Muschamp said. “That’s really identity-wise what we want to be, we want to be on the ball, we want to be fast, we want to be physical.

“We want to snap the ball as many times as possible and score as many points as we can, and that’s what we plan on doing. The more times you snap it, the better chance you’ve got to score, I have figured that out.”

Muschamp’s philosophy as a head coach is to be heavily involved in the defense, special teams and recruiting and “be around the offense enough to where the offensive kids know we are there,” he said.

Athletics director Ray Tanner was impressed with the preview of the offense Muschamp gave to his team during a brief meeting Sunday evening.

“I’m an athletics director and I’ve never coached football, but it is my job to go from A to Z in all components of the program and I had a process that I went through from academics to student athlete welfare to offense to defense to staffing. I went through everything,” Tanner said.

“I wanted to hear what he said about offense because he does have that reputation of ‘I’m a stalwart on defense, and I’ll be able to prepare our defense as good as anybody can in the country, but I was interested in where he’s going to go offensively and his plan going offensively is actually a little more aggressive than I anticipated. I think we’re going to score some points.”

Grounded Gator

Florida’s offenses struggled during Will Muschamp’s tenure as head coach at the school:

Total Offense

Year

SEC rank (Avg.)

2014

12th (367.7)

2013

14th (316.7)

2012

12th (334.0)

2011

10th (328.7)

Scoring Offense

Year

SEC rank (Avg.)

2014

8th (30.3)

2013

14th (18.8)

2012

10th (26.5)

2011

8th (25.5)

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