Josh Kendall

Is ‘fresh, fast and physical’ possible for Gamecocks?

South Carolina’s Rebound Season, or at least what Gamecock fans hope will be their team’s rebound season, starts Tuesday morning.

The storylines abound – Will Muschamp’s second chance, the four-headed quarterback competition, rebuilding a dismal defense – but don’t let that obscure from the No. 1 focus. Muschamp didn’t on Monday, when South Carolina held its annual preseason media day.

“The goal Sept. 1 is to be fresh, fast and physical,” Muschamp said in his opening statement.

Although it seems so far away now, Sept. 1 will get here before we know it, and that means football season. South Carolina faces Vanderbilt in Nashville at 8 that Thursday night, and no team in the SEC has a more important opener.

“We need to have a physical camp,” Muschamp said. “With that being said, we need to stay healthy.”

Where’s that balance? That’s what Muschamp has to figure out in the next 29 practices. He inherits a roster that will be running uphill even if it’s at full strength a month from now. If it’s not, the hill just gets that much steeper.

“A lot of coaches talk about being physical. We're going to be about it,” Muschamp insisted. “You're going to see our practice; they're going to be physical practices. Now, we don't go to the ground. A lot of these new practice suggestions, we've been doing for a long, long time. We'll probably only have two scrimmages where we take people to the ground in fall camp. You can still have great physicality at practice and not take anybody to the ground. Part of my talk tonight with the team is about how we practice. You've got to take care of each other. You can still compete and have great physicality at practice, and be a great physical edge for our football team, and not get anybody hurt.”

At least that’s what he’s hoping. He’ll start to find out Tuesday morning.

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