Expectations for USC football in Will Muschamp's first season
Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?
It probably is, according to SBNation’s Bill Connelly. “Year Zero” is Connelly’s term when a transition looks to be so daunting that it’s unfair to judge the new coach on his first year.
“This is a Year Zero situation to me. We'll start judging them in 2017,” Connelly wrote in his preview of South Carolina for his website. “This year is about putting the right pieces in the right places and nothing more. Columbia was the home of one of the ultimate Year Zero experiences when Lou Holtz went 0-11, then took the Gamecocks to back-to-back January 1 bowls. SC isn't going 0-12, but this could be a tough season.”
Connelly is one of college football’s top number-crunchers, and I say that with a lot of respect. While I’m not a slave to statistics, I think the advanced metrics that are slowly making their way into football are fascinating, and I think Connelly’s work is almost always interesting.
You can really dig deep into the numbers here, but I’ll point out a few things that caught my eye. In South Carolina offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s one season as Florida’s offensive coordinator, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had more than twice as many catches as any other player on the team. In short, Roper is not afraid to pick a horse and ride him all fall.
Paging Deebo Samuel.
Connelly also deduced that the Gamecocks offensive line slipped last year, finishing 62nd in the nation in adjusted line yards and 67th in adjusted sack rate, “a clear regression from 2014,” he said.
His conclusion mirrors mine for the season. Success or failure. A bowl game or home for the holidays is going to be determined by the toss-up games on the Gamecocks’ schedule.
“South Carolina faces five games with a less than 30 percent win probability and only two above 64 percent,” Connelly writes. “To get back to a bowl game, then, the Gamecocks would in theory need to win four of the five games between 36 and 64 percent. That might be asking a lot.”