COLUMBIA -- University of South Carolina football head coach Will Muschamp is eager for his Gamecocks to take the field this year after a long summer.
"It's great to get the season started," Muschamp said at a press conference at Williams-Brice …
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"It's great to get the season started," Muschamp said at a press conference at Williams-Brice Stadium on Tuesday. "We made progress through training camp."
The Gamecocks will get to see just how much progress when they play host to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Saturday in both teams' season opener. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
"We're well prepared for Saturday," Muschamp said.
The Gamecocks will be taking on a Coastal squad that has its head coach, Joe Moglia, back after he took a medical leave of absence last season due to intense lung inflammation. This will be Moglia's first year coaching the Chanticleers as a Football Bowl Subdivision school since he missed out on the team's first year in the Sun Belt Conference last year. Then-newly-hired offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell took over as interim head coach while Moglia was away.
Muschamp said his players are ready for the season to begin.
"They're tired of hitting each other," said Muschamp, whose team is coming off a surprising 9-4 season. "Training camp is repetitive. They're all looking forward to (the season)."
The Gamecocks will have a textbook running back-by-committee situation this season.
"All four running backs deserve to play," Muschamp said. "They've earned the opportunity."
These running backs include junior Mon Denson - 41 carries for 152 yards for two touchdowns last season- junior Rico Dowdle - third on the team in rushing last year with 251 yards on 66 carries in eight games - junior A.J. Turner - last year's leading rusher with 531 yards on 98 carries (5.4 yards per rush) and three touchdowns - and former Crestwood High School standout junior Ty'Son Williams - second on the team in rushing last season with 471 yards on 95 carries and a touchdown.
Overall, Muschamp feels good about his offense.
"(Jake) Bentley had a 65 to 68 percent completion percentage in team drills during camp", he said when asked about Bentley and his receivers' chemistry. "Our running backs also catch the ball well. I like the progress we've made throwing the football."
The Gamecocks look to run an up-tempo offense this season.
"We have to dictate the tempo and have the mentality of a play caller," Muschamp said. "When we step on the field, we're expected to play at a high level."
Muschamp said he did not yet know his depth charts on both lines of scrimmage.
"It's about who finishes the game, not starts the game," he said.
He said the team expects to play four different tight ends.
On the defensive side of the ball, Muschamp has his eye on a few key players.
"(Defensive lineman) Shameik (Blackshear) has changed his body and gotten stronger and (defensive back) Jaycee Horn is a ball hawk," he said. "(Defensive back) J.T. (Ibe) has been cleared and has done a fantastic job, and (defensive linemen) Keir (Thomas) and Javon (Kinlaw) have done a good job rushing the ball. Now they just need to do it on gamed ay."
Muschamp wants the team to focus on the task at hand.
"Every week is a season," he said of the team's motto for this seaason. "I want everyone to dial in."
Muschamp also wants the team to adopt to his "all gas, no breaks" mentality.
"(I came up with it) in the offseason," he said. "It's about pushing the envelope and not holding up for anything."
Muschamp hopes his young players aren't intimidated by the big stage.
"You never know how a guy is going to react in front of 80,000 people," he said.
However, he is confident in the hard work the team has put in in the offseason.
"We've put this team in a situation to be successful," he said.
Unfortunately, the Gamecocks will not be completely healthy for Saturday. Offensive lineman Wyatt Campbell is about a month away from coming back from a knee injury and wide receiver Chad Terrell is not expected to be back until later in September after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Tennessee last season. Also with an ACL injury, running back Lavonte Valentine is about a week away from returning, and backup wide receiver and special teams player Chavis Dawkins is doubtful with a high ankle sprain.
Most notably for those from in Sumter, Tyreek Johnson, a standout defensive lineman from Lakewood High will miss the entire season with a torn ACL.
Also, Javon Charleston is suspended for getting arrested on assault and burglary charges back on June 17.
On an even worse note, defensive back Tavyn Jackson has retired from football due to a sickle cell disorder.
"It's unfortunate," Muschamp said of Jackson's condition. "But he will be successful in whatever he does."
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