COLUMBIA - South Carolina has promoted Bryan McClendon to offensive coordinator, filling one of the Gamecocks' biggest items on the offseason to-do list.
Coach Will Muschamp announced the move on Friday, saying he talked with McClendon soon after the interim OC had helped the Gamecocks to a 26-19 victory in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
"In his two years here at South Carolina, he's been outstanding," Muschamp said of the 34-year-old McClendon. "You see the rapport he has with our staff, with our players, how he positively affects everybody in our entire organization."
McClendon will remain in charge of wide receivers going forward.
Muschamp also hired Dan Werner as quarterbacks coach. Werner was co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ole Miss for five seasons before moving on as an offensive analyst at Alabama this past season and will finish his duties with the Crimson Tide at the national title game Monday night before coming over to the Gamecocks.
McClendon and Werner fill the role of fired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who was let go after two seasons of disappointing offensive performances.
The Gamecocks ranked 13th in total offense and last in points in the 14-team Southeastern Conference in Muschamp's first season in 2016. Those numbers improved slightly this past fall as the Gamecocks were 12th in both SEC categories. That was not enough, however, to keep Muschamp from making a change.
Bobby Bentley, who took over as Gamecocks quarterbacks coach for the bowl game, will return to his regular spot coaching Gamecock runners.
Muschamp does not expect any more staff shuffling as South Carolina heads into the offseason.
McClendon hopes to keep South Carolina's offense advancing to next year, building off the team's 9-4 season which marked just the sixth time in school history the team won nine games or more.
"It's not like we're going to reinvent the wheel offensively," McClendon said. "One thing that we do have to is giving our players the best chance to be successful. That's all any coach can be asked to do."
McClendon showed his adaptability in the Outback Bowl when South Carolina fell behind 19-3 and had little success against Michigan's defense, which ranks third in the country.
But McClendon changed up some offensive blocking schemes to buy his group more time and the Gamecocks responded with 23 unanswered points for the win. South Carolina ended with 239 yards passing, only the second time this season the Wolverines allowed more than 200 yards through the air.
"That's what we're going to be constantly trying to do, getting creative and giving our guys ways to succeed," McClendon said.
McClendon's attack will have a rock-solid quarterback in rising junior Jake Bentley, who was named the bowl's most valuable player. It will also have dynamic playmaking receiver Deebo Samuel, who had six touchdowns before getting hurt against Kentucky on Sept. 16.
Samuel, who fractured his leg, is cleared for spring practice, Muschamp said.
Muschamp said he spoke with Alabama coach Nick Saban about Werner's ability and believes he'll help improve the team's quarterback play. Bentley's completion percentage dropped from 65 to 62 percent in his first full season as starter and the sophomore, at times, put the ball in danger as evidenced with 12 interceptions.
Muschamp said Werner's work with Ole Miss quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly was impressive.
Muschamp brought Werner in for a bowl practice and after watching him interact with McClendon knew the duo would click. "He and Bryan hit it off and I saw this was going to work," the coach said. "Dan's got a wealth of experience as a play caller, as a developer of quarterbacks."
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