Gamecocks look to get back on track vs. Charleston Southern

Gamecocks look to get back on track vs. Charleston Southern
South Carolina head coach, Will Muschamp, at left, waits with his team before the North Carolina game in Charlotte on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA) (Source: Sideline Carolina)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s been one week since the Gamecocks suffered a disappointing loss to North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium.

Since then, fans have had a hard time coming to grips with the setback. According to head coach Will Muschamp, so have the Gamecocks.

"You know what, we are pissed off too,” he told reporters. “As coaches and as a staff, we are a little bit of a bunker mentality. I don't read your articles and podcasts or whatever you do. So at the end of the day, it is about what do we need to do to win. Let's try to rally to win games and that is what we are going to do as a staff, and that is what we (gonna) do as a team, and that is what we (gonna) do as an organization. So help us win games. That would be my message - go help us win some football games. That's what we plan on doing."

For the Gamecocks, that plan hopefully goes into effect Saturday when they host Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers used several UofSC facilities to prepare for the upcoming game with Hurricane Dorian passing through Charleston.

The Buccaneers are hoping to rebound from a 46-13 loss to Furman and give first-year head coach Autry Denson. The former Notre Dame assistant replaces Mark Tucker after two seasons with CSU.

The last thing South Carolina wants is to become a footnote for Denson’s coaching career as the first team he got a victory against. In their quest to avoid that, the Gamecocks will look to backup Ryan Hilinski to lead the offense. The freshman takes over for senior Jake Bentley after he suffered a mid-foot sprain against North Carolina.

"I think he's done a really nice job learning the offense and spending the time he needs to spend - whether it's in the film room or the weight room or the practice field. I'm excited about Ryan. He's got a lot of arm talent and ability. I think he'll play extremely well. We've got a lot of confidence in him and the job that he'll do on Saturday playing quarterback here at South Carolina."

Hilinski takes over an offense that showed promise in the first half only to sputter in the fourth quarter. South Carolina managed to put up just seven points and 101 yards in the second half. With that in mind, the offense looks to be more explosive in their home opener.

"We called 17 shots down the field. We do a pretty extensive quality control and self-evaluation of what we need to do to improve and get better,” Muschamp said. “I came in on Sunday and one of the first questions I asked to our offensive staff was that we need to attack the field vertically. So you go back and you look at it, we had 17 calls where the primary read was a vertical read down the field.

“With that being said, protection breaks down, the route is covered, which changes the coverage and changes the read obviously. But there were 17 shots called in the game. Not to say that they all were thrown because of different reasons that I just went through. We've got two guys that have been very effective in training camp in Bryan (Edwards) and Shi (Smith). And they've got to touch the ball more. We need to get more touches to those guys where we're guaranteed we're going to get the ball in their hands regardless of the coverage and circumstances. That's something we've talked about."

Defensively, the Gamecocks have a few things to fix as well. Will Muschamp’s defense surrender 483 total yards to the Tar Heels, which included the final pair of scoring drives that went 98 and 95 yards respectively.

“We just didn’t bring our feet on tackles,” said Gamecocks senior buck D.J. Wonnum. “We were arm tackling, tried to reach, and players in this league don’t go down like that.”

South Carolina hosts Charleston Southern at noon on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Copyright 2019 WIS. All rights reserved.