Will Muschamp: 'We were a soft organization last year. Call it like it is'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday February 22, 2017

Will Muschamp reached a bowl game in his first season at South Carolina after inheriting a 3-9 team. By most accounts, it was a successful season.

But as Muschamp and South Carolina open spring practice this week, the coach made clear in his opening press conference that it wasn’t good enough.

“Stats can be very misleading at times, depending on how you want to spin it,” Muschamp said Wednesday. “We struggled to run the ball, offensively, and we struggled to stop the run, defensively. A lot of that goes back to toughness, goes back to the core values of our program. We want to be a physically tough football team, and we weren’t. We were a soft organization last year. It was disappointing to put that on the field. Call it like it is.

“Physical is a state of mind. We’ve got to continue to buy into that and understand that. It’s not just both lines of scrimmages. That’s where it starts, but it’s all 11 on the field at one time. We have to be a tougher team moving forward.”

The Gamecocks opened the year 2-4, followed by four wins in their next five games. They were No. 107 in rushing offense at 3.6 yards per carry, and No. 92 in rushing defense at 4.8 yards per carry allowed.

South Carolina went 1-4 in true road games, with the lone win being the 13-10 opener at Vanderbilt. They averaged 10.2 points per game in those road games and scored multiple touchdowns once in those games.

“We didn’t handle some things well on the road, didn’t handle adversity well at times,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got to learn to play through that.”

But lest you think Muschamp was all negative at his presser. There was plenty of positive. The Gamecocks scored at least 30 points in four of their last seven, including a 46-39 overtime loss to USF in the Birmingham Bowl. And since the offseason started, Muschamp has seen the mindset he wants.

“The first recruiting weekend in January, there was 25-30 guys voluntarily in the weight room. I thought (head strength coach Jeff) Dillman was having a lift. He said no, they’re coming in on their own to do extra work.

Those sort of things are signs you want to have in your program. That’s what good programs do. That’s what good players do. They want to work on their own. I asked the guys in the morning how much they’re doing outside of the building. The really good players I’ve been around do it all the time. You didn’t have to ask them to do it. We’ve got guys doing that.”

South Carolina officially begins spring practice on Feb. 25, and the spring game is on April 1.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.