HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The South Carolina Gamecocks finished last season on the losing end of a 28-0 Belk Bowl against the Virginia Cavaliers.
South Carolina finished 7-6 (4-4 in the SEC) but mainly got their wins by beating up the lesser opponents. Of their seven wins, only two came against teams with winning records in Missouri and Chattanooga.
Head coach Will Muschamp said his biggest thing for the Gamecocks to take the next step is to limit turnovers and score in the redzone.
“We had 56 trips in the red zone. We had 13 times and come away with no points and get eight turnovers,” Muschamp said. “That’s gut-wrenching. That’s psychological. That affects your football team, not just our offense.”
Muschamp enters his fourth season as head coach and his biggest task will be replacing star receiver Deebo Samuel who was taken in this year’s NFL Draft. Samuel broke out and had 11 touchdowns in 2018.
Receiver Bryan Edwards will try to replace Samuel.
He was the team’s second-leading receiver last season with over 800 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
Muschamp has high praise for Edwards, saying he’d be surprised if the wideout left Columbia and wasn’t the record holder in all major receiving categories for the university. And Edwards says he just wants to get out there and do that.
“I am just looking forward to going out there and playing,” Edwards said. “We have done all this weightlifting, and we have been running in the sun and all of that good stuff. I am looking forward to getting back to playing football.”
Quarterback Jake Bentley will look to improve from his 2018 campaign which saw a rise in touchdowns, but also a rise in turnovers.
Despite the ball control issues, Muschamp credited Bentley with having a “spark” since he got to South Carolina that has positively impacted the team.
“[We were] 2-4 his freshman year. We inserted him in the lineup. We finished bowl eligible at the end of the season,” Muschamp said. “There’s no question, in my opinion, his spark helped us get to that height.”
The Opelika, Alabama native also agreed with his head coach on that.
“I remember back in my freshman year when we were down 20-7 to Florida, and I was on the bench just moping, not playing good. Now in my senior year, it is my job to get us back, and I have got to go down the line to get the guys fired up,” Bentley said.
Bentley had 27 touchdowns and nearly 3,200 yards passing a season ago.
Linebacker T.J. Brunson was the first recruit Muschamp visited after he was hired and has not disappointed his head coach. He’s a star on campus, but being at SEC Media Says is new for him.
“Not something that I am used to. It is really cool to see the ins and outs,” Brunson said. “It is nice to see the things that go on besides just playing the game.”
Brunson has played in every game the past two seasons racking up 206 tackles.
The Gamecocks 2019 season begins against North Carolina August 31.