Muschamp focused solely on South Carolina, not redemption
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Will Muschamp isn't worried about what did or didn't happen at his only other head coaching stop. Everything the new coach does is all about South Carolina.
''I don't know that previous stops affect anything,'' said Muschamp, hired last December to revive Steve Spurrier's once dominant program. ''I'm excited to be here. We've hired an outstanding staff and I really like the buy in and work ethic of our players.''
Muschamp probably doesn't want to spend too much time thinking about his four seasons at Florida from 2011-14. He led the Gators to an 11-2 mark and seemed headed to bigger things, like national champion Florida coaches Spurrier and Urban Meyer. Instead, the Gators imploded the next two years and Muschamp was let go before the 2014 season ended.
A big reason things went awry was Muschamp's reliance on a strong defense and a ground-first attack.
This time around, Muschamp said he'll let the Gamecocks' strengths dictate their style. He won't force a round peg in a square hole or make a team light at running back grind things out when there are several fast, strong receivers around.
''It's not about what you know as a coach or what you scheme and what you think your players can do, it's about what they can do,'' Muschamp said. ''I think that's something in camp, especially with some younger players on both sides of the ball, we're going to have to make some decisions early on about what we can do.''
The decisions for Muschamp include quarterback, where former walk-on Perry Orth, who started eight games last season, and freshman Brandon McIlwain, duel for the job. Orth has experience, but McIlwain is a rising prospect who enrolled early to go through spring workouts.
Muschamp is eager for that to play out as he prepares for the season.
''The goal really is on September first to be fresh, fast and physical,'' he said.
QB QUESTIONS: The Gamecocks were a mess at quarterback last year (three starters in the first four games) and things might not get much better. Last year's starter after fall camp, Connor Mitch, transferred after getting hurt. Perry Orth started six games, but was inconsistent. Look for freshmen Brandon McIlwain or Jake Bentley to get long looks. McIlwain is a two-sport star (he was considered a high-round MLB draft prospect) with a strong arm and solid grasp of the offense. Bentley had an offer from Alabama, but chose to follow his father, South Carolina running backs coach Bobby Bentley. Lorenzo Nunez will work mostly at receiver, but Muschamp says will have a hand in the quarterback race.
WHERE'S SPURRIER? South Carolina fans accustomed to Steve Spurrier might have to wait until a November trip to The Swamp to see their former coach. Spurrier stunned fans last October when he quit in midseason, then shocked them again last month when he gave up his $100,000 school ambassador's job for a similar role with his alma mater, Florida. Spurrier said he just wanted to go back to Gainesville.
KEY GAMES: It starts in a hurry with road games at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State the first two weeks. Start 0-2 and watch fans paint Muschamp as unprepared and inadequate.
SEASON OPENER: South Carolina has won seven straight over Vanderbilt, but has lost its past five SEC road games. If the Commodores show up with an improved defense, the Gamecocks untested attack could get stuck in the mud.
PREDICTION: South Carolina won't be favored against any of its nine Power Five opponents and a second-straight three-win season seems likely.
College football website: collegefootball.ap.org