Muschamp back on field as South Carolina coach
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) New South Carolina coach Will Muschamp quickly strode onto the practice field Tuesday, and wasted no time in pushing the pace for a Gamecock team filled with question marks.
''Let's go, let's go, let's go,'' Muschamp yelled, quickly rolling his hands as offense and defense ran through scrimmage situations.
Muschamp, back in charge for the first time since his firing at Florida in 2014, showed he'd challenge his players more than they had been in the last couple of former coach Steve Spurrier's 10-plus seasons at South Carolina.
''We threw a lot at them and we've got a lot to work on,'' Muschamp said. ''The tempo at practice is something we've got to vastly improve, but we will. We'll come along with it.''
Muschamp is looking to redeem himself in the Southeastern Conference after going 28-21 in four seasons at Florida. He was named Spurrier's permanent replacement in December – interim South Carolina coach Shawn Elliott remained as offensive line coach – and has been focused on little else than turning around the Gamecocks after a 3-9 season last year.
Senior linebacker T.J. Holloman said the offseason workouts were like nothing he'd seen with the Gamecocks. ''The conditioning was hard. The weightlifting was hard,'' he said. ''It prepared us for this.''
Muschamp concentrated on what he calls ''ETD,'' an acronym for effort, toughness and discipline. He did not see enough of it on last year's film and wants to make sure it shows up when the Gamecocks take the field this fall.
''You either compete, or you don't,'' Muschamp stated this week. ''That's what some of our guys need to learn, how to compete a little bit more.''
They'll be plenty of time for competition given South Carolina's pre-spring depth chart. Five players were listed as starting quarterback and every passer was in a yellow, non-contact jersey for the first spring workout.
Muschamp said it's impossible to give proper reps to five players, so his offensive staff will need to whittle that down to a more manageable three early on this spring.
Former walk-on Perry Orth returns as the starting quarterback, although most eyes will be on freshman Brandon McIlwain, who left high school early and enrolled this semester to get a jump on the offensive plan by co-offensive coordinators Kurt Roper and Bryan McClendon.
The attack will be fast-paced if Tuesday was an indication. Muschamp, in a black long-sleeved Gamecocks shirt and khaki shorts, had the whistle in his mouth at every snap. After the play, Muschamp barked out commands to players who didn't line up properly or used poor technique.
It was a dramatic difference from the often laid-back approach of Spurrier, who'd stop his golf cart at one area, then bug off to a different group after a few minutes.
Muschamp was not concerned with his players' adjustments. ''Change happens in life,'' he said, and it's up to his players to grow with the new program or drop off.
Holloman said the players have bought into what they've been through so far.
''Everyone's positive, ready to go with a new fresh start,'' he said.
After his dismissal at Florida, Muschamp served as Auburn's defensive coordinator last season before taking over at South Carolina.
Muschamp did not see Tuesday as a dramatic personal return to the top, just another session doing what he loves best – mixing with coaches and teaching players how to succeed.
''It was a typical first day,'' Muschamp said. ''A lot of anxiety out there, a lot going on. We've got to understand that, but we've still got to demand excellence.''