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  1. Four- or eight-team playoff? Muschamp says USC plans to be there December 18, 2018 South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp stepped into college football’s hottest debate of the week – whether it’s time for the sport to expand the current four-team playoff into an eight-game format. “We all say it’s about the student-athlete, but a lot of the decisions that are made are not about the student-athlete,” Muschamp said Tuesday. “Let’s just cut to the chase.” Muschamp’s main concern is protecting the current bowl system, and he fears an eight-game system would do that, he said. “I just don’t know how you’re going to structure it if you get into an eight-game playoff. We actually do have exams,” he said. “At the end of the day, let’s be realistic, it’s a very long season as it is then if you have an eight-game playoff, you’re probably going to have a 10-game regular season I would guess. It’s going to be more and more difficult to be able to structure it.” The Gamecocks (7-5) take on Virginia (7-5) in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 in Charlotte. “I think it’s a great reward for a young man to be able to go to Charlotte or, last year a place like Tampa, and spend a week at a nice hotel, get fed well and really enjoy a reward for a season,” Muschamp said. “That’s really what the bowl games are for. Whether it’s a four-game or eight-game, we plan on being there. That’s what we’re pushing for, and that’s what we want to be a part of.
  2. Good news on Gamecocks bowl injury front December 18, 2018 Just about every time South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp sits down in front of a microphone, he seems to explain another Gamecock will miss the Belk Bowl. On Tuesday, he delivered some good news. “Bryson-Allen Williams is practicing and looks good,” Muschamp said. “Jaycee Horn is practicing and looks good. Jaylin Dickerson is a little limited but we think will be full-speed by the end of the week and we think will be prepared for the bowl game, and Keir Thomas and Aaron Sterling continue to progress and we’ll see how they do moving forward.” That news echoes some of what he said last week, and means USC will be shoring up a couple of crucially thin spots against a multifaceted Virginia defense. Allen-Williams’ return helps a pass rush that has been without D.J. Wonnum most of the year. Horn missed the final two games of the regular season, and USC was so thin at defensive back, it played Jason Senn heavily against Chattanooga and Akron. Perhaps most notable is the return of Dickerson, who went from buried on the bench to playing a real role to pulling a hamstring and being lost for the final three games of the regular season. The return of him and Horn help offset the loss of Keisean Nixon, who is out with a fractured neck.
  3. Ryan Hilinski will arrive at South Carolina with a plan for handling the hype December 18, 2018 THE STATE The highest-rated high school quarterback since Stephen Garcia is expected to sign with South Carolina on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early signing period. Ryan Hilinski has been preparing for that day in part by seeking advice on how to handle the hype that Garcia admits he wishes he himself had handled better. “The expectations are certainly high,” Rivals director of recruiting Mike Farrell said. Hilinski is a four-star prospect, rated a .9731 on 247Sports’ Composite ranking system, almost identical to Garcia’s .9759 rating. Hilinski, 6-foot-4, 237 pounds, threw for more than 8,000 yards as a three-star starter at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California. “He’s got size. He can make all the throws. He processes information quickly,” Farrell said. “Those California kids, they get quarterback coaching from a young age so they are usually more developed technically, footwork-wise, maturity-wise than some of the other kids around the country.” Hilinski will need that maturity to carry the expectations already being placed on him by some South Carolina fans. He asked Gamecocks strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman and director of player development Marcus Lattimore for advice on how to do that, he said last week on SportsTalkSC. “They said, ‘You are in this position because you’ve been doing something right so just keep doing what you’ve been doing and don’t listen to stuff,’ ” Hilinski said on the radio program. “There’s a lot of stuff to hear and you have to not listen to it.” Rivals recruiting analyst Chad Simmons wouldn’t be surprised to see Hilinski get snaps during the 2019 season even though South Carolina is expected to return senior Jake Bentley, who has thrown for 2,953 yards this season. “Obviously, we think highly of him, just his understanding of the game. He’s a very mature kid, processes things well,” Simmons said. “He rose up our charts after seeing him person, seeing how he conducted himself.” Hilinski has “all the leadership traits you are looking for,” said Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. “He wants to take South Carolina to the next level. It was an opportunity he was looking for, a chance to make an early impact in an offense that fits his skill set. He’s a pocket guy that has shown he can make all the big-time college throws in a camp setting.” Hilinski has a large social media profile, but South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon suggested he “turn off his phone” upon arriving on campus, which he is expected to do in January. “When I get there I am going to ignore everything,” he told SportsTalkSC. “People can say whatever they want to say and I’m just going to do me and do what I’ve been doing to put me in this position.
  4. Zack Bailey confident he’ll bounce back from broken leg December 18, 2018 THE STATE Two weeks after suffering what he calls “the best injury that could have happened,” South Carolina offensive lineman Zack Bailey is remarkably upbeat about his recovery. “It’s been wonderful,” Bailey said Tuesday during a ceremony to recognize Gamecocks athletes who graduated this semester. “The coaches have done everything they can to make it easy for me.” Bailey, a senior guard, suffered a broken fibula in the third quarter of the final regular season game of the season, against Akron on Dec. 1. He wore a cast and got around with the help of a cart during Tuesday’s ceremony, but he expects to be full speed in time for the NFL combine in February, he said. “I should be good to go, 100 percent by then and back good as new,” Bailey said. He planned to attend the Belk Bowl and the bowl game activities with the Gamecocks, he said. “I want to see my brothers out there, hopefully getting the W,” he said. Bailey started 38 games at South Carolina. When he was injured on Dec. 1, it looked like his last start might be a costly one. He was taken off the field on a cart and worried that the injury could be much more significant. “When it happened, I didn’t know what was going on,” Bailey said. “I knew when I went down, it wasn’t good, but when we got back to the X-ray room and we did the X-ray, the injury turned out to be the best injury that could have happened. I was excited for that.” Bailey had surgery on Dec. 2 and hopes to be training at full speed by the middle of the January. This week, he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. “It’s amazing,” he said. “My family coming in and seeing them and having a wonderful time, me working so hard through these past three-and-a-half years has been really amazing.
  5. Raises coming for some members of South Carolina coaching staff December 17, 2018 Several members of South Carolina’s football coaching staff, including head coach Will Muschamp, will be rewarded Tuesday for their work in the Gamecocks’ 2018 season. Muschamp’s contract, along with those of Gamecocks offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner, will be discussed Tuesday by the executive and governance committee of the USC Board of Trustees. Muschamp, whose contract currently runs through 2023, is expected to receive an extension. He was paid $4.2 million in 2018 and already is slated to receive annual raises of $200,000 through the 2023 season. South Carolina finished 7-5 in Muschamp’s third season, and athletics director Ray Tanner indicated to The State after the final game of the regular season that Muschamp might be rewarded for another above .500 season. “I don’t want to be in a situation where I worry about him leaving. I’ll just leave it at that,” Tanner said then. “I really respect and admire the way that coach Muschamp runs his program. We are doing very well in football.” Muschamp is 22-16 in three seasons at USC, making him the winningest coach in school historyin his first three seasons. He is 12-12 in SEC games. McClendon just completed his first season as offensive coordinator. He was paid $650,000 for the season, and he is expected to receive a raise up to or above $1 million annually, according to a source. South Carolina’s offense finished sixth in the SEC in the regular season with 440.2 yards per game. The Gamecocks had 600 yards against No. 2 Clemson on Nov. 24. Werner just completed his first season with the team at a salary of $500,000. He was considered a candidate for Ole Miss’ vacant offensive coordinator position earlier this month, and his deal could be increased to $700,000 or more annually. Robinson already is paid $1.2 million annually, and his contract extends until the end of 2020.
  6. ‘A jewel’ for Gamecocks: Pickens shows off versatility in Shrine Bowl, even as a QB December 15, 2018 THE STATE .mcclatchy-embed{position:relative;padding:40px 0 56.25%;height:0;overflow:hidden;max-width:100%}.mcclatchy-embed iframe{position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%} Zacch Pickens picked up South Carolina’s Mr. Football award early in the day Saturday at the same time he was showing his versatility during the Shrine Bowl. Pickens turned in a strong defensive performance in the game with seven tackles and a pass break-up. He earned defensive MVP honors for the South Carolina squad in the 10-10 tie in the 82nd annual all-star game. But it was Pickens’ offensive performance that had people talking about after the game. He finished with a team-high 37 yards on seven carries. “The coaches talked about it but they said we may or may not run it,” Pickens said. “I’m glad they gave me the opportunity to do it.” Pickens even was put in the wildcat quarterback position and took direct snaps as he helped the stagnant S.C. offense get going in the second half. He had 19 of his 37 yards on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. “That was a motel room play. We put that in in the motel room,” Sandlappers coach Jackie Hayes said. “Zacch made some big plays and got some crucial yards for us.” Hayes came away impressed what he saw from Pickens both on and off the field this week. “South Carolina has gotten them a jewel, not only as player but as a person. Great attitude, great work ethic. I couldn’t be more pleased with him,” the Dillon hall of fame coach said. Running the ball was nothing new for Pickens, who led T.L. Hanna with yards rushing and 21 touchdowns during the year in helping the Yellow Jackets to Class 5A championship game. Pickens also played on special teams during the game Saturday, something he didn’t do during his senior season. Pickens was one of four South Carolina commits who played in the game with Westwood’s Cam Smith and Williston-Elko’s Keshawn Toney playing for the S.C. squad and Central Cabarrus Derek Boykins going for the N.C. team. Smith finished with five tackles, three solo, before leaving the game with a shoulder injury late in third quarter. Hayes said it was a stinger but Smith told TheBigSpur it might be a torn labrum. Smith tweeted out later he is fine. Toney was targeted twice and had one catch for seven yards. Boykins finished with three tackles and was one of the N.C. captains for the game.
  7. Will Muschamp talks Belk Bowl, recruiting December 13, 2018
  8. Incoming USC D-lineman to practice with Gamecocks ahead of bowl game December 14, 2018 Devontae Davis will get a preview of what it will be like to be a South Carolina Gamecock starting next week. The former Silver Bluff High standout and defensive end arrives on campus Tuesday just in time for the Gamecocks’ bowl practices, which begin Monday. Davis plans to take part in the practices after signing his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, he told The State. USC has nine practices before playing Virginia in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29. “I’m excited and waiting for this moment for a long time,” Davis said Friday. “I can’t wait until I see how it goes. I’m going to be going out, work hard and do my best.” Davis, who played at Georgia Military College, has to go through an acclimation period before suiting up, but USC coach Will Muschamp thinks it is beneficial for new players who get to be on campus for bowl practices. “They have to go through that as far as two helmets practices, two shells practices and then a full pads practice,” Muschamp said. “But they can be a part of meetings, which I think is important. They can be part of the tempo of practice, which I think is really good. So there is a benefit from it.” In order to participate in the on-campus bowl practices, incoming student-athletes must: ▪ be completely finished with high school/junior college; ▪ be accepted into USC as a student; and ▪ not be involved in any sort of postseason all-star game. Current Gamecocks defensive linemen M.J. Webb and Tyreek Johnson took a similar route and practiced with the Gamecocks ahead of their bowl games the last two seasons. Players in those situations usually don’t travel to the bowl game and only work out with USC while the team is in Columbia. Davis said he will use the bowl practices to help get adjusted to USC’s defensive scheme. At Georgia Military, he played more inside in the GMC’s odd-man front but will likely be at defensive end for the Gamecocks’ even-man line. “Just want to get better, meet the players and get the plays down,” Davis said. “It is a different scheme than I’m used to, but I want to learn the position and be ready to go for the spring.” Rivals ranks Davis as a three-start prospect and the No. 29-ranked junior college player in the country. This season he had 30 tackles, four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Davis announced for USC in January and stayed committed despite Florida showing interest. He grew up a Gamecock fan and went to many games growing up in Aiken. Davis took his official visit last weekend and was hosted by Jabari Ellis, who played with him at Georgia Military College. “They stuck with me from high school,” Davis said of South Carolina. “Lot of schools went different ways when I went to junior college, but I always knew they were there and was in my corner. Coach (Lance) Thompson and Muschamp and talked to me almost every day and I felt the bond and love.”
  9. South Carolina’s Will Muschamp updates OrTre Smith injury recovery process December 13, 2018 THE STATE South Carolina football has been without a key wide receiving option in OrTre Smith for almost the entire 2018 football season. That was a given as soon as the staff made the call the subluxed kneecap would need surgery. He hasn’t played in months, but he’s on the mend and there’s been solid progress in his coach’s eyes. “Really good,” Muschamp said. “He’s ahead of schedule.” The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder spent most of 2017 as a true freshman starter after Deebo Samuel was lost for the year. He gave USC’s offense a solid option, and projected to be the No. 4 receiver. Then he played in the opener and sparingly against Georgia, and Muschamp announced he’d be out after he didn’t take the field against Vanderbilt. He finished with three catches and 25 yards after 326 yards and three scores on 30 receptions his first season on campus. If he comes back fully healthy, he’ll be a key option in the passing game next season. Deebo Samuel is gone, and there’s still a question about Bryan Edwards. Shi Smith will be back, and there’s an army of options behind him such as Josh Vann, Chad Terrell and incoming freshman Keveon Mullins. So that big possession receiver who still has room to grow, his health will loom large. “Talking to (trainer) Clint Haggard (Thursday) morning, he feels really comfortable about where OrTre is,” Muschamp said.
  10. Will Muschamp talks assistant coaching rumors: ‘It’s flattering’ December 13, 2018 THE STATE At various points in the past week, South Carolina running backs coach Bobby Bentley and quarterback coach Dan Werner were considered favorites to take jobs at Auburn and Ole Miss respectively, at least in some corners of the internet. Was Will Muschamp ever worried? “Absolutely not,” Muschamp said Thursday at a press conference for the Belk Bowl. “We’ve got a great place.” Asked if he expected to keep the staff intact, he answered, ‘Right now, yeah.’ Those two were rumored for offensive coordinator jobs, while there was some chatter around current Gamecocks OC Bryan McClendon in connection to the Tennessee opening at the same spot or the East Carolina head coaching job that ended up going to Mike Houston. USC has enjoyed relative stability in this arena. Of the nine assistants who started with Muschamp in Columbia, seven are still with the staff. The only changes were Eric Wolford replacing Shawn Elliott, who became head coach at Georgia State, and Kurt Roper being let go after the 2017 season (McClendon took his job and Werner was added). The team is in the midst of its final drive toward the first signing day, and Muschamp noted the rumblings about Bentley and Werner didn’t cause too much consternation on the recruiting front. “It’s flattering and says a lot about our staff,” Muschamp said. “We’ve had a bunch of coaches get other opportunities, and they’re staying in South Carolina.” South Carolina will face Virginia in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29.
  11. Gamecocks down 2 more defensive starters for Belk Bowl December 13, 2018 South Carolina will be down two more starting defensive players for the Belk Bowl. Junior defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and senior cornerback Keisean Nixon will both miss the Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia, Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said Thursday. Kinlaw had surgery recently to repair a labral tear in his hip. “We could have waited until after the bowl, but we wanted to go ahead and get him healthy for his senior season,” Muschamp said. Nixon has a fracture in his neck, which was discovered after the Akron game, Muschamp said. Nixon had experienced soreness and numbness during the season, Muschamp said. “It’s very disappointing for him,” Muschamp said. Muschamp had already confirmed that senior left guard Zack Bailey would miss the Belk Bowl due to a broken fibula he suffered in the team’s regular-season finale, but he offered a glimpse into how the Gamecocks might compensate for his absence. The Gamecocks plan to move junior Donell Stanley to left guard and have some combination of sophomore Chandler Farrell and freshman Hank Manos fill in at center. Aside from the aforementioned injuries, the only other South Carolina player who will miss the bowl game is receiver Deebo Samuel, who is sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft. Who will return off injury list for the Belk Bowl Bryan Allen-Williams, Jaycee Horn, Keir Thomas and Jaylin Dickerson are expected to play, Muschamp said. Gamecocks received good news as defenders Bryson Allen-Williams, Jaycee Horn, Keir Thomas and Jaylin Dickerson will be available for the Belk Bowl. Defensive end Aaron Sterling "should be available" December 29. D.J. Wonnum is still dealing with an ankle injury and at this point will likely apply for a medical redshirt. The Gamecocks (7-5) will take on the Cavaliers (7-5) at noon ET on Dec. 29 in Charlotte.
  12. Bryan McClendon’s comfort zone leads Gamecocks into end zone December 10, 2018 THE STATE When D.J. Shockley talked to Bryan McClendon before the season started, McClendon was excited but cautiously so headed into his first season as an offensive coordinator. When the friends and former Georgia teammates talked again at midseason, McClendon was much more confident, not just in himself but in his South Carolina football players. “He kind of went from, ‘I’m not sure these guys can handle everything I want to do,’ to, ‘We can do what we really want to,’” said Shockley, who was McClendon’s quarterback when the pair won the 2005 SEC championship. “He was way more confident in what he wanted to do, what he was seeing and what he wanted to call during the game.” The difference has shown on the field for the Gamecocks. South Carolina averaged 404 yards and 28.3 points per game through the first six games of the regular season. In the final six, it averaged 476.3 yards and 36.3 points. When D.J. Shockley talked to Bryan McClendon before the season started, McClendon was excited but cautiously so headed into his first season as an offensive coordinator. When the friends and former Georgia teammates talked again at midseason, McClendon was much more confident, not just in himself but in his South Carolina football players. “He kind of went from, ‘I’m not sure these guys can handle everything I want to do,’ to, ‘We can do what we really want to,’” said Shockley, who was McClendon’s quarterback when the pair won the 2005 SEC championship. “He was way more confident in what he wanted to do, what he was seeing and what he wanted to call during the game.” The difference has shown on the field for the Gamecocks. South Carolina averaged 404 yards and 28.3 points per game through the first six games of the regular season. In the final six, it averaged 476.3 yards and 36.3 points.
  13. South Carolina junior defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw out for the Belk Bowl? December 06, 2018 Another South Carolina star looks like he will be missing the bowl game. South Carolina junior defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw responded to a fan on Twitter who said, “Heal up big guy. (Stinks) we wont have you for the bowl,” with “I appreciate it.” The Gamecocks (7-5) will take on Virginia (7-5) on Dec. 29 in the Belk Bowl in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Kinlaw, 6-foot-6, 305 pounds, had a procedure to repair a hip injury that has bothered him for much of the season, TheBigSpur.com reported. A USC spokesman would not confirm or deny that report, stating that all announcements on player updates would come from head coach Will Muschamp. Kinlaw had 38 tackles, including a team-high 4 1/2 sacks, during the regular season. He had been the only starting defensive lineman who made it through the entire season without missing a game due to injury. Kinlaw announced via Twitter earlier this week that he planned to return to the Gamecocks for his senior season. Senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel announced earlier this week that he will not play in the Belk Bowl so that he can concentrate on preparing for the NFL Draft.
  14. South Carolina struggled at linebacker. This versatile commit is ready to help December 06, 2018 THE STATE WEDDINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA Derek Boykins was still sweating in the cold. The Central Cabarrus linebacker had just watched his high school football career end, coming in a loss that wasn’t all that close. His time as a Viking was finished, he’d never again play with the kids he grew up with, but it was a moment where attention turned forward toward becoming a South Carolina Gamecock. And he had something he looked forward to. “The competition,” Boykins said. “Hard-nosed, everything the next level brings.” The 6-foot-1, 224-pound linebacker has the ability to be a flexible option for the Gamecocks in the near future at a position that has had its share of struggles. But he might give USC something more, something beyond the production on the field. “He’s the heart of our program,” Central Cabarrus coach Ken McClamrock said. “He’s everything that you want in the weight room. He’s everything you want in the fieldhouse. He’s everything you want in your program. He leads. He works his butt off. He leads by example. He’s our hardest worker. “We’re going to miss him a lot.” The multi-year starter made 79 tackles, including eight for loss with two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries as a junior, and his recruiting stock took off soon after that season. He is currently the No. 27 outside linebacker in the country in the 247Sports composite rankings. As a senior, he led the Vikings to their best record since 2013, posting 117 tackles, six for loss, four sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, five QB hurries, one receiving touchdown and one blocked punt he returned for a score. The range of stats, between the interceptions, the sacks and the hurries show a player who can work in coverage or get after the passer a bit. All the while, South Carolina has had questions at the linebacker spots. T.J. Brunson and Sherrod Greene will be returning starters next year, but had their share of issues. The depth behind them was hurt this year when Eldridge Thompson’s season was ended by a shoulder, and by the end of the regular season, freshmen Rosendo Louis and Ernest Jones were seeing a lot of time. But Boykins didn’t pay much attention to all that. Asked about looking at the position he’ll soon play, he said he just trusts Will Muschamp and Coleman Hutzler to put him in the right spots. That wasn’t his focus. “He never lost sight of his teammates and his brothers here,” McClamrock said. “He never was looking ahead down the road. His feet were planted firmly with us. That’s the kind of kid that South Carolina is getting.” McClamrock said he had paid a little more attention to the situation his now-former charge is going to step into. Boykins said his focus before signing early and enrolling in January will be running and staying in shape. He expects to bring an array of talents to USC’s linebacker spot. “I’m real versatile on defense,” Boykins said. “Wherever you put me at, I can learn fast, real coachable.” But it goes even a little beyond that, according to his coach. “He’s explosive,” McClamrock said. “He’s a great leader, and what I’ve told coach (Bobby) Bentley and I’ve told coach Hutzler and coach Muschamp is from Day 1, I can’t guarantee the first week of January he’s going to be the fastest or the strongest or the best player. But I can guarantee he’s going to find who is and he’s going to be right there beside him.”
  15. Muschamp grades his South Carolina freshman class: ‘Outstanding’ December 06, 2018 THE STATE South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp had to play so many freshmen in 2018, he had trouble remembering one of the most important ones as he listed them off. The new redshirt rule factored in, as did a slew of injuries on the defense, but he played enough that slipping his mind was Jaycee Horn, a opening-day starter who had a case as the team’s best overall defender. So what does he take from Year 1 with a class that saw 15 scholarship true freshmen play, including six or seven in rotations by year’s end? “I think it’s outstanding,” Muschamp said. “We really think we’ve hit on a lot of good players in this class.” Only a few players – some offensive linemen, a backup receiver and a lineman who left the team – didn’t see the field. Four of the newcomers started. Muschamp ran through every freshman who played and gave a few thoughts. ▪ OT Dylan Wonnum: “Coming in and starting at right tackle in some of the venues he played in, and played extremely well.” ▪ WR Josh Vann: “A guy that’s been a real pleasant surprise for us, especially coming off shoulder surgery in January a year ago. He was really shut down through the spring, and not really being cleared to do much of anything until about July. Says a lot about his progress, his intelligence.” ▪ RB Deshaun Fenwick: “A young guy that’s really come along for us. Given his opportunities, we think he’s done very well.” ▪ RB Lavonte Valentine: “Has been a little bit injured, but a guy, when he’s had opportunities on the field, has done some nice things for us.” ▪ OG Hank Manos: “Has gotten a lot stronger in the weight room. Made tremendous strides as far as those things are concerned. Just in a practice setting has done some really nice things for us, and a guy that we’ve been really pleased with.” ▪ S R.J. Roderick: “A guy that really has been forced into action. Played really well and the game is slowing down for him. Very intelligent player and a guy that is going to continue to progress the right way.” ▪ QB Dakereon Joyner: “In his opportunities has done some really nice things for us. His command has continued to improve to where we want it to be.” ▪ DLs Rick Sandidge, Josh Belk, Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare: “JJ Played a fantastic game (against Akron), really got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. First third-down rush was outstanding. Those three guys are SEC defensive linemen. Probably were put in to more action than they needed to this year. On the front end of it, it was tough, but we’re going to certainly benefit from it as we continue to move forward.” ▪ LBs Ernest Jones, Rosendo Louis: “Both are SEC linebackers. Both guys are heavy-handed, smart and good communicators, guys that we’re excited about moving forward.” ▪ CB Israel Mukuamu: “Started at safety (against Akron). Shows the intelligence. Keisean (Nixon) gets banged up, he goes to corner and defended extremely well. … Really excited about him as well.” ▪ S Jonathan Gipson – “Has done some nice things.” With the new redshirt rule, USC will get an extra year each for six freshmen who played and a junior college player, plus the batch that hasn’t yet seen the field. The team still has a decision to make on Jones, who showed well the past three games but can’t redshirt if he plays in the Belk Bowl. But after Year 1 in the new system, Muschamp was pleased with how his team was able to handle things. “I think we’ve pretty much managed it pretty well,” Muschamp said, “as far as those guys are concerned in guys that need the year back and guys that we felt like we needed to play.”
  16. In maybe Gamecocks’ best defensive performance, USC freshman shows his potential December 05, 2018 THE STATE It is inarguable the Akron Zips are among the worst offensive teams in college football. It’s also factual the South Carolina Gamecocks held that team, one that ranked 126th in the country in yards per play, to its second-worst offensive day. This came despite the USC being devastated by injuries all across the defense. And it came in part because of true freshman Kingsley “J.J.” Enagbare playing an old and new position, The first-year defensive lineman delivered far and away his best performance of the year against the Zips. He had his first career sack only a few plays into the first Zips drive and closed with six tackles, twice as many as his previous career high. “JJ Played a fantastic game,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “Really got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. First third-down rush was outstanding.” Enagbare added another tackle for loss and a trio of quarterback hurries. It brought his season total to 17 tackles. And it came while playing slightly out of position. He came to South Carolina listed as a bigger defensive end, but quickly the Gamecocks coaches aimed to make him a tackle. He bulked up to 285 pounds, and opened the year as the No. 4 player in the interior rotation. For the season, there were ups and down, being throwing into the grinder of SEC line play. He and fellow freshman Rick Sandidge played a good amount, especially as attrition hammered the Gamecocks up front. By the time Saturday rolled around, he was chipping in at defensive end because of the number of bodies lost. In doing so, he impressed his coaches. “JJ is very active,” Muschamp said. “He’s really instinctive on blocks. “He creates some issues for you. He’s got good length and good athleticism and change of direction. He’s going to be a really good football player.” How he fits in the puzzle next season is going to be interesting, as USC will be flush with depth. Talented junior Javon Kinlaw announced he won’t go to the draft, and veterans Keir Thomas and Kobe Smith also have another season. Those three, Enagbare, Sandidge, former four-star and Clemson transfer Josh Belk, who played sparingly while getting his weight down give USC six options on the inside alone, and that’s before considering incoming five-star freshman Zacch Pickens, who likely ends up inside, and any other tackles that come in. But in a sense, that’s what the Gamecocks coaches want. They had to throw three freshmen into the fire, and might just see the payoff. “They’ve plays a lot of football for us,” Muschamp said. “There’ve been some growing pains, but we’ll benefit from it.”
  17. Just how long did the injury list get for the Gamecocks on this year's grid-iron December 03, 2018 Gamecock football team suffered 14 season-ending injuries during the 2018 regular season, and 14 Gamecocks who have starting experience missed at least one game because of injury. Injury list: OUT FOR THE SEASON Javon Charleston – The junior defensive back suffered a season-ending foot injury. Charleston played in seven games and had eight tackles this season. *Daniel Fennell – The junior defensive lineman has started five games but suffered a season-ending knee injury against Clemson. He had 29 tackles and a sack this season. Jovaughn Gwyn – The freshman lineman suffered a season-ending foot injury in the preseason. Nick Harvey – The graduate transfer safety from Texas A&M played in four games this season but has missed the last six games because of a concussion. He could receive a sixth year of eligibility. *J.T. Ibe – The graduate transfer safety started the first four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He could receive a sixth year of eligibility. Tayvn Jackson – The redshirt freshman defensive back had to retire from football during the preseason because of the presence of the sickle cell trait. Tyreek Johnson – The freshman defensive lineman suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason practice. Caleb Kinlaw – The senior running back walk-on suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp. *OrTre Smith – The sophomore wide receiver had season-ending surgery to repair a subluxating kneecap in the third week of the season. *Aaron Sterling – The sophomore defensive end has missed the last four games and is questionable for the bowl game because of a meniscus injury in his knee. Chad Terrell – The sophomore wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in the preseason and hasn’t played this year. Eldridge Thompson – The senior linebacker had season-ending shoulder surgery after the third game of the season. He is expected to receive a redshirt this year and return to the team next year. Lavonte Valentine – The freshman running back was limited during the preseason because of a pre-existing knee injury. He has not played this year. *Jamyest Williams – The sophomore defensive back had 32 tackles through the first eight games of the year before having season-ending shoulder surgery. MISSED ONE OR MORE GAMES *Bryson Allen-Williams – The senior defensive lineman had 36 tackles and two sacks through the first six games but suffered an ankle injury against Ole Miss and has missed the last four games. He is expected to return for the bowl game. Josh Belk – The freshman defensive tackle missed seven games because of an ankle injury but returned to the lineup against Chattanooga. *Randrecous Davis – The sophomore wide receiver had a 27-yard catch in the first game of the season but has missed the last six games because of a nagging groin injury. He is not expected to play in the bowl game. *Chavis Dawkins – The junior wide receiver missed the first two games of the season because of an ankle injury. *Mon Denson – The junior running back missed four games in the first half of the season because of a hamstring injury. He has returned to have two 100-plus yard rushing games in the second half of the season. Jaylin Dickerson – The freshman safety has missed the last three games because of a hamstring injury. He is expected to play in the bowl game. *Rico Dowdle – The junior running back started the first six games of the year but he missed the Chattanooga game and was limited against Florida and Clemson because of an ankle injury. J.J. Enagbare – The freshman defensive lineman missed the Clemson game because of a head injury. *Jaycee Horn – The freshman defensive back missed the Clemson and Akron games because of an ankle sprain. Horn has started nine games this year and had 39 tackles and eight pass breakups. He is expected to play in the bowl game. *A.J. Turner – The junior running back, who has been shifted to defensive back this week because of all the injuries at that position, missed the Texas A&M game because of a head injury and didn’t have a carry against Clemson because of a separate injury. *Ty’Son Williams – The junior running back, who has started two games this year, has missed the last four games because of a broken bone in his hand. He is expected to play in the bowl game. *D.J. Wonnum – The junior defensive end missed five games in the first half of the season because of an ankle injury, and he hasn’t been full strength since. He had surgery last week and did not play against Clemson or Akron. He is not expected to return for the bowl game.
  18. This much is clear: Muschamp will get the time he needs to build up Gamecocks December 02, 2018 THE STATE Will Muschamp finished off his third regular season at South Carolina on Saturday. He’s going to finish off a lot more before he leaves Columbia. Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner reflected on Muschamp’s first three seasons Saturday evening as he left Williams-Brice Stadium following South Carolina’s 28-3 win over Akron. “I really respect and admire the way that coach Muschamp runs his program,” Tanner said. “We are doing very well in football.” So well, that Tanner did not rule out giving Muschamp a raise and/or contract extension for the second consecutive offseason. In fact, he hinted that he would do just that. “I’m a fan of Will Muschamp and how he runs his program,” Tanner said when asked about an extension. “I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I worry about him leaving.” Asked if that meant a change to Muschamp’s deal before the 2019 season, Tanner said again: “I don’t want to be in a situation where I worry about him leaving. I’ll just leave it at that.” Muschamp already is the 21st-highest paid coach in the country, earning $4.2 million this season. This season was the first year of a six-year agreement that will increase annually through 2023, topping out at $5.2 million in that season. “The culture is tremendous,” Tanner said. “They work extremely hard in practice. His players respect him. Football is a tough sport. To flip the switch and be at the top, of all the sports you coach, it takes time in football to get your program exactly where you want it, and then to sustain it is difficult.” Muschamp improved to 22-16 at South Carolina by beating the Zips. It makes him the winningest coach in school history through the first three seasons. His hiring wasn’t resoundingly embraced in 2015, when he was just one year removed from being fired at Florida after four seasons and a 28-21 record, but he has moved the program forward, sometimes in fits and starts, since that time. “We’re in a much better place (than the program was three years ago),” Muschamp said Saturday. “I said before the season started that we have a much better football team entering year three whether or not we have a better record than we have a year ago, we have a better football team. We have a stronger foundation. We have a bunch of really good young players.” The Gamecocks were 3-9 the season before Muschamp took over. “There has been a culture change,” junior linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “We haven’t gotten to where we want to be yet, but it’s coming. I feel like everyone understands that.” There are some significant hurdles still to be crossed, clearly. South Carolina is 0-6 against Clemson and Georgia under Muschamp and those two programs don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The Gamecocks are 1-11 against ranked teams under Muschamp, and they have yet to come close to either of their two annual goals — winning the SEC East and beating the Tigers. So what makes Muschamp, as he said Saturday night, “excited about where we are and where we’re headed”? “Overall depth on your roster of what it’s going to take to win a championship, which I have done in this league multiple times,” he said. “We understand where we are and where we need to go. There is nobody more impatient than me in that process.” The road ahead will take some patience, though. “We’re not close at 7-5 and you are what your record is,” Muschamp acknowledged. South Carolina and Tanner are going to give him the time he needs. That was clear Saturday night.
  19. Gamecocks win in sloppy season finale against Akron 28-3 December 01, 2018 The South Carolina Gamecocks rode a successful first half to their seventh victory of the season, outlasting the messy weather, overcoming even sloppier play, and topping the Akron Zips28-3 on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina started the game moving down the field well, on the strength of Rico Dowdlerushes and a couple Deebo Samuel sweeps, but the Gamecocks ultimately stalled and had to punt away their first possession. The South Carolina defense forced a quick stop of its own, getting to Akron quarterback Kato Nelson as Kingsley Enagbare collected his first sack as a Gamecock. With the Gamecocks setting up shop in Zips territory after a nice Bryan Edwards punt return, they got on the board within just a couple plays after a 15-yard Samuel reception. Akron answered, putting together a 5 minute, 30 second drive that ended with a 45-yard field goal when the Gamecocks made a red zone stop. Jake Bentley wasted no time getting back to work, staking South Carolina to a 14-3 lead when he tossed a 70-yard touchdown to a wide open Bryan Edwards, who had crept behind the Akron defense on a busted coverage. On the Zips’ following possession, the Gamecocks forced another field goal try, this one clanging off the left upright from 52 yards out to keep the score 14-3. Bentley looked mortal on the next drive, firing multiple incomplete passes as Akron started to bring some effective pressure. The Gamecock defense came up with a turnover, though, when R.J. Roderick laid a big hit on the Zips’ Daishawn Brimage and Sherrod Greene scooped up the resulting fumble. Unfortunately, South Carolina gave it right back when Bentley’s pass to the end zone intended for K.C. Crosbyended up in the hands of an Akron defender. After the South Carolina defense responded to force a quick Zips punt, the ever-versatile special teams hero Samuel showed off yet another way to score. Akron’s punter couldn’t corral a high snap in the slippery weather, and Samuel raced after the loose ball to pounce on it in the end zone, coming up with possession in the scrum to give the Gamecocks a 21-3 advantage. South Carolina’s defense again got to Akron’s Nelson, forcing another quick Zips possession to come to an end. Akron pinned the Gamecocks just inside the 10-yard line, but South Carolina found some breathing room with a key third-down reception by Jacob August and then a big gain on the ground from Dowdle. Edwards then came up with an incredible 27-yard catch to put the Gamecocks deep in the red zone, and Samuel completed a hat trick with a 5-yard touchdown reception — giving South Carolina 28-3 halftime lead. Both teams came out of the locker room with a whole lot of nothing on display, perhaps due in part to the increasingly wet weather. The Gamecocks and Zips traded punts, Dowdle fumbled, South Carolina forced a turnover on downs, Bentley threw his second red zone interception of the game, Akron punted again, and then both teams exchanged fumbles in what was a very busy and yet unproductive third quarter. To make matters worse, stalwart offensive lineman Zack Bailey went down with a lower-leg injury that required an air cast, and needed to be carted off the field. Continuing the trend, the fourth quarter started with the Gamecocks turning it over on downs, as Mon Denson couldn’t get the inches required for the first and was blown up in the backfield. After the teams traded punts again, South Carolina got revenge when Engabare snuffed out an Akron fourth down attempt. From there, though, the fourth quarter was another comedy of errors, and neither team seriously threatened to score as the final margin remained 28-3. South Carolina (7-5) now awaits its bowl destination, which will be revealed tomorrow after the conference championship games are in the books. With the victory, coach Will Muschamp surpassed former coach Steve Spurrier with most wins in his first three seasons at the helm of the Gamecocks.
  20. What went wrong on Javon Kinlaw penalty? Muschamp (and Kinlaw) explain December 01, 2018 THE STATE South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp was crystal clear with how he felt about the way defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw dealt with an official just before getting flagged during USC’s 28-3 win against Akron. “Obviously, he was wrong,” Muschamp said. “I addressed it on the sideline and I haven’t talked to him about it. We’ll address it moving forward. “There was a confrontation and I felt like we needed to make sure the situation didn’t escalate.” After a play, he was talking to and gesturing at one of the referees. He was flagged, nearly costing his team a stop. On the sideline, he knocked a cooler over and was spoken to in succession by Muschamp, defensive tackles coach Lance Thompson, defensive ends coach Mike Peterson and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson. After the game, Kinlaw took to Twitter to explain himself, saying: “I ain’t mad because of the holding. When you got a ref mocking you in your face while you trying to talk to him like a man you would be pissed too. I guarantee that.” That was in response to a fan’s tweet. He had one sack and a pair of pass breakups against the Zips. “I guess he got held,” linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “He’s been getting held the whole year, and he hasn’t gotten flagged for it. I’ve seen refs look dead at him and just say, ‘Whatever.’ So I’m sure he was really upset about it. ... It’s just something I feel like he’s going to have to get used to. It’s not really my place to say anything if the ref doesn’t throw it. “I’m sure he boiled over with emotion and stuff, but coaches talked to him. ... He eventually cooled down.”
  21. Will Muschamp updates Zack Bailey, Shi Smith injuries December 01, 2018 South Carolina football was already plenty banged up heading into Saturday’s game against Akron. Then the Gamecocks lost Zack Bailey, Shi Smith and Keir Thomas either before or during the game. Will Muschamp updated their statuses after the game. ▪ Bailey: Broke his fibula. A non-weight-bearing bone in his leg. He said it’s non-catastrophic. Bailey will miss the Gamecocks’ bowl game but Muschamp said Bailey will be fine long-term. ▪ Smith: Had back spasms that hit him on Wednesday. ▪ Thomas: Has an ankle and will be back for the bowl game. ▪ Keisean: Had a shoulder injury flare up mid-game.
  22. FeatheredCock

    Five question vs Akron

    How many people will show up? This game was scheduled less than a month ago as a makeup for the Sept. 15 Marshall game that was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. South Carolina refunded all season tickets holders for the Marshall game, meaning the school was starting from scratch when it came to selling tickets for Saturday. Earlier this week, ticket sales were below 30,000, and the Gamecocks have provided free tickets to community groups, military organizations and sponsors. Will Jake Bentley stay hot? South Carolina’s junior quarterback has been on a quite a roll. He has 2,754 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. He can become just the fifth player in school history to have more than 3,000 yards passing in a season, joining Dylan Thompson, Todd Ellis, Steve Taneyhill and Stephen Garcia. If he hits his season average Saturday and in the bowl game, he’ll finish the year with 3,305 yards, the second-most in school history behind Thompson’ 3,564 in 2014. Can Deebo Samuel get to 1,000 yards? Despite a career that has had some brilliant moments, the senior wide receiver has yet to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He’s already at 849 yards, which leads the team this year. One more receiving touchdown would move him into a tie for second-place in the school’s single-season record book. Sidney Rice, who had 13 touchdown catches in 2005, is the only player in USC history have more than 10 in a season. Can the Gamecocks avoid disaster? Akron beat Northwestern earlier this season. The same Northwestern team that will be playing in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday. That was in September and the Zips have lost to Buffalo, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green, among others, since then, but if the stars align Akron has proven it can knock off a Power 5 team. A victory would help South Carolina keep its current bowl positioning and give the Gamecocks seven victories. In 124 previous seasons of football, South Carolina has won seven or more games 27 times. Can Will Muschamp set a South Carolina record? The Gamecocks third-year head coach is 21-16 in his time at the school, which ties Steve Spurrier for the best three-year start in school history. Spurrier was also 21-16 in his first three years so Muschamp can lay claim to the best start in school history with a win against Zips or in the bowl game. Muschamp will become the first coach in school history to start his tenure by taking USC to three consecutive bowl games.
  23. Jake Bentley is worried about his short-term future with the South Carolina football team. The long-term stuff will be dealt with at a later date. On Tuesday, during his weekly sit-down with reporters, the junior quarterback was asked if he’d submitted paperwork to the NFL’s draft advisory board. "I'm just trying to beat Akron right now and see where we go for the bowl game. There's still a lot that I personally and we as a team have to accomplish,” Bentley said. A month ago, the question would have been received with eye rolls from more than a few armchair quarterbacks. Now, on the heels of his 510-yard, five touchdown performance against No. 2-ranked Clemson, it’s not so far fetched to think Bentley will have a significant decision to make within the next month or two. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- I definitely think Jake and the 2019 NFL Draft is more discussion worthy than most think. His play over the last several weeks has certainly bolstered that. I could end up being wrong, but I think there will be a brief period of uncertainty in early January as we wait for him to survey his options and make a decision. This year’s QB draft is not terribly deep and quite frankly Jake has delivered comparable play/outplayed several prospects on the board including Stidham, Lock, Finley, etc. He owes it to himself to see where exactly his elevated play would stack him amongst the 2019 field. Another factor to consider is his history of knee injuries and the scare he had this year...that could impact he and his family’s thinking. Personally, I don’t “think” he goes this spring, but I think it’s a more viable possibility than most detractors are willing to admit and many fans are willing to accept..
  24. What the Gator Bowl says about the Gamecocks NOVEMBER 28, 2018 When the CFP rankings were released Tuesday night, TaxSlayer Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett made two phone calls: one to South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner and one to Texas A&M athletics director Scott Woodward. Woodward was on a hunting trip with Aggies boosters, but Catlett got ahold of Tanner. “His cell phone is on speed dial,” Catlett said. “The fan base has always favored South Carolina, and the fact that their athletic director is probably one of the best people in the business certainly helps things.” South Carolina’s chances of landing in the Gator Bowl, which will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, increased Tuesday night when LSU was ranked No. 10 in the CFP rankings, which means the Tigers will play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. That moves everybody else in the SEC pecking order up one spot. “With the SEC playing four up, that kind of shuffles everything it looked like we were going to do,” Catlett told The State on Wednesday. “I think it’ll take the SEC a few days to sort through that.” Bowl selections will be finalized Sunday. Bowl officials will send the SEC office a list of their choices ranked Nos. 1-3. The conference office will call each bowl game back later in the day with the options that are available to them. “We have wanted to have South Carolina now for a couple years,” Catlett said. “Their fan base is tremendous. Ray Tanner is an unbelievable guy to deal with. Will Muschamp is a great coach. I have liked him for a while now, the way he coaches, the kind of kids he recruits. We would love to have them in our bowl game. The process goes through the SEC office now.” The Gamecocks last played in the Gator Bowl in 1987, losing 30-13 to LSU. The Aggies have a résumé advantage over the Gamecocks when it comes to the selection process. Texas A&M is ranked No. 19 in the CFP standings, 8-4 overall and beat the Gamecocks 26-23 in Williams-Brice Stadium earlier this season. South Carolina is 6-5 overall and unranked heading into Saturday’s final regular season game against Akron. The Gamecocks’ main advantage in the process is geography. “Texas A&M is the furthest SEC team away but probably has the largest fan base, and they are coming off an instant classic game so their fans are probably pumped up,” Catlett said. “For South Carolina, they haven’t been here in so long, and I can make it up there in four hours. I understand the Florida game didn’t go their way, but there isn’t any shame in losing a pretty well fought game against Clemson.” Catlett planned to talk to Woodward on Wednesday, he said. He did not call any other schools Tuesday night. “South Carolina and Texas A&M are the two teams we have been focused on,” he said. LSU playing in a New Year’s Six game likely clears the way for Kentucky, 9-3 and 15th in the CFP rankings, to play in the Citrus Bowl. Mississippi State, which is 8-4 and ranked No. 18 in the CFP rankings, could then go to the Outback Bowl. If the Gamecocks don’t land in Jacksonville, the most likely spot appears to be the Dec. 29 Belk Bowl in Charlotte. Tanner said Wednesday on 107.5 The Game that he has submitted a list to the SEC rankings USC’s preferences in order from the Outback, TaxSlayer, Belk, Music City, Liberty and Texas bowls. “We would like to get in a situation where our fans could travel,” Tanner said.
  25. Two Gamecocks freshmen moving to new position to shore up injury-ravaged spot November 28, 2018 THE STATE At this point, South Carolina’s Brad Johnson is alone out there. The Gamecocks sophomore started the season as the third at the Gamecocks’ Buck defensive end position depending on how one looked at the depth chart. D.J. Wonnum was ahead of him. Bryson Allen-Williams was at strongside linebacker, but in reality he was the No. 2 Buck most of the time. Then came Johnson and Daniel Fennell, also a strongside linebacker. Now Wonnum is done for the year with an ankle. Allen Williams is out until the bowl with the same ankle injury. Fennell suffered a torn ACL on Saturday, meaning Johnson played more than 90 snaps. Reinforcements are coming, but they’re inexperience and being thrown into the fire for the umpteenth time this season. “JJ Enagbare is a guy that can move outside and do that,” Muschamp said. “So he’s able to do that. We’ll have some combinations of Rosendo Louis can do that as a well, a guy that can go play on the edge if need be. We’ll have some bodies there.” That shift for Louis adds another layer to what has already been a bit of a roller coaster this season. He was expected to contribute as a reserve middle linebacker, but fell out of the rotation early. He ended up moving to the strongside after Allen-Williams got hurt and then was forced into extra action against Clemson as defensive back shortages meant more three-linebacker looks and Fennell got hurt. That sometimes meant Louis was out in the flat, lining up across from a quick slot recover in Hunter Renfrow. Enagbare came to USC as a bigger defensive end, and almost immediately was shifted inside to play defensive tackle. At 285 pounds, he’s been No. 4 in that rotation much of the year and has 11 tackles, two pass breakups and a blocked kick. He missed last week with a head injury, but Muschamp said he expects the Georiga product will play this week. Finding bodies on the edge has forced the Gamecocks to get a little creative while stretching things in the middle. That’s meant Keir Thomas playing outside, breaking out Griffin Gentry and Javion Duncan, even planning to play junior college transfer Jabari Ellis for the first time this season. “We’ve got plenty of guys to go around,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got some depth at the position.”

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