South Carolina Head Coach Will Muschamp didn’t need to provide any extra motivation for this weekend’s homecoming matchup with Vanderbilt.
As the team enters the final three games of its conference schedule, the Gamecocks still are very much mathematically in the scheme of the SEC East race with games against Georgia and Florida still to come.
Sitting at 5-2, the Gamecocks would need wins the next three weeks and a little help going their way in order take a significant step forward in Will Muschamp’s second season at the helm.
Inside the locker room, however, Muschamp said this week is all about a singular focus on a Vanderbilt team who has yet to win in conference this season.
Muschamp on Vanderbilt and handling success
The biggest piece of good news for the Gamecocks centers around the return of Zack Bailey, Malik Young and Cory Helms to help out a once-depleted offensive line. South Carolina had to use Blake Camper, DJ Park and Sadarius Hutcherson as makeshift solutions for a unit filled with question marks going into the year.
Muschamp says they will let the week of practice dictate how the game snaps will be distributed.
Now with the three experienced players coming back and having been well-rested, Muschamp believes they’ve created some newfound depth on the offensive line.
Muschamp on OL Shuffle and Vandy matchup
Amongst the concerns going into the bye week remained some of the same sticking points that have plagued the Gamecocks this year: third down efficiency on both sides of the ball and converting on red zone opportunities.
Muschamp says these are the two most critical areas of his football team, and the bye week was spent extensively on correcting the errors that led to the ineffiency.
Muschamp on correcting red zone and 3rd Down
An area the Gamecocks had excelled in all season, save for their last game against Tennessee was cutting down on penalties and penalty yardage. USC committed eight penalties for 59 yards, two uncharacteristically high totals compared to their season average.
Muschamp said the team takes each penalty evaluation individually, but focuses more on limiting explosive plays on defense and producing more on offense as opposed to worrying about penalty yardage.
Muschamp on Penalties vs. Explosive Plays
With all three offensive linemen back, the only short-term injury concerns remain WR Terry Googer who remains in concussion protocol, and WR Chad Terrell who has a high-ankle sprain.
South Carolina faces Vanderbilt at 4 PM Saturday on the SEC Network.