Rico Dowdle couldn’t work his way into the open against Appalachian State, managing just nine yards on 14 carries. The Gamecocks will likely need better production from the run game to upset Texas A&M in College Station. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp addressed the media, Tuesday, ahead of South Carolina’s penultimate regular season game at Texas A&M. The season hasn’t gone the way Muschamp had hoped, but insists the team is focused on the Aggies and not licking their wounds after sustaining six losses in ten games.

South Carolina’s offense has been the subject of much discussion, struggling mightily in losses to Appalachian State, Tennessee and Missouri. The Gamecocks are averaging 26 points/game, but that number is padded by a 72-point outburst against FCS-level Charleston Southern. In FBS competition, the offense has been limited to less than 21 points/game and has yet to put up as many as 28 points. Overall, the Gamecocks are averaging 5.4 yards/play. For context, the 2015 offense (3-9), averaged 5.61 yards/play.

Despite the lack of offensive punch, Muschamp bristled at reports that he’s receiving pressure from the administration to make staff changes, “That’s absolutely false … we’ll evaluate the staff at the end of the year, but no one has talked to me about that.”

Muschamp also shared his message to a fanbase that has been increasingly critical, “We’ve had more success in our first three years than anybody else has (at South Carolina). We haven’t played as consistently as we needed to. There are some things we need to address as we move forward. And continue to support these players … We’ve had some success here before and we’re looking forward to a long tenure here at South Carolina.”

The wide receiver play left a lot to be desired in the loss to the Mountaineers, but the chief concern is the Gamecocks’ inability to get any push from its offensive line and create space in the running game. Running backs Rico Dowdle, Deshaun Fenwick and Kevin Harris picked up just 20 yards on 19 carries. The team had been averaging just a fraction under 5 yards/carry heading into the Appalachian State game, raising questions about the blocking schemes and game planning.

The Gamecocks kick off at College Station, 7:30 p.m., Saturday. Texas A&M is a 10.5-point favorite.

Key comments from Will Muschamp press conference

  • Injury update: Wide receiver OrTre Smith, running back Tavien Feaster and cornerback AJ Turner are questionable for Saturday. Wide receiver Shi Smith will be ready to go after missing last two games.
  • On Texas A&M offense: Aggies are really talented at quarterback, wideout and running back. Jimbo Fisher puts a lot on the QB at line of scrimmage with protections and reads and Kellen Mond handles it well.
  • On drops: Even through traffic, you’ve got to stay focused and catch the back half of the ball. Bottom line is, if it hits you in the hands, you’ve got to make the catch. We’ve got to get back on the JUGs machine and Bryan McClendon’s been doing that with the guys.
  • Muschamp is not considering personnel changes on the offensive line at this time.
  • On lack of vertical threats in the passing game: When that happens, you’re going to see unfavorable looks on defense. Have to “get them off us.” Offense was limited when Bryan Edwards was out of game. Thinks Xavier Legette will be a downfield threat, eventually. He’s just a young player that hasn’t done it, yet.

Will Muschamp press conference


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