Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Colleges

Will Muschamp learns from his offensive woes at Florida

DESTIN

With a year and a half to process what went wrong during his time at Florida, coach Will Muschamp has come up with a simple solution to fix those problems in his first season at South Carolina.

"Score points," Muschamp said Tuesday during the SEC's spring meetings. "Make the scoreboard go up. That's going to help."

It certainly won't hurt after what transpired during his tenure in Gainesville, or what the Gamecocks experienced last year when Steve Spurrier walked away from a scoring offense that finished No. 110 nationally.

In four mediocre years at UF, Muschamp's Gators ranked among the worst offenses in the country. UF never ranked higher than 67th in yards per play or had a scoring offense better than 56th. Boos and barbs became part of the environment at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

"At the end of the day, we have to be more productive offensively than we were," said Muschamp, who was 28-21 at UF before spending last season as Auburn's defensive coordinator. "If I had to point at one thing, that's what we need to do, and that falls on my shoulders — nobody else's. At the end of the day, it's my responsibility. Whatever job you are in, whether you're a coordinator or a position coach, the more experience you have at it, the more comfortable you're going to be and the better you're going to be. There's no question about that."

There's also no question where those troubles began: Quarterback.

Under the defensive-minded Muschamp, UF's quarterback recruits included two unheralded prospects (Skyler Mornhinweg and Max Staver) who never panned out and two others (Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel) who developed into NFL draft picks only after transferring. The Gators never ranked higher than No. 74 in passing touchdowns in the Muschamp era.

The situation he inherits at South Carolina looks familiar, including co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who was an assistant on Muschamp's final staff at UF.

The Gamecocks had the SEC's third-worst passer rating last fall and enter this season without a proven quarterback. Senior Perry Orth and true freshman Brandon McIlwain are competing for the starting job.

"We've got a lot of unknowns offensively at multiple positions, starting at quarterback, and that's the most important position," Muschamp said. "You have to be able to have production at that position."

And if you don't, Muschamp knows that little else matters.

Muschamp can still rattle through the good things that happened during his first stint as a head coach. He shaped UF's defense into one of the best in the country — a tradition that continued last fall under first-year coach Jim McElwain. A program whose off-the-field reputation soured under Urban Meyer stayed out of trouble.

"We changed the culture of that program," Muschamp said. "…We did a lot of good things. We played good defense, and we played good special teams, and we cleaned the place up. I do know that."

But that wasn't enough, which is why Muschamp will enter the visiting locker room as when he returns to The Swamp on Nov. 12 for his first game there since leading UF to a 52-3 win over Eastern Kentucky in the 2014 home finale.

Muschamp said he has kept in touch with some people at UF and that he's looking forward to returning to Gainesville — even if he hasn't spent any time worrying about how he'll be received by fans when he strolls the opposing sideline.

"I have been there before," Muschamp said. "Some Gator fans wanted me there when I was (at UF)."

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

 
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