COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It felt so good he had to say it twice. With a smile on his face, Gamecocks head football coach Will Muschamp started Tuesday’s media availability by repeating when they open the 2020 season.
It is this Saturday at home against Tennessee at 7:30 p.m.
“Excited for our players, our staff, our school, our fan base, just excited to get back to college football,” Muschamp said. “Get back to normalcy here in the Southeastern Conference.”
Game day becomes a reality this weekend. It is an exciting time in Columbia, considering Muschamp did not know if playing this fall would occur amid a pandemic.
“We were concerned whether this was going to happen or not,” he said.
Muschamp applauds the leadership of the league and the university for pushing the season forward.
He also said he’s liked the 25 practices in 40 days leading up to the opener. The time off in-between workouts proved beneficial as the team installs a new offense.
“Sometimes when you’re in training camp -- I refer to it as drinking water out of fire hose, it just keeps coming,” Muschamp explained. “As a young player, you’re like, ‘When does it stop? I did not learn yesterday well, and you’re already giving me something else to learn.’ I wish we’d look forward to this model again.”
He added: “It is a longer camp, but the contact day-to-day is less on the players. There’s no question that this has been very beneficial to spread things out in camp when you’re installing a new offense, and you got more time to cover the details of what you need to do to be successful.”
Carolina’s newest quarterback will spearhead the new-look offense under first-year offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo. Last week, the Gamecocks tapped Collin Hill for the job.
Hill beat out sophomore Ryan Hilinski for number one spot on the depth chart. He had an inside track to winning the job with the familiarity of the scheme, having played under Bobo at Colorado State for the past four seasons.
“We’ve been together for a while, and I understand the offense,” Hill said. “I understand our plan and what we are trying to do. That’s my job, making sure we’re in the right plays. Making sure everyone knows what they’re doing so we can be successful.”
The senior graduate transfer played his high school football up the road from Williams-Brice Stadium at Dorman. He’s thrilled to have the opportunity to play near home.
“To be able to transfer in and have that opportunity, I’m really excited,” exclaimed Hill. “I cannot wait for kick.”
Muschamp’s impressed with how Hill assimilated into the program seamlessly to earn the respect of his teammates.
“It is always concerning for me, as a coach, to bring an older player in because you don’t know how they’re going to be in the locker room,” Muschamp said. “When you meet Collin, he’s a gracious a guy you’ll be around. He certainly has strong leadership ability.”
The coach added: “When you walk in the building, you’ve got some credibility as far as your play is concerned, which he certainly does. You walk into the building with three ACLs. You have on an amount of toughness to you. I think there was great respect among our team as far as he was concerned, understanding what he went through. As they continue to work with the guy, they see his work ethic, see his intelligence, see how he gravitates to other people. They see what kind of person he is.”
Hill missed spring ball recovering from the third ACL injury of his career. He feels healthy and ready to guide the Gamecock offense.
“When we came back in June, my goal shifted to getting that time with receivers—throwing a couple of times a week,” Hill said. “Grab guys, and make sure we all are on the same page. I feel very confident in our timing and our guys.”
Gamecock news & notes:
- Muschamp is 7-1 all-time against Tennessee (3-1 with USC)
- Seven of the last eight meetings vs. TENN decided by six points or less.
- Former Hammond star and freshman defensive tackle, Alex Huntley, will be out Saturday with a sprained ankle. He sustained the injury Sunday.
- Junior transfer wide receiver Jalen Brooks had his waiver to play in 2020 denied by the NCAA. The university will appeal that decision.
- Redshirt Junior QB Jay Urich has a shoulder injury. He will have surgery tomorrow. In December, he will graduate and become a graduate assistant for Carolina.