The South Carolina football team went through another practice session at Jesuit High School in Tampa on Friday morning before several players visited the children’s wing at Tampa General Hospital. The Gamecocks (8-4) are preparing to face the Big Ten’s Michigan Wolverines (8-4) in the 2018 Outback Bowl on January 1. The game at Raymond James Stadium will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Much of the questions around the offense are focused on the changes with Bryan McClendon serving as the offensive coordinator and calling the plays for the bowl game instead of Kurt Roper.
“Not too much is different,” said wide receiver Bryan Edwards following Friday’s practice session when asked what changes have been made with McClendon at the helm. “We’ve been trying to not change up too many things for the bowl game. We’ve been just trying to keep things similar to what we’ve been doing so (we) won’t get confused.”
One of the common questions has revolved around the Gamecocks incorporating more tempo in its attack. “The tempo is picking up a little bit, but not too much,” noted Edwards. “Not dramatically or anything like that. It’s nothing crazy. Honestly, in college football today, everybody is using tempo and things like that,” continued the Carolina wideout. “Tempo is obviously a good thing, but it has its advantages and disadvantages. You have to have a lot of bodies because you get tired.”
“We’re just trying to execute whatever the play call is,” added quarterback Jake Bentley. “It’s not a certain tempo that we’re trying to do. We’re trying to execute.”
Edwards isn’t convinced there is more pressure on an offense to score when running tempo. “You’re going to feel pressure either way it goes,” said the true sophomore receiver. “We put pressure on ourselves to make plays. We just have to go out and make plays every time we have an opportunity.”
“I think if you are going too fast, you may not get a good read on the defense,” cautioned Bentley. “It shortens the game (for us) if you don’t execute. It keeps our defense on the field a lot more if we don’t execute if we’re going up-tempo. It just depends if you execute well or not. At the end of the day, any offense you run you have to execute. Whether you are going fast or not, you want to stay on the field and not go 3-and-out,” he added.
Edwards did concede that there could be some new wrinkles added for the bowl game. “Of course, with a new coach, he’ll add a little wrinkle in there,” admitted Edwards. “We’ve got a little time to work on it. So of course, we’re going to sprinkle in a little something.”
When asked how this year’s bowl week differed from last year’s, Edwards answer was simple. “I mean, we were in Birmingham last year and we’re in Tampa this year, that’s all I really need to say.”
On Friday night, the teams will have an opportunity to watch an NHL game between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. The Gamecocks will return to Jesuit High School on Saturday for their next-to-last practice before Monday’s season-ending contest.
-per USC Athletics