Effort, toughness, discipline

Will Muschamp isn’t the kind of man who’ll back down from a challenge. In high school, he overcame a devastating leg injury. He then walked on at the University of Georgia, only to become a defensive team captain.

Since tackling his newest challenge — head football coach for the Gamecocks — Muschamp has been determined to instill his mantra of “effort, toughness and discipline” in the football program.

“In this early stage of our program, we talk to our guys about the importance of effort on and off the field,” Muschamp explains. “In my experience, guys who have been good players for us have handled themselves the right way off the field. So to me, the accountability and responsibility of being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is very important.”

Do you feel like the players have bought into that?

I think so. We’ve had very little resistance as far as pushback from our players. We inherited an outstanding culture, and I credit the previous staff for that. These guys have a huge amount of buy-in and positive attitudes.

What new offensive approaches might we expect from your team?

We’re very similar schematically on the offensive side to what Coach Spurrier had here, so it’ll be a very smooth transition, but we’ll play with a little more tempo. That’s one of the things I thought about when I brought in (co-offensive coordinator) Kurt Roper. And, obviously, retaining Shawn Elliott was important. He’s done a tremendous job with the offensive line.

And defensively?

Defensively, we’ll be a little different. To me, your job as a coach always comes back to doing what your players do well. We need to find out what our players do best, and then do that within our system. We may not be exactly what we want to be in our first year, but at the end of the day, you have to do what you can to be successful.

Increasingly, new technology is being used in sports, like the Catapult GPS. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

No. 1 is it tells us how much a player is running. You’ve got to be careful about how much they are running, how much wear and tear they’re taking, especially the lineman. So we can monitor that really well now. But you’re also talking about effort. I can look at a defensive lineman’s numbers and compare it to another player at the same position, and the numbers don’t lie. We can tell how fast they are running and how frequently they run that fast. And it’s been a shock for our guys seeing the results. There’s an old saying about working hard when you’re not being watched, and with that Catapult system we’re watching everything. I think it’s a necessity now.

Are there any other aspects about your program or how you run things that you’d like to mention to the faculty and staff of the university?

Well, I think as much as anything, it’s important for me to be accessible to all our faculty. At a lot of colleges there’s a separation between athletics and academics, and that’s not something I want. Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve been very engaged with the faculty, and if there’s a problem with one of our student-athletes, let me know and I’ll handle it, I can assure you of that.

There’s a balance on a good college campus that I think is really neat. It’s something that I’m drawn to. It’s really a unique experience. And that’s what it’s all about to me. We’re all in this together, we’re all coming together in the same direction, and this can be a very powerful place when it happens.

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