Will Muschamp

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No. 3 Clemson clobbers South Carolina, 38-3, for sixth consecutive win vs Gamecocks

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Another year, another victory against rival South Carolina. No. 3 Clemson (12-0, 8-0 ACC) put the finishing touches on their undefeated regular season by making short work of rival South Carolina (4-8, 3-5 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Clemson sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence passed for three touchdowns and 295 yards before getting an early rest in the second half.

Lawrence was also a factor in Clemson’s running game. The mobile threat picked up a team-high 66 yards and averaged 8.3 yards per rushing attempt against South Carolina. Clemson also fed the football to their top running back,. Travis Etienne. Etienne scored twice on the ground but was limited to a modest 51 yards on 15 carries. Clemson’s defense was also in top form, limiting South Carolina to just 174 yards of total offense (while Clemson racked up over 500 yards of offense).

The win by Clemson was the sixth in a row by the Tigers over South Carolina. It is the second-longest winning streak by Clemson in the history of the rivalry. Clemson won seven consecutive meetings from 1934 through 1940.

Clemson’s next game will be the ACC Championship Game against Virginia next weekend in Charlotte, NC. Virginia clinched its spot opposing the defending ACC and national champions with a win against Virginia Tech on Friday. Clemson will be a huge favorite in the game as they go for their fifth straight ACC title and with it a fifth striaght appearance in the College Football Playoff. Virginia will be making its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game and will look to play spoiler before the College Football Playoff field is determined.

South Carolina’s future may now be a bit cloudier. A woeful season with just four wins to show for it will mean head coach Will Muschamp will be faced with some tough questions. Although Muschamp has already received the public backing of the athletics director with a commitment to have Muschamp back on the sidelines in 2020, that won’t silence some of the fan response as South Carolina continues to see the distance between the Gamecocks and the top of the SEC East (and Clemson) continue to widen.

Will Muschamp gets public support from South Carolina AD, will return in 2020

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It’s that time of the year when athletic directors new and old are faced with addressing the future of football coaches if things aren’t exactly going too well with the program. South Carolina’s Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks sitting at 4-6 with just a few games remaining as they fight for bowl eligibility, and that has raised some questions about whether or not Muschamp will be looking for work in 2020 or if he can stay comfortable in Columbia.

According to a statement from South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner, Muschamp has nothing to worry about regarding his job status with the program.

“Today, I want to make it clear that Will Muschamp is our football coach and will be our coach going forward,” Tanner stated via a released statement on Friday. “President Caslen and I are fully supportive of his leadership and his development of student-athletes on and off the field. Coach Muschamp and our staff are dedicated to the success of Gamecock football. They have built a program where our team plays for each other and for our University, and they deserve our support. While we wish the outcome of some of our games would have been different, we are excited about the future of our program.”

Under Muschamp, who was fired before the 2016 season, South Carolina is a cumulative 26-23 that includes a 1-2 bowl record. South Carolina is in jeopardy of missing the bowl season for just the second time since going 6-6 in 2007 under Steve Spurrier.

While the on-field product may leave something to be desired, it is fair to suggest the program exceeded its norms at the height of Spurrier’s days and that has set the bar high for Muschamp. Three consecutive bowl trips and two winning seasons in three years is far from the end of the world for most programs.  That doesn’t mean Muschamp is without his flaws, which is part of the reason he ultimately was let go at Florida prior to his arrival at South Carolina. But there is another reason South Carolina would be wise to stick with Muschamp in 2020.

As usual, it’s all about the money.

Muschamp would be owed $19,437,500 in a buyout if he were to be fired without cause. According to the USA Today coaching salary database, that is the buyout figure for Muschamp as of Dec. 1, 2019. Muschamp is currently under contract at South Carolina until 2024. It is the 14th largest buyout in the nation according to the figures in the same database.

Injury rumors swirling about South Carolina QB Jake Bentley

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Everybody in the South Carolina media circle seems to have an idea of what the immediate future holds for Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley. After getting roughed up a bit by UNC in Saturday’s season-opening loss to the Tar Heels in Charlotte, Bentley will reportedly be set to miss some playing time in the coming weeks. The length of the possible missed time is unconfirmed at this time, although one report notes Bentley will be out for the next six weeks.

According to Mike Uva of WACH, Bentley will be out for the next six weeks with a broken foot. Backup quarterback Ryan Hilinski would then be elevated to the starting job in Bentley’s absence if that is indeed the situation in Columbia.

It should be noted that South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp will address the media on Tuesday, as per the regular season media availability schedule. It should be expected Bentley’s status will be addressed formally at that time.

If Bentley needs time off, this week is a good week to give the starter a rest regardless of the situation. South Carolina hosts Charleston Southern, an FCS program, in their home opener this weekend. That should be a game that South Carolina can win with a third or fourth-string walk-on quarterback, so resting Bentley is not a bad idea. But if he does need to miss extended playing time, freshman Hilinski could be stepping into a golden opportunity to create a bit of quarterback controversy. If Bentley is out for a max of six weeks, Hilinski would be slotted as the starter for games against Charleston Southern, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, and Georgia. Bentley could then return for a home game against Florida if he is deemed ready after six weeks off.

We’ll see what Muschamp has to say tomorrow, if not before.

SEC rolls out four-day summer media day schedule

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Once again, the SEC will be masters of media day coverage in the middle of the summer with a four-day media day extravaganza. This year, the SEC is returning to Birmingham, Alabama. The SEC distributed updated details about this year’s media day event including what schools and coaches will be speaking on what day.

The SEC will open up the 2019 media day fun on Monday, July 15 from the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – Wynfrey Hotel. Television coverage of the event will be available through the SEC Network as well as ESPN over the course of the four days.

The exact order of what coaches will be speaking at what times will be hashed out later on, but Florida’s Dan Mullen, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, and Missouri’s Barry Odom will be featured on Day 1 on Monday, July 15. Day 2 will feature Kirby Smart of Georgia, Matt Luke of Ole Miss, Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee, and Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M. Alabama’s Nick Saban will highlight the festivities on Day 3, with Chad Morris of Arkansas, Joe Moorhead of Mississippi State and Will Muschamp of South Carolina also getting their time in front of the microphone. Day 4 will wrap things up with Gus Malzahn of Auburn, Mark Stoops of Kentucky, and Derek Mason of Vanderbilt.

Here is the full SEC Media Day schedule, for those planning ahead.

2019 SEC FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS SCHEDULE

MONDAY, July 15
Florida – Dan Mullen
LSU – Ed Orgeron
Missouri – Barry Odom

TUESDAY, July 16
Georgia – Kirby Smart
Ole Miss – Matt Luke
Tennessee – Jeremy Pruitt
Texas A&M – Jimbo Fisher

WEDNESDAY, July 17
Alabama – Nick Saban
Arkansas – Chad Morris
Mississippi State – Joe Moorhead
South Carolina – Will Muschamp

THURSDAY, July 18
Auburn – Gus Malzahn
Kentucky – Mark Stoops
Vanderbilt – Derek Mason

While the SEC media days are going on, the ACC will also be holding their media day event in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ACC media day runs from July 16 through July 18.

Defensive lineman Josh Belk leaves South Carolina football amid injury concern

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South Carolina defensive lineman Josh Belk is walking away from South Carolina, and could potentially be leaving the football field entirely due to concerns about his health moving forward. Belk was originally reported to no longer be with the South Carolina football program as of Wednesday afternoon, and a follow-up to that story noted it may be injury-related. Belk may have confirmed as much with a brief message on his Twitter account as well.

Belk later issued a statement that was relayed first by Vizor Carolina via Twitter (Belk then retweeted it from his own account);

“I fractured a vertebrae and decided to choose another path in life,” Belk is quoting to say. “One that won’t potentially mess me up in the long run with injuries and all. Been praying and this is what God has led me to.”

“After talking with Josh Belk, he has decided to give up the game,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said in a released statement. “He is a fine young man and we wish him the best.”

As reported by The State, Belk had an MRI recently and the results may have been severe enough to force him to make a difficult decision (or perhaps it was an easy decision). For now, Belk will focus on making the decisions that are best for him moving forward, while South Carolina will look to start up the spring knowing they are down one defensive lineman that could have played a significant role in the trenches this fall.

Belk, a former five-star recruit out of high school, appeared in six games for the Gamecocks last season after receiving approval for a waiver for immediate eligibility following his transfer from Clemson. Belk was a member of Clemson’s Class of 2018. He enrolled early and transferred after Clemson’s spring football practices, but was allowed to be eligible to play right away at South Carolina last fall rather than having to sit out a season.