COLUMBIA, S.C. – Darius English still is getting used to Will Muschamp’s style. The South Carolina defensive end said he is just taking things as they come with Muschamp, who has been at the helm for about 10 months.
After a spring, fall and now half a season, English does know enough to not be surprised by the positivity he has seen in practices from the first-year Gamecocks coach.
“He’s always positive,” English said. “He picks guys up and tells them what they need to do to get better. I’ve never seen him take a negative approach in any coaching situation. He’s always positive. He just makes sure the guys know why he is getting on him and everything is good.”
The Gamecocks get the second half of Muschamp’s first season started Saturday against Massachusetts at noon at Williams-Brice Stadium. They began preparing for the Minutemen on Sunday with a practice that Muschamp called “great.”
Muschamp praised his players for being “upbeat, enthusiastic and excited about being out there.” English also said Muschamp preached positivity, which could come as a surprise for a coach known for being explosive on the sideline.
“I told the guys, ‘There is enough negativity around you. We are not going to be negative. We are going to stay positive,’” Muschamp said.
That is not to say the reality is being swept under the rug. The Gamecocks are 2-4 with an offense that is among the worst in the nation. They have a roster thin on talent and experience. But Muschamp is more interested in what lies ahead than he is the negativity that is understandably swirling around what has not been a pretty first season.
On Sunday night, he talked about seeing more positives than negatives considering the numbers USC has through six games. Call it garnet-colored glasses, but even with them on, Muschamp isn’t shying away for the need to coach rapid and great improvement.
“We are going to be technical,” he said. “We are going to correct you when it’s not right. We are going to do the things we do as coaches to help the football team move forward. At the end of the day, we’ve gotta continue to improve.”
There’s no question the need for improvement spreads across the board. It’s apparent from watching games, looking at statistics or talking about the perception of the South Carolina program.
The Gamecocks just aren’t listening to the outside noise, safety D.J. Smith said. The junior isn’t hearing the negativity, but is focused on the positives from those leading the team.
“I only hear positives from the coaches,” Smith said. “They have been encouraging us. I really don’t hear any negative stuff. I’m hearing only positive.
“We just want to work and improve and get better every week.”
Muschamp knows that. He knows he took over a young roster. So maybe the positivity comes from a nurturing place as he seeks to rebuild the South Carolina. But whatever the circumstance, Muschamp is choosing to see positivity, preach it to his players and it’s rubbing off.
“When your coach is positive, he is your leader,” English said. “When he is positive, you are going to take it on and be a little more enthusiastic about what you’re doing. You are going to take the right approach to doing your job.”