COLUMBIA, S.C. – Will Muschamp walked out of Vanderbilt Stadium with a split viewpoint of how things unfolded at wide receiver for the Gamecocks in Week 1.
The South Carolina coach was impressed with the debut of freshman Bryan Edwards and some flashes from redshirt sophomore Deebo Samuel. But the stat sheet also showed a troubling truth for the Gamecocks pass catchers: Edwards and Samuel were the only wide receivers to record a catch.
Muschamp said Tuesday the Gamecocks would like to play more wide receivers.
“We need some of those young receivers to step up,” Muschamp said. “They wilt in practice, in my opinion. They need to step up and become better players.”
Wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon wanted to have seven or eight wide receivers at his disposal this season. But when the opener ended, just three had seen any real action: Edwards, Samuel and Jamari Smith.
The next tier of depth likely means dipping into the rest of Edwards’ recruiting class. The heralded recruit was one of four to join the Gamecocks this season.
“Randrecous (Davis) is a guy we are bringing along as a fourth guy right now behind Jamari, Deebo and Bryan. A guy that needs to continue to come on,” Muschamp said. “Korey Banks, Chavis Dawkins, all those guys will continue to get opportunities.”
None of the three saw action at Vanderbilt, though all were on the travel roster and remain in the two-deep heading into Mississippi State on Saturday. Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Nunez did not travel to Nashville, Tenn. Muschamp said he is proud of the effort the former quarterback is putting into learning the new position and how Nunez is handling the situation.
The starting group remains the same heading to Starkville, Miss. But the slot position has the Gamecocks continuing “to move some guys through” after Smith struggled with drops at Vanderbilt.
“We had some opportunities the other night for some explosive plays and some first downs,” Muschamp said. “Jamari works extremely hard. He’s a guy I still have a bunch of confidence in.”
South Carolina got some production from its tight ends on top of Edwards having an 8-catch, 101-yard debut and Samuel recording 2 grabs for 36 yards.
Muschamp expects more from his tight ends and said redshirt sophomore K.C. Crosby will see increased action.
“We need to be more versatile with the tight end position with K.C. and Hayden (Hurst) and Jacob (August),” he said. “Kiel Pollard needs to keep coming along.”
The options for more production are many for Muschamp. The days leading to Saturday will be crucial to make an impression, especially for the true-freshman wide receivers looking to break out like Edwards.
“They’ve gotta practice well to give us the confidence to play them,” Muschamp said.