It’s been barely a year since Will Muschamp was last the coach of Florida.
After one season as coordinator of Auburn’s defense, he’s been granted a second opportunity to coach in the SEC, this time at South Carolina.
For Muschamp, one year away from being a head coach had made a world of difference. Muschamp credits Auburn coach Gus Malzahn for helping him realize some of the mistakes he made at Florida. A chance to step back helped him remember the lessons he’s learned from the likes of Nick Saban and Mack Brown.
Muschamp now believes he’s better for those lessons entering his second chance.
“It’s great to reflect and have some perspective on what you did well,” said Muschamp, who coached the Gators from 2011-14. “We did a lot of things well. It didn’t end well, but we left a program much better than we inherited. It didn’t end the way we wanted to, but we did a lot of things the right way. … You have to be willing to learn. I look back and no one is more self-critical than myself.”
Muschamp amassed a 28-21 record as Florida’s coach, which included the 2012 season when he led the team to an 11-2 record and No. 9 finish the final AP Poll.
It has been three years since Muschamp enjoyed the peak of his success in Gainesville, Fla., which was enough time for the coach to recognize all that’s demanded of being a head coach in the SEC.
“As much as anything, it’s like marriage,” said Muschamp. “The first year is an adjustment. The fifth year you’re doing better. It’s no different than being a father. As you start moving forward, you understand it more. It’s no different than being a defensive coordinator. The first year, it’s ‘Wow, it takes a lot to do this.’ Then, the game slows down for you. It’s no different than being a position coach, like the CEO of an organization — the more experience you have, the more things you see. The game slows down for you, you anticipate a little bit more things.
“It’s experience. You’re certainly leaning on past experiences, and that’s going to help me a lot.”
Much of the focus on Muschamp’s move to South Carolina revolves around how he’ll deal with the Gamecocks offense.
A defensive-minded coach, Muschamp has yet to announce who will be his offensive coordinator. However, he seems to have a very specific ideal of what he expects on that side of the ball, which he credits Malzahn for after spending a year at Auburn.
“Last year at Auburn, it was outstanding to work for Gus Malzahn. He’s a first-class individual and a great person and outstanding football coach,” Muschamp said. “Identity-wise, I want to be on the ball, fast, physical, able to be on the ball and spread the field, and our guys are excited about that.”
Muschamp didn’t provide many more specifics, only that he intends on running a lot of plays each game.
“Offensively, we still need to be more productive, and that falls on my shoulders,” he said. “I want to snap the ball as many times as possible and score as many points as we can.”
Muschamp also gave a glimpse into what he expects out of the quarterback position.
He’ll have Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Lorenzo Nunez all back in the fold. But as far as what he is looking for in terms of a skill-set, that’s second to what the quarterback brings off the field, much like a former South Carolina quarterback he used to coach against.
“Connor Shaw was as good a competitor at quarterback that I’ve coached against,” Muschamp said. “I don’t know how fast he was or how well he threw the ball, but he won a lot of games. … You like a winner with intangibles at the position that positively affects everybody in an organization. If you don’t get it right at that positions, it affects the entire organization.”
“That’s why the position is so critical. It affects your offensive productions, your entire defense and special teams, your decisions, how aggressive you can be.”