COLUMBIA -- The second preseason camp of Will Muschamp's tenure at South Carolina begins Monday with a far higher comfort level among players, and a head coach who is fired up and ready to go.
Muschamp met the media Sunday and said he's scripted the first 11 practices leading up to the team's first scrimmage and is seeking a hard-nosed month in preparation for the team's season opener. The Gamecocks will play Sept. 2 against North Carolina State in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
"Camp's a grind, and it's going to be tough and hard," Muschamp said. "It's been scripted a certain way for a reason, to be physical and have to battle through that. Championship teams I've been a part of embrace camp. They understood we're going to practice no matter what. The schedule's not changing, so embrace that part. Embrace the grind and the toughness of what you've got to go through."
Show them. pic.twitter.com/XDIwOFc6ZZ— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) July 7, 2017
Muschamp continued, "We want to be able to cross-train certain guys at different positions to create a little adversity in their life as far as the learning of the offense and defense. That creates depth. It's not about the next guy on the depth chart. It's about putting the best guy in the game to help us win. Those things are critical to do in camp."
Muschamp acknowledged what he hopes will be an upgrade in speed to a defense that ranked 66th nationally in points allowed, 90th against the run and 39th against the pass last season. His concern is speed doesn't guarantee that unit will produce the toughness he wants to see during camp and beyond.
RELATED: Can you name that SEC coach?
"There's no question we'll be faster this year defensively, which we need to be," Muschamp said. "That doesn't always translate into physicality. We had a little bit of a 'Southern Bell' defense last year -- reach out and touch someone. We need to continue to be more physical in our organization."
Muschamp believes he's beginning to ingrain the type of atmosphere he wants surrounding his program in his second season. He added director of strength and conditioning Jeff Dillman had seen a winning level of commitment from the players during the offseason.
33 days until Carolina Football! Let's celebrate with a 33-yard touchdown pass to BRUUUUUUCE! pic.twitter.com/uJCxpFuMW6— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) July 31, 2017
"You understand your football team and roster and how they're going to respond (in Year 2). I'm excited about the culture of our team right now, the amount of ownership (Dillman) and his staff have seen throughout the summer. The guys are invested in what we're trying to do and they're owning their experience. I always talk to the guys that you either rent your experience or you own it. You're the one that makes that decision. So own your opportunity here. There's much more buy-in as far as that's concerned."
With sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley entrenched as the starter, junior Michael Scarnecchia and freshman Wren alum Jay Ulrich will battle for the backup role.
"Those guys' reps are really important to us to proving who that guy will be," Muschamp said.
This article is written by Eric Boynton from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.