One of the strongest lines of South Carolina offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s resume was his time working with eventual No. 1 overall pick and Super Bowl winner Eli Manning.
It turns out, Manning is part of the reason Roper is with South Carolina coach Will Muschamp in the first place.
“Eli was one of the recommendations that I talked to as far as when I hired Kurt to the University of Florida,” Muschamp said. “He came into a very difficult situation that last year at Florida, at the quarterback position, at multiple positions.”
That Gators offense struggled to 5.2 yards per play and 72nd in scoring nationally with one quarterback damaged by three difficult seasons and another thrown into the fire too early.
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Roper’s first Gamecocks offense was heavy on youth and light on continuity. This year’s unit came in with high hopes, but things were not particularly smooth before top weapon Deebo Samuel went down and the offensive line was wrecked by injuries.
Roper had been a protégé of David Cutcliffe, one of the most respected offensive minds in the sport. With Manning at the helm, Ole Miss produced a couple very strong offenses, and Roper was also at Duke as Cutcliffe built up a program from the dregs to a unit that scored 31.5 and 32.8 points a game in consecutive years.
The Gamecocks are currently 11th in the SEC in yards per play and 13th in scoring. The running game hasn’t produced and Jake Bentley has taken his share of hits with a younger set of receivers.
But despite a din of criticism, the kind not uncommon considering the perception of offensive coordinators everywhere, Muschamp backs his man.
“I thought he did a fantastic job last year in a very difficult situation here,” Muschamp said. “As far as what we inherited last year coming in.
“We need to have more production ... but he is an outstanding football coach and I’m glad he’s our offensive coordinator.”