Football

Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference Video/Quotes
Aug. 29, 2017


Opening Statement
“We’re looking forward to the Belk College Kickoff, Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium. (It’s) the home of the (Carolina) Panthers, and I know our guys are excited about playing a very good, veteran NC State football team. (They have) 18 returning starters, eight senior starters on defense, six of them in the front seven. They have a very efficient, experienced quarterback in Ryan Finley, a guy that does an outstanding job with their offense. They have 89 starts back on the offensive line, and two dynamic playmakers in Jaylen Samuels and Nyheim Hines, a guy who is also a returner. They move both of those guys around a bunch.

“But the strength of their football team is in their front four. Those guys are extremely talented – (Bradley) Chubb and (Kentavius) Street and (B.J.) Hill and (Justin) Jones. They’re really good football players, so we need to play well.

“Again, I think we’ve had a good camp, but talk is cheap. We’ve got to go play on Saturday afternoon and play well, and that’s what we plan on doing.

“Injury-wise, the only two guys that would have probably contributed to our team that won’t play are Randrecous Davis and Tavyn Jackson. Steven Montac, I think, is going to be available. He’ll practice tomorrow. He ran around and looked good today, so I think Steven is going to be back up for the game, which is good, especially as thin as we are in the secondary.”

On the quality of this team’s fall camp compared to other teams he’s coached…
“Our guys embraced it. I don’t know that we walked out of any practice or meeting and didn’t feel good about making some positive progress. But again, you’ve got to do it on game day. I told one of the staff members walking back from practice that this has been a fun group to be around as far as how they’ve gone about their business and practiced the right way and approached things the right way. It’s been fun.”

On the one thing that most concerns him going into Saturday’s opener…
“How much time do you have? (laughs) I think anytime you have some newcomers defensively that will be playing some critical snaps for us, how are they going to respond? You never know. I think there are a lot of ‘knowns’ offensively. I think we’ve made a lot of improvements on our offensive line. They’ve got to block a very good front, and we’ll find out how far we’ve come Saturday. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got new specialists across the board. Just to quickly broad-stroke it, I’ll tell you those are some areas of concern for me.”

On the running back rotation Saturday…
“(I am) very comfortable playing all three. All three are quality players, and all three are going to (play). Rico (Dowdle) will probably start the game. Certainly Ty’Son (Williams) is going to be a guy who’s going to spell him. A.J. (Turner) will be in probably the third series of the game. We still have to work through the rotation of things we need to do, but whoever has the hot hand is going to carry us. All three guys deserve to play. All three guys deserve to start, to be honest with you. We’re going to find times to possibly get two of them on the field together.”

On will Skai Moore’s conditioning heading into his first game in more than one year…
“His conditioning level is fine regardless of him missing the season. That has nothing to do with it. I’ve got the confidence in Eldridge Thompson and Sherrod Greene, two guys that have continued to progress through camp in a very positive manner. Those guys are going to play. I told the defensive staff a couple days ago that we’ve got to script down our series as we move forward and make sure one of those guys is in the game with Skai or T.J. (Brunson) to make sure they’ve got a calming effect there as far as those things are concerned. Get the guys on the field together as best we can, but I’ve got confidence in both Sherrod and Eldridge to do those things for us.”

On the status of the placekicker position…
“I’m still working through that. We had some one-man situations today, and we’ll still work through that again. I have a lot of confidence in both Alex (Woznick) and Parker (White). Right now, both of those guys are more than capable of doing a good job for us moving forward.”

On the role of Keisean Nixon…
“Keisean is a good football player. I think it’s been very difficult for him coming right in here on campus starting. He had no summer; he had no spring to really go through and learn a lot of stuff that we do. We put a lot on our safeties, and he’s learning that right now. He’s going through that process, and he’s going to be a very big asset to our football team this year. I know it’s a guy that’s going to prepare the right way to play well, if he’s given the opportunity to against NC State. I’m excited about him, I’m glad he’s in our program, and he’s going to be a very productive player for us.”

On the role of Steven Montac, who missed two weeks of camp with a foot injury but is expected to play Saturday…
“Steven [Montac] will be in a backup role. He’s missed a lot of time. Certainly he is extremely bright, and he’s not a guy that needs a lot of reps. He will go out there and play without a lot of reps, so right now we will go with what we got.”

On having quarterback stability this year compared to last season…
“It helps tremendously when you have experience and ability at the position, at the most important position on your squad. When you have that, it certainly gives you a lot more confidence to what you’ll be able to do and how you’ll be able to do it offensively in the game. To understand the calming effect that Jake has on the rest of our football team and certainly our offense is pretty heavy.”

On NC State’s tempo and pre-snap motion, and how the Gamecocks can handle it…
“I think because of tempo, a lot of teams are not motioning and shifting as much anymore. They’ll create tempo without motion and shifting, but certainly they do give you some pre-snap movement. (That is) something we’ve prepared for a lot; our offense does a lot of movement as well. I think there are some comparable qualities between some of the pre-snap things we’ve seen throughout camp.”

On the evolution of the tight end position and how the Gamecocks can use those players on Saturday…
“For a defensive coach that’s very difficult to count those guys when you talk in terms of Hayden (Hurst) and K.C. (Crosby). Those are both guys that can split out and be very effective running routes in the slot or outside. There are also guys that can go block in C area on the offensive line and create an extra gap for you in the run game. They’re hard to count. Jacob (August) and those guys – Kiel Pollard, Evan Hinson, and Kyle Markway – all those guys offer a different skill set to what we’re trying to do at the position, and that certainly give you a lot of versatility offensively.”

On the preparation difference between opening at a neutral site compared to home…
“We have the same travel operation the night before the game. The game preparation is always the same regardless of where you’re playing. We’re heading up to Charlotte and playing in a great venue against a very good team. We’re looking forward to it.”

On if the team has met the standards in terms of being more physical…
“Well, you have to do it on a game day. At the end of the day, that’s when you’re measured. It’s no different than practicing for an exam. You got to do well on the exam regardless of how well you did on the practice test. We’ve had a bunch of practice tests so far, and we got to do well on the exam, and that’s on September 2nd. It’s a long season. It’s not a one-game season. We need to prepare well for this game. I feel good about our preparation up to this point. I feel good about the culture of our program and where it is moving forward. The best days for South Carolina football are ahead.”

On how to prepare for N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels…
“Well, he’s a really good football player. They find very creative ways to hand him the ball, throw him the ball, toss him the ball. He’s a very effective playmaker. I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t know him personally. When you have this much time to prepare, you watch a lot of tape. I certainly really enjoy watching him play. You got to have awareness of where he is and the guys have to have understanding of when he lines up in certain areas, there’s a reason why he is there and just have a good concept for understanding those things.”

On the team’s future schedules, his vision for future non-conference games and the importance of winning neutral-site, out-of-state games…
”(Deputy Athletics Director) Charles Waddell and I were just talking about that two minutes ago. I think we’re pretty good through (2019). We’re still working past that.

“Certainly, you always want to have success. That’s obvious. I don’t think that any recruit is going to make a decision based on one game. If they are, we probably don’t want them. I’m always open to Charlotte and Atlanta. Those are two areas that we need to recruit well in. We have great players in our state, but numbers-wise, they are not going to be enough to fill our roster. Anytime we can have a kickoff situation in those states, Coach Tanner knows how I feel about it. To have to those opportunities to get that exposure in those areas are very important to us.”

On watching film for the first three opponents…
“None with our players, but as a staff we game-planned the first three games fully as far as goal line, third down, everything you can imagine. We’re ready for those games. Certainly, we can change some things, obviously. We have in this game already. As a staff, we started that back in the spring and we start a preview of our opponents for the season and spend multiple days on the opponent in all three phases of the game to prepare and have notes for when you get to game week and you saw in your offensive study to hopefully help you prepare for the game.”

On the team speed in fall camp…
“We’re must faster than we were a year ago. When you put No. 10 (Skai Moore) on the field defensively, you get faster. That helps, number one. T.J. Brunson is playing very fast. We’re faster at the linebacker position. I think up front, (D.J.) Wonnum has done a really nice job. Dante Sawyer gives us position variety of a playing end and rushing inside at time. I think we’re faster in the secondary than we were a year ago. That’s where it really struck you, on special teams and defensively, where we needed to improve our speed and I think we have.”

On added hydration measures going into the game…
“With some of the soft tissue issues we had last year, part of my research in the offseason was correcting that. Part of that was hydration. Our nutrition department with Kristin Coggin and Jeff Dillman with our strength staff have done a tremendous job emphasizing that to our players. We have not had a lot of cramps in camp. I don’t think it’s supposed to be tremendously hot on Saturday, maybe some rain possibly. We’re playing for some wet ball practices and things like that. We’ve prepared for that. I really feel like you would have seen more of those things show up in camp and we really eliminated a lot of those things.”

On Jamyest Williams' progress at the nickel position...
"(The) number one talent he has is his competitive edge. The guy goes and competes every snap, and he goes out to practice and practices the right way; the way you're supposed to practice. He is a bright young man and continues to learn. The more snaps he continues to take, the game is going to continue to slow down for him. But I've been extremely proud how he's come in here and worked. And that's been the most important thing. If a guy is willing to come in and has some intelligence and he is willing to work and he's got some ability, he's going to have a chance. And certainly, he's enhanced his chance by how well he's played."

On team's preparation and expectations for game one knowing they would open with a quality opponent...
"I'd go back to the summer. Our guys understand that we need to be game-ready (for) game one when you have an opponent like NC State. To understand that you better be in shape and understanding all those things. The strength levels, the endurance levels, all of them need to be ready to go when camp starts. And that's something that means a little extra motivation from the players. I think camp is camp and we are going push our guys to be focused, to be dialed into what they need to be successful with."

On the team’s pregame preparations on Friday and Saturday…
“It’s a normal operation. We do everything here. I believe in watching our film from Thursday’s practice and having our walkthrough. We complete everything here in Columbia, regardless of where we are playing, and finish all of that. Then we’ll travel to the hotel, have some meetings at the hotel, and have some short walkthroughs that night. We’ll get up the next morning, have a little breakfast, and have some more walkthroughs. We do a lot of walkthroughs. It’s time to keep the thinking caps on.”

On what makes NC State’s defensive line a tough challenge…
“They’re very disruptive. They do a very good job of rushing four guys. They can get to the quarterback with four guys rushing. They’re going to do a good job attacking your protections to get some one-on-one matchups you’ve got to be careful with. They do a good job stemming what I call the ‘bear front” a lot, creating one-on-one matchups across the board with a linebacker rushing. With the one-on-one matchups, you’ve got to be sure you give enough variety in protection to keep your quarterback upright. They’re also very disruptive in the run game. They’ve recruited extremely well there. They’ve evaluated very well, and they’ve developed their players very well up front.”

On the status of the third-string quarterback should the Gamecocks need to utilize that position…
“Jay Urich is going to travel, and Danny Gordon is a young man that’s done a nice job for us as well. I think you ask yourself – and we have had the discussion – is it a long-term issue, or is it a short-term issue? That’s probably how I would answer the question.”

On the status of the offensive linemen currently listed as second-teamers on the depth chart, and who from that group he expects to play Saturday…
“I think Dennis Daley is a guy that’s played extremely well. He just needs to be more consistent. D.J. Park is a guy that is very versatile and can play across the board at different spots. Sadarius Hutcherson, the last 10 days of camp, has been the guy that we recruited, and has been a guy we’re obviously excited about. Chandler Farrell is certainly capable of going in there and playing extremely well for us. Blake Camper has done a nice job. We have guys that we have confidence in being able to put in the game and be effective.

“We’re still talking in terms of rotation, but we haven’t been dead set on the depth chart."
 

 

 

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