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Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Sept. 12, 2017


Opening Statement
“We have Kentucky here Saturday night. We are ready to get back to Williams-Brice Stadium in front of our fans. I know they’ll be excited and we’ll have a great crowd against Kentucky.

“They’re a good football team. Mark Stoops is a good friend of mine and does an outstanding job. He’s done a fantastic job at Kentucky. Eddie Gran, their offensive coordinator, is another guy I’ve worked with before and have a lot of respect for.

“They really committed to the run last year, really against us probably. Benny Snell is an outstanding back – tough, hard-nosed, runs north and south, gets positive yards, rarely takes negative plays. Sihiem King is a guy who’s a change-of-pace guy, somewhat like they had last year with some other guys. He’s done a really nice job.

“They’re big and athletic up front. C.J. Conrad is an outstanding tight end that you’ve got to account for in the run and pass games. Stephen Johnson is a guy that I think has really been a calming factor for their team. They went with him last year. He creates some things with his legs and throws the ball well. He commands their offense extremely well. Garrett Johnson is one of the leading receivers in Kentucky history, and they have a really talented corps at the receiver position.

“They’re more of an odd structure defensively. The two guys who jump out at me are Courtney Love and Jordan Jones, both linebackers who are very active and make a bunch of plays. They’re very instinctive. They’re long and athletic in the secondary and on special teams, Dean Hood, their coordinator does a really good job there.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I’m really excited for our players and our fans to get home to Williams-Brice. I am excited about that.”

On addressing the team about the three-game losing streak against Kentucky…
“I told the guys in the locker room after the last ball game, our seniors had a meeting with these guys; that’s not something we need to allow to happen. We’ll start to be focused on Kentucky this week. We understand what’s at stake. It’s the SEC East. It’s the home opener. There are a lot of things. Last year this was a football team that we could not stop in the run game last year. They let us out in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t run the ball at all. That will be a challenge for our guys this week.”

On the team’s injury situation this week…
“Kyle Markway has a fractured rib. He’s going to have to have surgery. He’ll probably be out six weeks on the kickoff return. I hate it for Kyle. He’s a wonderful young man. They were playing at home in Missouri. He had a foot last year. He has the broken rib this year. I’m very disappointed for him, certainly. He was a guy that was providing quality work as a tight end, and he was a core special teams guy for us. He was a shield on the punt, the kickoff return. I hate that for him. Steve Montac will try practicing tomorrow; we’ll see if we can get him back, but other than that we should be fine.”

On the team’s confidence level…
“I think our guys are pretty guarded with where we are from the standpoint of when you do get positive results you feel a confidence boost in what we’re doing and what we’re coaching them to do, and the performances that they’ve had the last two weeks against two good teams. Certainly, part of my message for the team is to be a coachable player. Understand that the good plays take care of themselves, and the negative ones go to the opponents. As we move forward and start getting ready for Kentucky, we’re looking at the negative plays that we’ve had from all three phases and what they can do to take advantage of those situations. Those are the things we’ve got to get corrected, and we’ve got a lot to correct. We certainly haven’t played our best game yet.”

On the contributions of the kickoff return team that has helped spring Deebo Samuel for two touchdowns…
“I think the team has been blocking well. I’ve looked back at Kiel Pollard, Javon Charleston, Chavis Dawkins, Evan Hinson, and Antoine Wilder we’ve had some guys that have made some key blocks to spring Deebo and create a one-on-one. Which he’s going to win a lot of those in space. I think we’ve done a nice job blocking up front in the execution of the return as much as anything.”

On the identity of the South Carolina offense…
“I think we’re balanced in what we do. That’s what we want to be. We want to take what the defense gives you, as far as those things are concerned. I think we’re a team that can be efficient throwing the ball and I think we’ll continue to grow the run game and be efficient at running the ball. I think I would say that.”

On developing young student-athletes…
“I always tell players that everybody has a role within the organization, and if you don’t like your role as far as playing time, then do something about it, perform. A lot of times as coaches, we build confidence in a young player through special teams. They’re going to be able to perform at a high level, execute a certain job at a high level and a lot of times that happens on special teams. That’s where sometimes those responsibilities are first given. They do a good job then all of a sudden, their role starts to grow on offense or on defense. There’s no question, it’s one-third of the game. To me, you control the vertical field position. We won the field position battle our first two games, which is a huge reason why we won the first two games. Our players understand that.”

On difficulties defending against the Kentucky run game last season…
“Boom Williams was a good back, as well as Jojo Kemp and Benny Snell, they had three quality running backs. There were a couple issues we’ve addressed. Number one, fundamentally, we’re much better off in hand placement, pad level, a lot of those things. I think they’ve got a good offensive line. They blocked us in some situations,. They created some one-on-ones. We missed some tackles. We had one on their sideline and several late in the game, as far as keeping drives alive in those situations. I think fundamentally, we needed improvement. I think we have improved. We’re playing blocks much better. I think we’re a stronger front seven than we were a year ago. We got pushed around last year, and I think we tackle better.”

On Bryson Allen-Williams and his versatility defensively…
“I think it’s hard for an offense to count him, as far as if he’s an outside linebacker or he’s a defensive end. He has pass rush ability and plays extremely well in space. That’s something we really worked on as far as expanding his role as we got into the summer and realized that Skai Moore, T.J. Brunson and Bryson Allen-Williams would be three of our better players. We needed to get all of them on the field at the same time as much as we can. With that being said, we came up with some different things we haven’t necessarily done defensively to find ways to get them all on the field at the same time instead of maybe putting a nickel in the game or an extra defensive back in the game. So, that’s how we’ve tried to develop our package to fit our players. That’s what you do as a coach: you find out who your best players are and figure out how to accentuate those guys to get them in situations to be successful.”

On channeling emotion in front of the home crowd…
“Again, our guys will be excited, but you lean on the experience that you have in the room. We’ve got a lot of experience in the room that our players, especially young players, will listen to. Channeling better as you focus in on the game is probably something that I will address before game time.”

On coming into the home opener undefeated after two games…
“Regardless of our record, our fans will be ready to go. I do know that. They’ll be excited, and I know our players will be excited to play for them, so I’m happy to be where we are. At the end of the day, that’s not going to change the outcome on Saturday night and what happens there; we’ve got to go play well. “

On the newfound physicality of the receivers in the running game this season…
“Absolutely and I think it’s something Bryan McClendon does a really good job of and our offensive staff – teaching the importance of blocking downfield. That’s when you create explosive plays. You get on the second level; you can make a guy miss, but when you see Bryan Edwards and you see Hayden Hurst, you see Deebo Samuel, you see some of the blocks that are delivered down the field, that springs runners. That’s one thing that I would say about our team: that we have a pretty unselfish football team. We don’t have a bunch of guys worrying about who’s catching the ball and who’s running the ball. It’s about what’s best for our football team, and that’s been fun to see. It’s been fun to watch, especially in our society nowadays.”

On the development of defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw…
“His role is going to continue to expand when he plays well. That’s something where he’s got to prepare and practice extremely well. You learn that process of it and now moving forward, you know, continuing to be more consistent in performance, continue to get his weight down a little bit. He knows that. He’ll be the first one to tell you that. Javon is extremely bright. He’s a guy that’s really articulate and understands the things he needs to do to be successful as a player. He’s been great. I’ve been pleased with him the whole time. He continues to improve and get better. The better he gets, the better defense we can have.”

On the difference in defensive preparation between the Missouri game and the Kentucky game…
“I think each week that’s the hardest thing defensively. Offensively, you run the plays you run, and you can get ready for a four-down or a three-down (line), or a pressure team, or whatever. Defensively, it’s a new bag of tricks each week. You’ve got to be able to be multiple in your scheme and system be able to and introduce things and not teach total different concepts for your players within your new scheme and system. That’s the hardest part of being a defensive player, to adjust week-to-week to different things we are asking you to do. There is some carryover with our offense and Kentucky’s offense in the run game and some passing concepts that are very similar.”

On Deebo Samuel and if he is deserving of being a Heisman Trophy contender…
“I don’t know what else is out there, but I know the impact he’s had on our football team in two ballgames. Absolutely. That’s not a big working sample, but at the end of the day, in two ballgames, I don’t know anyone’s an impact to the game more than he has for us in two ballgames.”

On the key to keeping Deebo Samuel healthy this season…
“I think the biggest thing is he has done a much better job with his nutrition and diet. I think a lot of things we implemented in the offseason. The yoga, I think was a huge part of flexibility that’s really helped our football team overall. I think he stayed here in May. He lifted, and he didn’t take a month off. (I’m) not saying that when they go home they don’t lift or work hard, but they don’t work as hard as they do if Jeff Dillman isn’t standing there. I think there is a combination of things; I think his hydration, that’s helped him. I think all those things are a combination of things. He personally has invested himself into this, and we can’t be with him all the time. He is certainly on his own and has worked extremely hard to put himself in this situation.”

On what he’s seen from Jake Bentley, both positive and negative, in the first two games…
“Again, I think he is a guy who’s progressed tremendously in knowledge of our scheme and our system – run game and passing game, protections, where to take the ball, making fast decisions, quick decisions. There’s not a lot I’ve been upset with, to be honest with you. There are some things certainly he can do better and we can coach better out of him. Absolutely, there is no doubt about that, and he’ll be the first one to sit here and critique himself. But that’s what really good players do; they critique themselves. They always see room for improvement. He certainly does as well, and I’ve been extremely pleased at how he’s played.”

On the extra attention on Deebo Samuel after his fast start to the season…
“I think Deebo is an extremely bright young man. He understands the level of attention he gets is well-deserved, but at the end of the day we’ve got to continue to be – and I think we’ve done a fantastic job of being – creative in different ways to move him around. He’s extremely bright. He can move inside. He can play outside. He can play in the backfield if we ask him to. That makes it more difficult for a defense to find him and where he is located, and we are going to continue to use him.”

On Jake Bentley’s play early in games and if there is a need to settle him down…
“No, I think Kurt (Roper) talked to him a little bit about calming down and getting the groove of the game, but he’s a really good player. At the end of the day, those guys come around. He may miss a throw or two here or there, and I know that shocks everybody, but it does happen every now and then. Just keep playing the game. At the end of the game, it’s a 60-minute game, unless you go into overtime, and he’ll make his throws.”

On the Hayden Hurst jet sweep touchdown, and if that will lead to using the tight end in more diverse ways…
“Well, we’ve done that since spring. We don’t open practice to you guys obviously, and we’re not going to. (laughs) Again, it’s not really about plays; it’s about players, and finding different ways for those guys to get the football, whether it’s Bryan Edwards, or it’s Rico Dowdle, or it’s A.J. Turner, or it’s Deebo Samuel. Let’s get them the ball in some different ways, and we do it within our scheme and system. It’s not a totally foreign concept to our players and something that they can understand and get ready within a week’s time. We do a lot of that in fall camp. (Kurt Roper) and his offensive staff have done a fantastic of of being creative in what we do, and they will continue to do that.”

On the importance of home-game atmosphere in the recruiting process…
“It’s huge. A young man and his family want to come to Williams-Brice Stadium and see a great environment, see a great game and an atmosphere and envision themselves playing at Williams-Brice Stadium and how they’re going to be treated and how our fan base is. Those things are critical in the recruiting process. It’s certainly an integral part of it.”

On the keys to winning the turnover battle in each of the first two games…
“The number one core value of our football team as far as the game of football is taking care of the ball offensively as a ball carrier and getting the ball off of people on defense. It’s something we talk about every single day. You can’t talk about it enough. We do drill work with it as far as ball security is concerned. We do drill work defensively to get the ball off people and to identify what we call ‘violators’ – guys who put the ball in jeopardy. That’s something we talk about all the time – the momentum it creates for your football team, the field position it creates for your football team. It’s the most important thing.”

On the use of Ty’Son Williams, who went from zero carries in the first game to 14 carries in the second game…
“Ty’son is a guy we have a lot of confidence in. He ran the ball extremely well the other night. The first ball game, we only played 51 snaps I believe. We had a kickoff return for a touchdown. We had two touchdown drives of two or three plays or less, and we couldn’t get off the field on defense. We played over 100 snaps. There was a limited number of opportunities, really for Rico, Ty’Son and A.J. to get carries in the first ball game. That’s three guys we have a lot of confidence in, and when we get into a game situation the guys that are running the ball best are who we’re going to go with”


 

 

 

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