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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability

Sept. 13, 2016

Game Information

Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series: South Carolina has won 13 of the 18 meetings, including the last 3 in a row

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan)

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 113/XM 190

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Game Day Information
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Game Week Media Availability
Recent Headlines
Dowdle Named to Doak Walker Award Watch List Jake Bentley Named to Davey O'Brien Watch List Maxwell and Bednarik Award Watch Lists Feature a Trio of Gamecocks Gamecock Football Introduces Season Ticket for Parents Williams-Brice Stadium Nationally Recognized for Safety and Security
2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Time/Result (TV)
9/1 at Vanderbilt Win, 13-10
9/10 at Mississippi State Loss, 14-27
9/17 East Carolina 4 p.m. (SECN)
9/24 at Kentucky 7:30 p.m. (SECN)
10/1 Texas A&M TBA
10/8 Georgia TBA
10/22 UMass TBA
10/29 Tennessee TBA
11/5 Missouri TBA
11/12 at Florida TBA
11/19 Western Carolina TBA
11/26 at Clemson TBA

Opening Statement
"I'm looking forward to getting home and playing at Williams-Brice Stadium in front of our fans. We appreciate them and their support. 4 o'clock here and we're playing a very good football team. East Carolina is 2-0. They beat Western Carolina handily and then defeated NC State this past weekend. They're 6-1 in their last seven games vs. ACC opponents. They're a very talented team.

"Phillip Nelson, the quarterback, is completing over 80 percent of his balls, very accurate. He'll play on Sunday. (He's) strong in the pocket, has legs, feels very comfortable in what they're doing offensively. Tony Peterson, their offensive coordinator, I think has done an outstanding job. They've got a lot of really good skill kids. They really do. James Summers started for their some last year at quarterback; he's a running back and receiver. He does a lot of different stuff for them. He's a big, athletic guy, hard to tackle, (and a) very good athlete at 6-3, 220 lbs. Zay Jones is a receiver from Austin, Texas. His father, Robert, was a friend of mine in Austin. Robert was an All-American linebacker at East Carolina and played for the Cowboys a long time, and (has) a great family and (is) a great person. I've known Zay for awhile. (He has) really good ball skills down the field, vertical speed down the field. They're very athletic at the skill positions, and what they're doing offensively really fits well.

"Defensively, they're more of an odd structure, a 3-4 look, and very athletic. On special teams, Quay Johnson, the returner, is also their slot receiver and has really goo top-end speed.

"So we've got our work cut out for us. We need to prepare well. We had a good Sunday practice, and then were off yesterday and had a good practice this morning. The SEC Network will be here, at 4 o'clock, so we're looking forward to getting back home.

"Injury-wise, Blake Camper will miss the game with an ankle injury, and it will probably be until after the open week before we get him back. Chaz Elder has got some ribs he's dealing with, so it will probably be three or four weeks on him as well. It is what it is."

On the issues the team has had tackling consistently...
"I said it after the game: when you play a team like we did in the first ball game with a two-back power team, there's a lot of what I call close-quarters tackles. It's those tight areas you may miss a tackle or fall off a tackle in a two-back power, and they gain another three yards. When you miss the quarterback on the perimeter, it's 70 yards. So, really our messed tackle numbers were the same from the Vanderbilt game. It hurts as much, but it was glaring the way we went about some tackles. And you know what, it was disappointing, and I told the team this morning and I apologized to a majority of our guys, because they do prepare the right way. They do approach things the right way. They do try. They do give great effort. They do have great buy-in, and they do try to play with toughness. They do try to play with great discipline in what they do. And we got some guys that don't, and it is what it is in situations, and we're trying to do the best we can do in some positions. Those guys have to improve, and so that to me was the most disappointing. We tackle everyday, so it's not something we all-of-a-sudden have started emphasizing. But we did go out in shells on Sunday, which we didn't plan on doing. And we got some good fundamental work on playing blocks on defense and tackles. Working on blocking on offense, just some good fundamental practice and our guys embraced it; I'm very pleased with their attitude for the most part this week."

On what he expects to see from East Carolina's offense...
"I think it's a little bit more of a flavor of what (Offensive Coordinator Tony) Petersen has done, where he's been offensively. And obviously (Head Coach) Scottie (Montgomery) is a really good football coach, and he's going to have some involvement; there's no question about that. They're a little more patterned after Louisiana Tech, Marshall, and some places he's been in my opinion just watching them schematically after two games."

On who he plans to start at quarterback...
"We got a pretty good idea. We'll see on game day. Both guys are repping."

On how East Carolina's current offensive scheme compares to what they did under their old coaching staff...
"(There is) a lot of carry over, a lot of very similar concepts. I don't know if Coach Petersen and (former Head Coach Ruffin) McNeil's paths have every crossed, but there's some obviously, schematically, a lot of likeness. Coach McNeil did a really good job recruiting skill kids. I can tell you that."

On the improvements that need to be made across the offensive line...
"We got whipped, and that's the hard part. I don't know that it was schematically or execution. When you're getting physically whipped at the point of attack, that's a hard one to swallow. So we need to go back, and we've worked on some different looks that we feel like could help us moving forward. We'll go with those Saturday, but we need to be better at the point of attack."

On his excitement playing at home for the first time...
"We're excited about playing at home; we've got a great venue here. Our fans will be excited about it. We need to play well. I told our team that this morning. The great programs that have a home field advantage, it has a lot to do with the fan base, but it has more to do with the team that's playing on the field, and playing well. So, let's just understand that first. Each individual player needs to be a self-starter himself to prepare himself. If you don't go play particularly well, hopefully pride takes over maybe. I hope they have a little pride. That'd be good."

On the options he has for backup offensive linemen with two players out injured...
"Malik Young has been a guy that we've been excited about that can roll in there. Chandler Farrell is a walk-on that's done a nice job for us that can certainly give us some snaps. We've got some variety of where different guys can go. D.J. (Park) can always bump back inside, so we've got some different of lineups of what we can do."

On the role his staff plays in game day recruiting visits...
"We've got a recruiting office that really organizes all of the prospective student-athletes that come to our campus. So their sole job and operation on game day is to do that. And then as coaches, in pregame, we spend a lot of time with the prospective student-athletes. The game plan is finished, so we spend time with them, including myself. And then during the game, our recruiting staff entertains the prospective student-athletes, then after the game we spend times of them. That's one of the huge selling points at the University of South Carolina is our game day atmosphere. To come to Columbia on a Saturday afternoon and see all that there is to do in our town, and all of the diversity and culture that we have in Columbia, as opposed to most of the schools that are recruiting the same young men."

On the team's struggles early in football games...
"We've really discussed that a lot and feel like (it could be) anywhere from what we're doing during the game to night games, and not playing extremely well on the offensive side of the ball. But we feel it was more execution, putting our guys in better spots to be successful. That's on us as coaches, so again, we start out the Vanderbilt game, we've got a 3rd down screen, and we get out, then the next play you've got a holding penalty. It puts you back in the hole. And obviously, the shot play on the first play (at Mississippi State), you hit that and there's a different complexion to the game Saturday night in Starkville. We need to execute better, and we need to put our guys in situations to be successful. Defensively, we played well to start the Vanderbilt game. We certainly didn't in Starkville the other night. We didn't handle the situation very well."

On the positive things Brandon McIlwain did at quarterback vs. Mississippi State...
"He moved our football team. We scored points with him in the game. I thought he had good command. I think he missed some throws here and there that he'd like to have back. He'll be the first one to tell you that. But again, I thought he gave us a spark."

On if teams are avoiding throwing the ball in the direction of Rashad Fenton...
"I don't believe so."

On the positive things Rashad Fenton has done at cornerback...
"Solid. We had two situations; I'll give you an example (from) the other night. He's in perfect position, before the half, with a fade ball in the end zone. Just go play the ball. You're in perfect position. Just go play the ball. We had the same situation in the 4th quarter going the other way. In a similar situation, he plays perfect technique. He runs himself and fades to the receiver. If the ball is thrown in bounds, he probably makes the interception. Again, (he's a) first-time starter. (It's his) first time being thrown at 80 snaps in a game, being thrown at multiple times in a game. The way we play, there are a lot of one-on-one situations. So, the consistency of his performance can improve. Down-in, down-out, playing it the right way. You saw a great example of the same call, of doing it exactly the right way to do it, and then an example of you panic a little bit with your back to the ball. Have a little more poise in the situation and work yourself in fades on the receiver and play the guy. Play the ball. Again, (he's a) young guy continuing to develop, but we're coaching the right guy."

On the guys who can fill in at safety with Chaz Elder injured...
"We've got a lot of guys. Chris Moody is a guy that we've moved back to safety to try and give us some production there. Steven Montac has moved back to safety to give us some production. Jasper Sasser is involved in that conversation. D.J. Smith is involved in that conversation. So we'll try and find the best guys who can give us some production.

On if Jordan Diggs will start at the nickel spot...
"Right. He and Antoine Wilder will play at nickel."

On the strengths Jamarcus King can bring to the cornerback spot...
"He brings some length. He brings some coverage skills down the field. Hopefully we'll be a little more physical than we've been at the position."

On the offensive line...
"I think in the first ball game, we moved the ball. I wouldn't classify that as a `struggle' in my opinion. I thought we ran the ball extremely well against a very good defense in my opinion. Now we got whipped in Starkville; ain't no doubt about that. That's something that we need to do, in my opinion a better job of schematically, to help our guys a little bit up front. We've talked about that, putting them in some different spots as far as the run game is concerned and protection in concerned. We need to do a better job as coaches. On the flip side of that, we need to play a little better at the point of attack. I've addressed that already. I think it's a combination of both."

On young players gaining more confidence on the field...
"Any time a young player plays, the game starts to slow down. The first game is hectic, and it's hectic and loud. And the next game it slows down a little bit. We had a lot of firsts the other night. A.J. (Turner) scored his first touchdown, K.C. (Crosby) scored his first touchdown, and Brandon had his first touchdown. The game will continue to slow down for those guys, and they'll continue to play better."

On what he's looking forward to the most for his first home game as head coach...
"I'm just looking forward to the game and our guys playing the right way. At the end of the day, it's about playing the right way, and playing with effort, toughness and discipline and representing this university."

On what South Carolina will look to change on both ends following Saturday's game...
"Offensively, we are going to try and scale back a little bit to make sure that we're getting the reps and the turns and the looks in practice so we can execute them a little better. Defensively, to me our issues didn't have anything to do with our schemes that night."

On how South Carolina's defensive formation with the buck near the line of scrimmage worked out on Saturday...
"We got some decent pressure. They are a five-down protection team for the most part. Darius (English) got some nice pressure, and they moved the pocket one time on us. They adjusted well during the game."



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