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Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Sept. 26, 2017


Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media at his weekly news conference Tuesday afternoon. Several players spoke as well including Jake Bentley, Ty'Son Williams, Hayden Hurst, Alan Knott, Malik Young, Keir Thomas, D.J. Wonnum, Daniel Fennell, Taylor Stallworth, Ulric Jones, T.J. Brunson, Skai Moore, Eldridge Thompson, Javon Charleston and Parker White.

Opening Statement
“We’ve got Texas A&M Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. They’ve done a great job with Kyle Field. I went there two years ago, and it’s an amazing facility. Kevin Sumlin is a great friend of mine. We have the same birthday. I’m looking forward to playing the Aggies there on Saturday night.

“Offensively, (they are) extremely explosive. Noel Mazzone does a fantastic job. The two backs they’ve got are big-time runners, guys that are going to create space. They’ll get in one-on-one matchups, and you don’t want to have to tackle in space and get both of these guys on the ground. They can take the ball anywhere. They run the inside zone extremely well. They can bounce all the way to the backside. They do a fantastic job with both (Keith) Ford and (Trayveon) Williams.

“Christian Kirk is as good of a player as there is in college football as far as a returner and receiver. They are very deep and athletic on their offensive live. They’ve got a deep receiving corps. They’re young, but they’re talented.

“Then Kellen Mond, last week, ran for over 100 (yards) and threw for over 200. They had an outstanding game against Arkansas, scoring 50 points, and then in overtime. He really has continued to come on since he played in the UCLA game, then the Nicholls game, then the (Louisiana) Lafayette game going into the Arkansas game. He continues to improve. Jake Hubenak is a backup, and certainly a dependable guy that they’ve got. They’ve got some depth at the position after the injury.

“Defensively, John Chavis does a great job. He’s been in this league a long time. They’ve very active inside with (Zaycoven) Henderson, (Kingsley) Keke and Daylon Mack. We’ve got to be able to handle those guys inside. Jarrett Johnson is an outstanding rusher on the edge; he creates a lot of issues for you. They’re leading the league in sacks, and he’s certainly a huge part of that. Armani Watts is as good a safety as there is in our league. He’s played there a long time.

“They have really good specialists, and obviously I mentioned Christian Kirk earlier. It will be a great atmosphere there in College Station and we’re looking forward to it, playing Texas A&M.”

On the team’s injury situation…
“Zack Bailey is out this week. We probably won’t know more about Cory Helms until Thursday. We’re going to try and get something done tomorrow and see how he does on Thursday. Steven Montac will practice tomorrow, so we’ll see how far along he’s come. Antoine Wilder will practice tomorrow, and Dante Sawyer practiced today.”

On the team’s struggles with red zone offense…
“I would say it’s a combination of factors. We’ve had nine red zone trips. We’ve scored four touchdowns. We’ve kicked two field goals. We’ve had two missed field goals. We’ve turned it over on downs one time. We’re one-of-five in kicking field goals, whether it’s in the red zone or a high-fringe area. We had an interception two weeks ago in the high fringe. We had a fumble on the 34-yard line in last week’s game. We had two missed protections in last week’s game. We had one on third down by a back. One by our offensive line on a second and ten situations, which created a longer third down. We had a missed route. Going through in my mind, it’s multiple things. It’s not one thing you’re putting your finger on. Obviously, we need to coach better in those situations, because if our players aren’t executing, that’s a coaching issue in my opinion. So, we’ve got to do a better job of putting our guys in spots to be successful, where we don’t have a protection issue or we don’t have a route that’s not run precisely the right way. Those are things to me we’ve got to continue to improve. I think we made some improvements in short yardage and goal line situations. And those will continue to evolve. Those are things we’ve had in our package; we just didn’t use them in the game two weeks ago. But those are things we’ve done and can do. We’ve had them up for games and certain games we didn’t feel like we needed them. So, it’s just a coach’s decision and we’ll continue to evolve there.”

On the run game and if it’s more important in the red zone…
“I think so. I think you’ve got to be able to run when the pass zone’s condensed. You look at some of the team’s we’ve played this year, Missouri being one of them, and last week, the teams have a hard time running the football in the red zone. The pass zone’s condensed. There isn’t as much yardage to get free. That’s why we play pretty good red zone defense when teams have a hard time running the ball.”

On keeping things unpredictable…
“I think there’s always a fine line in how much you do. From a standpoint of, you’re doing too much, the guys are thinking instead of reacting. I think that’s always something we’re thinking about. You can’t be predictable. People know where you are. Defensively, if you line up over and over in the same spot, they’re going to blow you up. So, you’ve got to be multiple enough in what you do. But there’s a fine line there and we walk that line every week. Are we doing too much? Or do we have enough bullets in the gun to make sure we’re doing enough things? To give the offense different looks and certainly, Noel Mazzone, this isn’t his first big game. He’s been a part of it. But I’ve never lost confidence in our guys as far as those things are concerned. Again, I go back to coaching. Let’s put our guys in a better spot to be successful. And that’s on me, nobody else.”

On losing leadership from injured upperclassmen…
“Absolutely, from a leadership standpoint and a play-making standpoint, it certainly takes some other guys to step up. It’s the mantra of man-down, man-up. That’s what you’ve got to do. You have to move forward. We’re not stopping the season. Nobody feels sorry for us. They may all say it, but they’re lying; they’re not sorry for us. So, at the end of the day we’ve got to continue to just step up, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. Guys have got to continue to rally. You see OrTre Smith made a nice play for us. Shi Smith has done some nice things. Bryan Edwards needs to elevate his play. The tight ends need to be more involved. It’s a collective effort when you lose someone. Daniel Fennell had a bunch of snaps the other day and he did a nice job. He came through on a couple situations, had his first career sack. Brad Johnson’s going to have to play a bigger role for us Saturday night in College Station. So, there’s no question that we’ve got to have more guys step up for us.”

On what Bryson Allen-Williams brought off the field…
“It’s a calming aspect to me as much as anything. When you have a guy that’s been there and you have a guy like Sherrod Greene on the field for the first time. They’re experiencing a lot of new things, but Bryson’s there telling him it’s going to be alright, we’re good. He’s there to communicate. There’s so many things; I’m just using Sherrod as an example. We’ve got several young guys like him, Aaron Sterling that are out there for the first time. That calming factor to me. To be able to give up a drive on the first series of the game against NC State and Bryson’s over on the sideline saying ‘we’re alright, we’ve just got to get off on third down.’ He’s going through the coach speak that we do for the young players. That’s a calming effect at times. Especially since we didn’t have headsets so it didn’t matter.”

On Bryson Allen-Williams choosing to stay at South Carolina next season…
“Absolutely, Bryson’s only twenty years old, so he’s young. He didn’t redshirt his first year, obviously. It was pretty awesome when he told me. He looked at me and said, ‘Coach I love it here. I love South Carolina. I love being a Gamecock. I love where the program’s headed. I’m so excited about the future here, and I want to be here.’ That says a lot about the program here too. Having guys that want to be here and want to be a part of what’s happening. I was extremely pleased and happy. I talked to his mother that night and she said the same thing.”

On the offense and what’s keeping them from reaching the level of explosiveness many expected…
“First of all, Deebo Samuel is hurt. That hurts. That obviously takes away our most explosive playmaker in our first three games of the season. I think from an explosive play standpoint, we had eight explosives the other day. I think our goal is eight. You go into a game and you have eight explosives you’re going to be able to put yourself in a position to win the game, win the field position battles and score points. The issue we’ve got now is that we’ve got to score more points. We’ve had missed opportunities in the high fringe and the area of the red zone. We’ve got to convert those into points and touchdowns in those situations. That’s something we just have not done.”

On the back-and-forth nature of Texas A&M’s games and if that changes his approach…
“You’ve got to play the game and obviously have a plan of how you want to play the game going into it. That certainly can change based on the flow of the game and how the game is going. They’ve got some explosive playmakers; there’s no doubt about that. They’ve got some guys on defense that can change the game quickly. Obviously, they’re leading the league in sacks. That tells you something. They’ve got guys that can win in one-on-one situations. Again, I think we’ll continue to evolve offensively. We’ll capitalize on more situations that we haven’t the last two weeks and put more points on the board.”

On Daniel Fennell’s progress…
“He’s been backing Bryson Allen-Williams up at SAM (linebacker) for the most part. We were nickel most of the other day, so he was mostly at the buck position for us. I thought he did a really nice job. He set the edge on a couple runs that went really well. He came free on several rushes in the pass rush game that we had come up with in the game plan. He came free in the gap several times, pressuring the quarterback. He got his first career sack. He was very productive.”

On Jake Bentley’s interceptions…
“I think the first one against NC State was inn the third down situation was as good as a punt. There was a 50/50 ball, I think it was Brian or Deebo, I don’t remember who it was. But it was a 50/50 ball down the field. Against Kentucky, it was a poor decision on the sideline. Over on their sideline, we were in the high red. We can’t turn the ball over in that situation or just throw it up in that situation there. That wasn’t im one-on-one, it was in the coverage so that was probably a poor decision there. The other day we had a re-route based on a rolled-up corner and Hayden sat down where you’re supposed to and Jake led him outside which you can’t do. That was a poor decision there. Then the late one against Kentucky was in a drop eight situation. He was trying to fit it in on the sideline. We needed to get chunks of yardage. We’re down 10. He’s trying to fit the ball in. So really, you’re looking at two decisions out of the four, in my opinion, that he would’ve liked to have back.”

On the offensive tempo…
“Well that’s a discussion we felt obviously two weeks ago we needed. We needed to speed it up and we did in the second half. We moved much better there at times on Saturday in the second half. We moved up-tempo and certainly functioned a little bit better. Certainly, that is a discussion that is an everyday discussion for us on some of the depth issues we’ve got defensively on how fast we can really go with football. At the end of the day we need to be more productive on offense, so that’s going to win out for me and what we need to do to win the game and that’s to be more productive offensively.”

On the need to play in order to develop as a quarterback…
“You don’t play, you don’t know. You don’t have any idea until a guy actually goes and plays. I thought Jake [Bentley] would play well last year, but I didn’t know until he actually went out there and executed a play, so we could see the way he prepares himself in practice and in the meeting room, those sorts of things. I wouldn’t even say it’s just the quarterback; it’s all positions. On how the guys play when the lights turn on, when it really counts.”

On if the Texas A&M offense is the best the defense could see this year…
“There’s no question that when you look at their numbers, they have been extremely explosive. They have had a lot of explosive playmakers. They do a good job of getting their players in who can make plays in space and make you tackle in space. I don’t think there’s any question that this is the most explosive offense we’ve had to face all year.”

On Rashad Fenton and the secondary…
“Rashad [Fenton] is playing extremely well at corner; he’s played really good football and has done a much better job of playing the ball down the field as opposed to a year ago. I’ve been really pleased with how he’s played so far this year. I think we’ve improved from game one to now. I think we’ve all seen how NC State has a pretty good quarterback and they’ve got some talented receivers outside so that wasn’t just us. They did a nice job against Missouri; we stayed on top and didn’t give them any explosives except for one with Jamarcus (King) on their sideline and the one bust in the middle with the tight end. We stayed on top of them for the most part in those situations and did the things we need to do to win the game. We did a decent job in our third week and last week, again, the one explosive was in miscommunication and that’s really on us as a coaching staff. That was not on the players. We got the call in late and we didn’t communicate it properly, but that was not the players’ fault. I think we need to get our hand on some more balls. Jamarcus (King) was a huge interception the other day. We haven’t gotten our hands on as many balls as I would have liked at this point, but I think for the most part we have done a nice job in keeping guys cut off down the field.”

On playing night games and waiting all day to play…
“It is what it is, and both teams have to do the same thing. We get them up in the morning; we eat breakfast and have a special teams walkthrough. We have offensive and defensive walkthroughs. We have a film session separately, offensive and defensive, to kind of go through some things. We kind of give the guys a little time to decompress a little bit. We eat pre-game meal four hours prior to kickoff, then we have some more meetings right before we go to the stadium and go over some last-minute reminders and such. It’s the same routine whether we’re playing at noon or we’re playing at six or seven-thirty, regardless of that, that is kind of what we do.”

On the recent protests surrounding the National Anthem at NFL games…
“I addressed the team this morning, obviously after this weekend. One of the great rights as an American citizen is freedom of speech. It’s one of the things that makes this country what it is. Standing up for what you believe in, to me, is freedom of speech, and that’s a right that every American citizen has, and that’s what makes this country great. I talked to our team about the people that stood up for what they believed a long time ago about this country, and that’s why we are where we are today. My point would be, listen, we can agree to disagree – at the end of the day that’s one of my favorite sayings. We don’t have to agree. It doesn’t make someone right. It doesn’t make someone else wrong. But certainly, standing up for what you believe in is extremely important to me, and I addressed that with our players.”

On reminding the team that their record is 3-1…
“We don’t really talk about the past. Each week is a season to us; our season right now is Texas A&M. We approach each game as if it’s the season right here; it’s all we need to worry about and all we need to focus on. We really worry a lot about taking care of South Carolina and our preparation in what we do and how we do it, how we go about it. We try to emphasize those things as much as possible. We don’t really talk about the past much.”

On the team’s success away from home this season and if the Texas A&M trip is similar to the Missouri trip…
“It is very similar for the players as far as the routine is concerned. That is certainly something good, when you have something to base off of and having success. I think those are things you always try to draw experience from for your players. Especially younger players where this is their first year making some of these trips, some it’s the first time they have ever gotten on a plane. Brad Johnson asked how we were getting to Missouri and I said ‘we’re flying; we aren’t taking a bus, bud.’ (laughs) I remember my days at West Georgia and Valdosta State; we took some buses. But that was a true question.”

On the struggle to find consistency on offense with several injuries on the line…
“From that standpoint, we expect those guys to play at a high level. I thought Sadarius (Hutcherson) did an outstanding job when he came in. Malik (Young) has played right tackle before. He flipped over and did a nice job. We need Blake Camper to be ready and D.J. Park to be ready. Chandler Farrell, those guys have to be ready to go play in the game. We expect them to play at a high level when the get in there. Man-down, man-up. Regardless of the situation or circumstances, we’ve got to play well.”

On the early success of Sadarius Hutcherson last week when he entered the game…
“Part of being a good football player is being an intelligent football player, and Sadarius is. To have position flexibility, that creates value for you as a football player. When you have versatility to your game, to be able to play tackle, to be able to play guard. Certainly we feel comfortable in those four positions of him being able to do that. A lot of that goes back to being a smart football player.”

On Deebo Samuel’s timetable and if he hopes Deebo can return this season…
“Certainly, but again, that’s not going to be for awhile. I talked to him yesterday in the training room a little bit. We didn’t discuss a timetable or anything like that. He’s doing well, and doing all of the bone stimulation and all of the different stuff that they do. I haven’t really had any other conversations with Clint Haggard or any of our other training staff about it at this point. Certainly, we’d welcome it if it happens but to me, he’s got to be completely healthy. That’s something we’ll worry about in a month or so.”

On the game plan changes he might make when facing an inexperienced quarterback…
“Depending on what their skillset is – are the a pocket passer or a dual-threat – if they’re able to do some different things, we’d like to try and take away the best thing they can (do). It’s funny you ask; I went back last night and looked at the Arkansas game. I looked at the (Louisiana) Lafayette game and what plays are being called. They’re not changing based on whether (Jake) Hubenak is in the game or Kellen Mond is in the game, as far as what they do down-and-distance wise. They’re running what they run. They’re calling what they call, from a drop-back standpoint, from a run game standpoint, it’s all the same. I don’t know that it changes a lot about those situations. Obviously, we do chart what their completion percentage is versus eight-drop, four-man rush with zone, four-man rush with man, five-man pressure, and plus-one pressure. Those are all things that we do. We go back and look at hard, how they’re playing the position as far the throwing game is concerned.”

On the standards for the freshmen contributors…
“No, they’re expected to play well when they get on the field. We don’t accept anything but that. I’m never going to tap them on the shoulder and say ‘that’s okay, you’re a freshman.’ That’s not part of the deal. Part of the deal is that they’ve got to go play well when they’ve got their opportunity. We wouldn’t put them out there if we thought they wouldn’t play well.”


 

 

 

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