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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Sept. 27, 2016

Game Information

Date: Saturday, October 1, 2016

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series: Texas A&M leads 2-0 with the Gamecocks tallying 28 points in both contests

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

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 126/XM 192

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Recent Headlines
Gamecock Football Introduces Season Ticket for Parents Williams-Brice Stadium Nationally Recognized for Safety and Security Football Ops Building Named Muschamp Named to Dodd Preseason Watch List Bentley, Samuel and Wonnum to Represent Carolina at SEC Media Days
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 Win, 20-15
9/24 at Kentucky Loss, 10-17
10/1 Texas A&M 4 p.m. (SECN)
10/8 Georgia 7:30 p.m. (SECN)
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
"We've got Texas A&M coming this week. They're really a complete football team. When you turn the tape on, you look at all three phases. Kevin Sumlin has done a really good job recruiting players there. They're a good-looking bunch when they come out of the locker room.

"John Chavis is the defensive coordinator. (He's) a guy I've got tremendous respect for. He's in his second year at A&M and that's normally, having been through this before as a coordinator and getting things the way you want them, as far as how you practice and your installations and those things, you see his personality taking over on defense. Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett are probably two of the best defensive ends in the country. (Armani) Watts and Justin Evans are two of the best safeties in the country. They play fast and physical, the way you're supposed to play.

"Offensively, Kevin Sumlin has done a really good job. He came from UCLA, where he spent a long time. He's a really good football coach. They play up-tempo, with the (run-pass options). They're a very talented, skilled group. At receiver, (they've got) Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones, (Damion) Ratley, Speedy Noil -- they've done a really good job recruiting receivers there. They've got guys who are going to create space; we've got to make plays in space and tackle in space. Get yourself aligned a get in the right spots. They stretch the defense, both vertically and horizontally.

"Running back Trayveon Williams, a true freshman, is an outstanding back. He's got big-time top-end speed. He's physical and runs through contact. Keith Ford is a transfer from Oklahoma who's done a really nice job, and he's a big, physical back as well. Two of their offensive tackles are NFL tackles in my opinion, really good players, but the key has been Trevor Knight. He's played well for them. He's a guy that's come in and adapted well to the system. They've done a good job putting him in situations. He's been in the fire before. He's played a lot of football, obviously, as a graduate transfer. He's played extremely well. He's a dual-threat guy. He can hurt you with his legs and throwing. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and they have a lot of good people around him.

"They have a lot of good specialists. They're very sound on special teams. They have really good returners. They put Kirk back there; they put Noil back there.

"So we've got our work cut out for us. The team speed they have, we've got to match that. 4 o'clock Saturday, getting home to Williams-Brice -- we're excited about getting back home.

"As far as injuries are concerned, Chaz Elder practiced today. We'll put him in some contact tomorrow and see how he holds up. I expect for him to play. Randrecous Davis will be out for the game. Other than that I think we're about the same as we were the week before. (Donell) Stanley and (Blake) Camper will be (out) probably until the open week, and I believe that's it."

On Texas A&M's talented defensive end tandem, and how the Gamecocks can slow them down...
"They're really good players. They're also experienced players. They both can play with speed and power. That's the concern. I think as much as anything you've got to change it up on them. You can't let them get into a rhythm on the snap count. You can't let them get into a rhythm as far as one-on-ones. Obviously (we'll try) chipping and sliding and different things. The issue is they're on opposite sides. So if you slide the line one way, the other one is getting a one-on-one. They create some issues, and you have to account for them. We met Sunday night and talked a lot about not letting those guys affect the game as much as they can. They're going to affect the game, because they're good players. But you've got to try to limit their opportunities as much as possible."

On the balance of power between the divisions of the SEC...
"I think there are good teams across our league. Certainly I think, maybe on the top end of the Western Division, it's been a little stronger maybe. Obviously, Alabama has been outstanding. I think as much as anything, that outweighs a lot of things."

On what needs to change as far as offensive performance...
"I think consistency of execution. (We need to) try and get our guys in the right looks as best as possible. Whether that's narrowing some things down, that's some conversations we're having. Obviously, if whatever we're doing is not working, we've got to try and do some different things. Those are things we've talked about. Going into the season, as we talked about a lot of things, having Deebo Samuel healthy was going to be a huge part of what we needed to do. He's played one (full) game. So we've had a hard time with the consistency at the receiver position for a young quarterback. It's just hard to develop the timing that you need to have in order to be successful. We couldn't afford really any injuries across the board. We've had some at receiver, and we've had two starters on the offensive line (go down). I'm not making excuses; I'm just being factual. It's very frustrating for our guys, and as a coach it's hard, because you're trying to put your guys in the right spots, and right now, it's hard, when you keep having to mix-and-match some different things. And you also lack experience at probably the most important position. Again, we're going to continue to work. We're going to stay positive, and that's what we need to do right now."

On the importance of the five-game home stand...
"Anytime we play at home, it's a difference. I felt that against East Carolina. It makes a difference for our football team, and we need to play well for our fans. They deserve that. There's no question playing at home makes a difference for our players."

On the veterans on the team and whether or not he's seen them encourage freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain...
"I have seen that. I think Perry Orth has been outstanding in his support. We don't have any receivers that are upperclassmen, and we don't really have any tight ends that are upperclassmen. That's a little bit of an issue. That's part of it. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. Mason Zandi and Cory Helms are guys that have played a lot of football. Cory not here, but he has played college football. And Alan Knott -- I think those guys have been very supportive during this time. It's hard. There's a lot on his plate. He's handling things well. Again, there are a lot of firsts happening. That's part of the growing process as a player, especially at that position."

On the hamstring issues endured by wide receiver Deebo Samuel...
"We're just continuing to try and manage him. We've got the Catapult (fitness tracking system), which measures workload, and all of the different factors. It's our first year doing it, so generally you're able to make better decisions moving forward on workload and fatigue and those things. He ran well today. So, I fully expect him to continue to improve as the week goes on. But I'm also not going to put a player out there that's going to risk further injury. That will be based on our medical staff and their input they give me after Thursday's practice. We'll make the decision from there. It is, obviously, something that started in high school for him, and it's continued since he's been here. Again, we've got to change what we're doing. We can't continue to do the same things and expect different results. We never had an issue throughout spring. His workloads in spring were much higher than they have been in camp or during the season. Much higher. So those are things we've got to continue to work through, and we're exhausting every measure possible to find out what we need to do for the young man, because he's very frustrated as well."

On the success of Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis...
"I think as much as anything, `Chief' is a guy that's got a personality about himself. Sometimes the old saying goes that your players will own the personality of the coach, I think there is a lot to that. With his defense at Tennessee and his defenses at LSU, now you're starting to see more of that personality work on them with Texas A&M. (It's) a mentality, and needs to be a little bit more. Obviously I think he does a really good job scheme-wise, but I think there's a little more mentality in how they play.

"When I was a young coordinator we were on separate sides, separate divisions and we had some common opponents. We talked a lot back then, but (he's) a guy that I have tremendous respect for."

On the status of freshman running back Rico Dowdle...
"Well he'll play on special teams, and then depending on how he continues to progress through the week, we've had him involved in meetings and walkthroughs and all the mental reps, so he could get as much as possible. Some players are different, and some players are able to handle that and some players aren't. He's day-to-day. We'll get to look at him tomorrow and Thursday and do a walkthrough on Friday. If he's able to give us some snaps at the running back position and it's going to help our offense, great. If not then we will continue to progress him like any other young player. But he'll play on special teams."

On run-pass options and if they help a young quarterback get comfortable with the offense...
"I think, again, it goes back to what you do well. That's what we are searching for offensively. To me, it all goes back to schematically, who you are. The (run-pass options), when you make the right decisions, get you out of bad looks. So if it's a six-man box and you don't want to run versus a six-man box with a five-man blocking surface, then you through the ball outside. It alleviates the quarterback from having to make a check, and he's able to have a quick game on outside of that; that's one thing. Then you also compile that with decision-making, you have to be able to see the box. It's a lot of fast bodies. There are two big ol' ends in there rushing. All of a sudden, you are making those decisions and you've got to hit a slant with the guy on the move with really good cover corners. Priest Willis is holing on to him there, covering him across the middle. Again how much are they able to execute those things and make those decisions, which you have to make very quickly. They are very good and very hard to defend against when run correctly, but you've got to execute."

On Texas A&M and why he's had success against them as a coach...
"We only played them once when we were at Florida. We had a great game with them there, and it opened their season. They had cancelled the week before because of a hurricane. That was Texas A&M's first official game in the SEC. That was a heck of a ball game that came right down to the end. It was a great environment, and they have a great environment at Kyle Field. The Texas/Texas A&M game is a game that should be played every year in my opinion. It's a great game for the state of Texas, but also for college football."

On the keys for South Carolina defensively against Texas A&M...
"They're going to create a lot of one-on-ones, so we're going to have to tackle in space. Against an up-tempo offense, we need to get our cleats in the dirt and play. We need to have a great urgency about ourselves in terms of getting in the right spots and seeing your reads. They can hurt you and get you off-kilter a little bit. You have to go execute, and when you play a team like this you have to tackle in plain space."

On South Carolina's goal to hold opponents around 16 points...
"It used to be 13 awhile back, and then we kind of looked at each year to see where the cutoff was for the top defenses in the country. We were at about 12 points per game at LSU, and football has changed a little bit. Everyone is taking more snaps, and there are a lot more opportunities to score. We've bumped that up the last couple years, looking to hold people to field goals in the red zone and one touchdown. That's a good goal in this day and age. The first goal is to win the game, so we make sure we talk about that first."

On keeping a positive attitude despite not getting the desired results...
"I'm just trying to be very realistic about where we are and where we're heading. I want great effort, toughness and discipline and urgency and energy in everything we do regardless of the circumstances. You come to work every day and work extremely hard. That's what you do."

On the development cornerback Jamarcus King...
"He has really stepped forward from a maturity standpoint, and he understands how important practice is. You can't just turn it on and off, and has bought into those things as far as practice is concerned. He has improved his physicality in terms of tackling, and he's been trying to get the ball of people, which is good."

On the team's defensive communication...
"I've been pretty pleased. We're going to have to have our best day Saturday. It's going to be at our place, and it's going to be loud. When you're on the road, you don't worry about it as much. When we're on defense it's going to be loud. Because of their tempo and our crowd noise, we need to have the best day communicating on defense."

On South Carolina's success with an up-tempo offense...
"As much as anything, the up-tempo pace is working when you're maintaining possession. We haven't maintained possession. We had more tempo in the first two ball games because we were able to stay on the field longer. We haven't done that as much in the last two ball games. We want to be able to pick our spots, and being able to sustain drives longer is going to help us do that more."

On Brandon McIlwain's progress running the offense and if Perry Orth could see game action...
"Again, Brandon has played well for us. He was our player of the game against East Carolina. He did some fantastic things in that ball game. None of us played very well offensively Saturday night; that's the bottom line. Like any other position, the quarterback is no different. We need to get production out of the position. If we aren't getting the right production at defensive end, we're going to put another guy in there and see what he can do. But it's Brandon's game going into it."

On the offensive line and if they have struggled to adjust to the different quarterbacks...
"I don't think so. I think, in the run game, the inside zone is the inside zone. It's run the same way, and it's blocked the same way regardless of who is in there.

"At the end of the day, both guys have legs and are able to escape if they need to and set up points. It's all the same. That doesn't change on who's in the game. We need to block better up front. We need to sustain better up front."

On Texas A&M's offense and if the use more unconventional looks than other teams...
"I don't think so. I think the reason why they have a high execution level is (because) they do what they do, and they may disguise it by a different motion or shift. Their route concepts are very consistent, and their run game is very consistent week-to-week. They get very good at what they do, and most of the good offenses I've been against are the offenses where it's more about execution than what they do."

On Texas A&M's receivers and if they can serve as an example of the kind of receiving corps Coach Muschamp is trying to build at South Carolina...
"I think if you across the board, Kevin (Sumlin) is an old receivers coach. He actually played defense in college. But, they've had bigger guys that can stretch the field vertically and have really good ball skills down the field. He's got some smaller slot receivers can play in the slot. Their outside receivers play right and left. (They) switch from a Z to an X so they've got to learn both positions and they're smart guys. They've got a variety of guys with skill levels as far a their length is concerned, as far as their size is concerned, and their quickness."

On Curing Kids Cancer and how important it is for the Carolina football program to be involved with that particular cause...
"That's something that's extremely important to me. We certainly support here at the University of South Carolina that program and to talk to those people and support something as positive as that means a lot to me."

On the health status of wide receiver Bryan Edwards...
"He tweaked his hamstring at the end of the (Kentucky) game, on a tackle on our sideline. He tweaked it a little bit, but he practiced today. He looks fine."

On the firing of Les Miles at LSU...
"I'm disappointed for Les. He's always been very good to me and very cordial to me. He did a fantastic job at LSU, and you're always disappointed to see something like that happen, but I wish him the best. He's a good football coach, and he's a good man."

On Brandon McIlwain, and whether he should be more aggressive or more passive...
"In any drop back game, whether it's play action or drop back, we have a progression read, whether he's reading half the field or he's reading full field, whether it's split-safety, whether it's middle field. We want him to take it through his progression, and whether it's from a curl to a diagonal to a check down or whatever it is, go through your natural progression. If things aren't there, then utilize your athleticism. For the most part the other night he got through his progressions pretty well."

On the running game and whether or not they're as diverse in their concepts as he would like to be...
"It's certainly not where we need it to be. Obviously we need to run it better."



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