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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Oct. 4, 2016

Game Information

Date: Sunday, October 9, 2016

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series: Georgia leads 48-18-2, but the Gamecocks have won 4 of the last 6, including the last 3 at WBS

TV: SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung)

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 83/XM 190

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Game Day Information
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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 Win, 20-15
9/24 at Kentucky Loss, 10-17
10/1 Texas A&M Loss, 13-24
10/9 Georgia 2:30 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 Georgia Saturday night. (They are) a really good football team. When you look at their season and their two losses, they went to Oxford and played a really good Ole Miss football team. Ole Miss is a team that, if they don't turn the ball over, they're probably undefeated right now. They're as explosive on offense as anybody right now and certainly played extremely well that day in Oxford. And everybody saw the ending of the game last week at Georgia. They played extremely well against a very good Tennessee football team, and they had every opportunity in the world to win the game. So, we've got our work cut out for us.

"Jim Cheney is their offensive coordinator, a guy I've got a lot of respect for. They're extremely talented with playmakers. Nick Chubb, we're expecting (him) to be full speed. He's one of the best backs in college football. He runs through contact, has a low center of gravity and has really good acceleration. He catches the ball really well and does a great job in protection. He's an all-around good football player and a great person. I had the pleasure of recruiting him and really enjoyed getting to know him. Sony Michel -- same thing. He's an explosive playmaker for them and has great top-end speed. Isaiah McKenzie is a guy who's really special with the ball in his hands. They're very creative with the way they've gotten the ball in his hands. Reggie Davis is a top-end speed guy. He's probably as fast a receiver as there is in our league, and Terry Godwin is another guy. (They're) really talented at the tight end position. They're young. Jeb Blazevich and Isaac Nauta and those guysare really talented, and of course they've gone with Jacob Eason as their quarterback. He's a guy with big-time arm talent. He can make all the throws, and certainly the vertical passing game is alive for those guys with his arm strength and what he's been able to do.

"Mel Tucker is their defensive coordinator, and obviously (head coach) Kirby (Smart) is very involved. They're big and athletic. They're young up front. The run extremely well at the linebacker position. Natrez Patrick, Roquan Smith and Reggie Carter are three guys who make a lot of plays for them, and Dominick Sanders is as good a safety as there is in our league. They're really athletic defensively.

"On special teams, Isaiah McKenzie is an issue in the return game for us. He's really electric when the ball is in his hands, and they do a great job trying to create some things for him.

"So it ought to be a good game Saturday night. Kirby and I are great friends. I've got a lot of respect for him as a coach and as a person, so we're looking forward to playing Georgia on Saturday night."

On the potential weather issues and if he has been involved in discussions about possibly moving the game if necessary...
"No. Our administration is handling all of that through the SEC office. All of my energy is (toward) game-planning for the game. Whatever happens, happens. I'm not the least bit worried about it."

On whether or not the decision has been made on a starting quarterback for Saturday and if it has been communicated to the quarterbacks...
"Not totally. We're still working through some things. We've got a good idea of where we're headed with it."

On the effect an opposing freshman quarterback has on defensive game-planning...
"I think you evaluate the film, and then you make decisions as a coach. What are they letting him do? Is he doing much at the line of scrimmage as far as going from run to run, run to pass or pass to run? Protection-wise, what are they doing? I think it's all different. It's not just that he's a freshman quarterback. I think everybody has their leash as far as how much they let someone do. I think they are letting him do a lot, in my opinion. And they've got a lot of looks, a lot of personnel packages, a lot of different things they're doing offensively. So with that being said, I think they're really throwing a lot at him."

On conversations he had with Kirby Smart when they coached together about what their approach would be as head coaches...
"No, we were just worried about stopping somebody. We worked together on the defensive side of the ball. We never had any discussion about that. We were just trying to get off the field on third down."

On the bond he has with Kirby Smart and if they are kindred spirits as the sons of coaching fathers...
"I don't think so. His father and my dad, we were together one year at Georgia. We sat together at games, and (Colorado State head coach) Mike Bobo's dad as well. I think that, obviously, (we had) similar paths so to speak, but again, I think that was just a small part of it."

On the key to staying consistent on offense...
"There's no doubt we'd like to get out as quick as we can, but we need to finish well as well, and we didn't do that the other night. Getting out to a good start is great, but I want our team to play a complete game. Offense, defense and special teams, and do it for 60 minutes, and continue to improve where we are as a football team and program, and that's what we're looking forward to."

On the pulse of the locker room and if the team is focused on Georgia...
"(It's) very good. You don't need to get them focused. Our guys are excited about Georgia. We've got a lot of respect for Georgia. We had a really good up-tempo practice today, (with) guys bouncing around. It was a very, very good practice."

On the offensive line and which guy has graded out the best through five games...
"Zack Bailey has been our best lineman through five games. I do think that was the best front seven we've seen this year, Texas A&M. I thought we blocked them well at times. In our league, when you face dominating lines, it's hard to sustain as much as you would like, but I thought we did a nice job against Texas A&M. So I think we've made some progress. Has it always been perfect? Has it been what we wanted all the time? No. But I certainly think we've improved, and getting Blake Camper back, and getting Donnell Stanley back after the open week is certainly going to help us. I'm pleased with Malik Young's effort. I think we've got to clean up some things technique-wise and a couple of assignments, but from an effort standpoint, I think Malik plays with tremendous effort, and that is exciting."

On the possibility of playing three different running backs on Saturday...
"We talk about touches going into every game, and certain situations we want to get those guys those looks. But we feel good about the three quality backs we have. All three will play Saturday, depending on how many snaps we have. All of those things we'll dictate through the game as it goes. You always have a plan going in. That isn't always how it happens when you get into the game situation."

On the offense, and if he feels they are getting closer to putting up points consistently...
"I think we've made improvement. As we move forward, starting with Texas A&M obviously, the defenses we're playing are going to be better. We've got to continue to make strides. Today at practice, having Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards back, (makes us) better coaches. It's funny how that works. That's good to see, and that's exciting to see. Our players feel that too. It gives us some more options in the offense as far as what we can do. I think we're improving. We're certainly not where we were, thank goodness, but not where we need to be."

On the potential of redshirting wide receiver Lorenzo Nuñez...
"Right now I think it's the best thing for him, to have the year in the weight room, coming off the knee injury, missing really all of spring and summer as far as lifting and running. It was a little more serious than we originally thought. Right now he's changing his body in the weight room. He's working with us on the offense as far as route-running and those things are concerned. I think he's made tremendous improvements, and he will continue to improve, and the best thing for him right now is to be redshirted. He wants that and we want that as well."

On the impact of Chaz Elder's return...
"Chaz played probably 30-something snaps, but I thought it was solid. He had a pretty serious injury on the ribs there, and he'll continue to improve, and we need him to play better. He would be the first one to tell you that. But it was good to get him back on the field. He's a very good communicator; he really handles motion and formation adjustments and things very well for us."

On his strategy with one minute left in the first half...
"Well I think that number one how has the first half progressed? What are you doing well? Number two is field position. If you're at midfield or if you're at the 30-plus more and you feel good about how you've played in the first half, you'd like to go try and get some points. Obviously depending on time. When it was at 38 seconds the other night we were on our 20 I believe, I don't think at the time for us to go in 7-7 at the half, we were in a good spot. We didn't need to do anything at that point in my opinion to put their very explosive offense back on the field, which I also think, that figures into it as well. So there are a lot of things you figure in, but speaking for the other night their offense, their explosiveness on offense to be able to have Reynolds at some of the length they had at receiver position and putting them back on the field. We had not thrown it extremely well in the first half, so that's what we're going to need to do in order to get it back, because we had no timeouts, and I think it was either 38 or 42 seconds. We were on about our 20-yard line, and I didn't want to put us in that situation of making a mistake and giving up a score before half, because I really felt like we had good momentum going into halftime. To answer your question as far as just generally, I think a lot depends on how the first half is going. I think a lot depends on field position and if you get to that minus-30 area where you feel good about that how well you're throwing the ball with no timeouts and how well you're manage the game offensively. How good is the other offense? Are you willing to put them back on the field again and play on a short field and hold them to a field goal? So I think all of those things are things that go through my mind when we are in those situations."

On the Georgia-South Carolina game in his junior season as a player with the Bulldogs...
"I remember it was one of the hottest days on the field that I've ever been a part of. Eric Zeier played really well, my roommate in college for Georgia. Brandon Bennett was outstanding that day, and this summer he brought his sons down and we visited about that game. It was a great win for South Carolina at the time and certainly not a good day for us, the guys between hedges that day. Those guys (laughs)."

On tight end Hayden Hurst and if he recruited him out of high school...
"I don't recall the name, thank goodness, so I'm glad he's here. He signed (to play) baseball at Florida State; he went to Bolles High School and was a very good friend of Gary Condron. I think the Florida (indoor practice facility) is named after him. He is a very good friend of their family's. And when baseball didn't work out for Hayden, he was looking for some different options, and his father talked to Gary and just wanted to explore some different things looked at Florida and Florida State I'm assuming. Baseball was paying for his school at the time and fortunately there was an opportunity to come here because obviously Gary had a really good relationship with Jamie Speronis and Coach Spurrier, and that's where the connection was made. We were able to have him come in here as a walk-on and thank goodness because he's a heck of a football player.

"In watching the film, you see his athleticism, and you don't really get a feel for how big and strong a guy is and what he an do for you in his position we're playing which is really perfect for what his skill set is. He's just going to keep getting better. He hasn't played a lot of football, and he will just continue to rise."

On the status of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards and if they are a full-go for Saturday...
"Yep, they're good."

On coaching against his alma mater at Georgia and if that's strange for him at all...
"Not really. I mean probably the first time I (was a graduate assistant) against them when I was at Auburn in 1995 and 1996. It is what it is.

"In 1995 we beat them over there and '96 was the overtime game with about four overtimes at Auburn."

On the philosophy of defending the Hail Mary pass...
"It's one of the calls, when you call it and they didn't convert, it was a great call. When you call it and it didn't work, you should have done this. Philosophically, I think we talk in terms of, from the 30-yard line and outside the end zone. I think of who the quarterback is, what are your matchups outside, how well does the quarterback throw the ball and how accurate is he throwing the ball? What are your matchups? If you've got smaller corners against bigger receivers, then it makes it a little bit more difficult sometimes to get in those jump ball situations. So you can say `we are going to rush three and drop eight, and have a body on a body, and then we are going to have a three- or four-deep on top of it to knock the ball down.' We do that as well. (Coach Smart) and I come from the same school, so that's one thought. The other thought is to bring a five-man pressure and play some form, you can say it's middle-field or man or zone. At the end of the day, it's a one-on-one situation in the end zone, so that goes back to what are your matchups? And if you've got a 5-8 corner vs. a 6-4 receiver, that's not a really good matchup for you."

On Hayden Hurst's baseball background and if that could lead to him fielding punts on Saturday...
"He did very well today. We haven't made a full decision on who will be back, but certainly Kiel Pollard has really good ball skills, and he's been back catching. Hayden's been back catching. Ball possession is the most important thing; if we had ball possession the other day, we're going to tie the game. So that's the most important thing for us right now. It's been too much of an issue, and we aren't gaining enough anyways on punt returns, so let's get ball possession."

On how Georgia's defense is taking time to adjust to head coach Kirby Smart's system...
"I don't think you judge anybody until the year is over. They played a very good Tennessee team, and it was a 17-0 game right before halftime. Obviously, they played a quality offensive team very well."

On if they Gamecocks will look to throw it deep more with Perry Orth on the field...
"The playbook was very open for Brandon (McIlwain's) skillset. That changes a little bit with Perry (Orth). We'll have some things dialed up when Brandon is in the game that fit him a little better than they would for Perry. Against East Carolina, Brandon threw the deep ball very well. We had some things dialed up in Lexington, and we didn't hit any of them. We did take some shots vertically, but we didn't hit them. Certainly, Perry did a really good job when he came in the game the other night."

On if there are frustrations with South Carolina's offensive production this season...
"It's a team game. Defensively, we had some opportunities to make some interceptions and some stops the other night. They opened the game with a touchdown drive, and they opened the second half with a touchdown drive. It creates momentum for the other team. We haven't played that well defensively in my opinion. We need to play better and do more to help our football team win games."

On Javon Charleston and if he will stay at wide receiver permanently...
"Right now he's going to stay with the offense. We have enough flexibility with Steven Montac, who can play safety or corner and nickel or dime in the inside position. D.J. Smith can be an emergency fifth corner if he has to be. We have enough flexibility with different guys in different spots."

On what Jim Cheney's offensive philosophy has been over the years...
"His style has changed. He was with Drew Brees at Purdue, and they were as spread as spread can be. He did a fantastic job. He served some time with the NFL and at Tennessee with Derek Dooley. He was at Arkansas with a traditional two-back ground and pound style. He was at Pittsburgh last year in a very similar offense. He has enough background to fit what his players can do. He's a very good play caller, and he stays balanced with what they do."

On facing a good friend of his in Kirby Smart...
"It is what it is. He's a good friend of mine, but at the end of the day it's South Carolina and Georgia in a great environment here. I know our fans will be ready to go regardless of the weather. They'll be excited."



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