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Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Oct. 24, 2017


Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media at his weekly news conference Tuesday. Several players spoke as well including Jake Bentley, Mon Denson, Sadarius Hutcherson, D.J. Wonnum, JaMarcus King and Joseph Charlton.

Opening Statement
“We’ve got Vanderbilt at 4 o’clock here at Williams-Brice. (They’re an) experienced football team, with 18 seniors back and 12 senior starters on both sides of the ball. You start on offense and Ralph Webb, a guy I’ve got tremendous respect for. (He’s a) great competitor and runs the ball extremely hard. (Khari) Blasingame complements them extremely well, a big back, 240 lbs. Kyle Shurmur is playing extremely well this year, with 14 touchdown passes and two interceptions. He’s throwing the ball very efficiently down the field. The receivers are all guys that we’ve faced: (C.J.) Duncan, (Trent) Sherfield and (Kalija) Lipscomb, all guys that we’ve faced the last couple of years. They’ve got really good skill outside.

“(Derek) Mason does a great job with their defense. They’re multiple in what they do. They attack you week-to-week differently in how they want to go after you. Derek does a great job, and they’re very good on special teams, so we’ve got our work cut out for us here at home. We expect a great crowd, and we’re looking forward to getting back home.

On Carolina’s injury situation…
“Corey Helms, Zack Bailey and Malik Young all practiced and will play Saturday. Who will start in those spots will be determined through the week and who practices the best and gives us the best opportunity to have a good starting five on the offensive line. How much those guys play will depend obviously on their health and how they’re progressing throughout the game. Questionable would be Terry Googer and Chad Terrell right now.”

On Saturday’s game, which spotlights Breast Cancer Awareness…
“It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ll have a sticker on our helmet and also have pink wristbands to honor that, which I know affects a lot of the members of our football team and our staff.”

On his recruitment process of D.J. Wonnum…
“Really Lance Thompson and Travaris Robinson both discovered him. He’s a guy that has a tremendous work ethic. They were able to see him work out at Stephenson High School and liked his flexibility in his lower body. They liked his growth potential. He could be a big man when all is said and done. His dad, Dennis Sr., is a big man to begin with. Actually, his parents are from Thomaston, Georgia, where my wife is from. We made a quick connection on the recruiting trail. Thomaston’s not a big town. So, we made a quick connection there. They’re an outstanding family. D.J. is a hard-working guy in our program. He comes to meetings early. He comes to practice early. He’s out getting warmed up on his own. He’s a self-starter. The guy is blessed with a lot of ability, but he’s got a lot of the intangible qualities that a lot of good players have. I’m certainly happy for him and his production because it’s paid off from some of the effort and hard work that he’s put in.”

On choosing to receive in the coin toss…
“We always look at matchups and what we feel like best suits us to get a good start in the game. I felt like offensively, we’ve had good matchups. I feel like we have the confidence in our players to go out and get some drives going offensively. The first ball game of the year we returned a kickoff for a touchdown. I know Deebo Samuel isn’t here anymore, but that was a good start. The second ballgame of the year we missed a field goal against Missouri. I believe the third game of the year the first play was a touchdown. Fourth ballgame of the year we missed a field goal. Fifth ballgame of the year I think we went three and out at Texas A&M. Sixth ball game of the year we missed another field goal. We’ve missed nine field goals this year. That’s been a little bit deflating for (us) offensively. To put the drive together, and 8- 9- 10-play drive, I think we’ve had 12 or 14 over 10-play drives. We’ve missed field goals in several situations. That’s deflating for your football team. Hopefully we’ve improved on that stat. But again, it goes back to matchups. What we feel like would put our best foot forward to start the game and get our guys emotionally charged early in the game.”

On the off week…
“I think we had a good off week. I think sometimes when you don’t have a game Saturday, it’s hard, especially for young players, to focus and practice the right way. I was okay with how we practiced in the off week. I was very pleased with how we practiced Monday. We were fresh and our guys came. We had about an hour-fifteen or hour and twenty-minute practice and I think we were very crisp on the field. I think the guys understand the opponent we have in front of us is Vanderbilt.”

On a potential SEC East title…
“We’re focused on Vanderbilt right now and anything past that doesn’t really matter. We’ve got to accomplish what we need to accomplish on Saturday afternoon. We haven’t talked about anything other than Vanderbilt in our organization.”

On Mon Denson’s progress this season and if he was frustrated not seeing the field last season…
“Sure, you come to South Carolina to get a great education and compete and play. When you’re not playing, it’s always frustrating. You put in a lot of time. We’re talking about in the offseason and the weight room. The amount of time these young men spend listening to Jeff Dillman holler and scream. (laughs) That drives me nuts just thinking about it. You spend all that time in the offseason, you spend all that time in the summer, and you invest so much to not get the return and gratification of going out and playing. There’s no doubt about that. Mon’s never been a negative guy. He’s always been a very positive guy. He’s very popular with his teammates. That tells me a lot about the type of person he is. He’s a wonderful person. He’s a guy that just needs to be ready when his number’s called. He’s a great example for everybody. If you look at Blake Camper, if you look at a lot of examples on our football team, and we’ve had some injuries. When your numbers call you need to be ready to play and play at a high level. And Mon certainly did.”

On Sadarius Hutcherson and what he’s learned being in the starting lineup…
“Absolutely, when your first start is at College Station in that environment. I don’t think there’s any question that he has improved tremendously. He’s also repping at left tackle right now with Dennis Daley, as well as Malik Young. I think any time you’re able to shuffle the deck you create experience and you create depth on your team. It’s not about putting in the next guy; it’s about putting in the best available player in the game. We’ve certainly been able to do that. I think Eric (Wolford) is doing a really good job of cross-training guys and teaching them not just a position, but concepts within the offensive line. It’s created some depth for our football team. I think the last two weeks especially they’ve played extremely well against SEC opponents. Especially in the second half with wearing people down and being able to run the football. We were able to do that in both games.”

On his standards for the team…
“I think we expect to win. We understand that order to do that you have to prepare the right way. You have to practice the right way. You have to go into meetings with the right frame of mind. You have to do the walk through in the right frame of mind. We need to continue to learn and understand your opponent. You have to respect your opponent. We’ve got great respect for Vanderbilt. In order to play well you have to give yourself an opportunity to the win the game on Saturday. I think this team understands that and understands the task at hand. I think all the other stuff is just clutter you create in your life. Right now, we need to have singular focus on Vanderbilt, and that’s what we have to do.”

On reflecting on how far the team has progressed from last year…
“To me, you reflect when the year is over. We’ve got a lot of football left to play. I told our guys: you’ll be defined by how you end the season, and it starts with Vanderbilt. That’s how this team will be defined. You reflect when the year is over, not while you’re in the middle of the season.”

On the early signing period…
“I think that we’ve had a lot more discussions as a staff about where we are and what the young men may be thinking, and what are his thoughts in the visits. Do we need to get him in during the season? You obviously speed the calendar up a little bit because of that, because you don’t want young men to make a decision in December and he hasn’t come to your campus officially. That’s always a concern. How serious is he if he hasn’t been here yet? Those are the conversations you’re having because at the end of the day, if the guy signs in December it’s done. We have had some extensive conversation, longer than we have before (because of) the urgency in finding out. We’ve got an opportunity for some (mid-year enrollees) this year. So we’ve got to be able to be in a situation to know the guys we’re going to be able to take.”

On the December signing period and if he knows how many student-athletes will opt to utilize the period…
"I would love to say yes, but everyone is entitled to change their mind. Suddenly you talk to a young man one week, and (he says) ‘I’m signing in December,” and you're scheduling a visit then (he says) ‘you know what coach, I want to wait until February,” the next time you talk. Whatever happens, happens. At the end of the day, you have to be very fluid with it. That's part of recruiting and understanding things change and not getting frustrated with it. It's their time, and you've got to understand that part of it as well."

On the benefits of having an off week…
"I'll let you know about the off week at the end of the (Vanderbilt) game. That determines if we had a good one or not. We spent a lot of time recruiting; we recruited Monday, Thursday and Friday. We spent a lot of time studying ourselves number one on Sunday and then studying some opponents Sunday night. Tuesday and Wednesday we started on Vanderbilt. We spent some time looking ahead a little bit. I always like to be able to do that, just because you don’t have the game sitting right in front of you. You’re able to relax and watch the tape and get some ideas to generate as you get into game week for that team. We were able to do that.”

On Rico Dowdle’s absence and if that puts more responsibility on Jake Bentley’s shoulders…
“No, I don’t think we change, as far as not wanting to run the football. We need to stay balanced in what we do. There’s no doubt about that. And, obviously, we expect Jake (Bentley) to play well and in order for us to play well offensively, we rely on him. And, we need for him to play well in order for us to be successful.”

On the Vanderbilt defensive scheme…
“Well, I think schematically Derek (Mason) does a really good job of tackling protections. He understands the protection, whether it’s slot protection and there’s three-three protection; you know, whatever the case may be. And I think, schematically, he does a very good job of creating some one-on-ones, especially 77 (Nifae Lealao) and 34 (Dare Odeyingbo) inside, two really good inside players. (Number) 11 (Charles) Wright is a guy on the edge you’ve got to deal with, so, I think he does a great job of creating one-on-one matchups.”

On the importance of Ellis Johnson as an analyst with the team…
“Ellis is a guy that’s been in our league for a long time and has a great understanding of our league from an analyst standpoint, analyzing on both sides of the ball. Some things we do well, some things we need to work on. But, I think it’s always important to have somebody else’s perspective that I’ve got great respect for.

“He looks ahead at our opponents as far down the road and stuff. But, he does a lot of quality control work for us within our house of South Carolina offense and defense.”

On Sadarius Hutcherson’s role with Carolina back at full strength on the offensive line…
“Well, again, I think there’s no doubt that he played well. He improved every time out. And (he’s) a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in. And I don’t know if we are ready to make a decision right now in who’s going to start Saturday. I know he’ll play, and I know he’ll play well. And given his opportunities, he’ll do a good job.”

On the maturation of Joseph Charlton…
“He’s really come a long distance from a maturity standpoint and understanding the things, just working and being in dependable kicker. (He’s) a guy that’s always had the skillset. The guy is really talented, and he’s been critical for us in some games being able to hang the ball up there, be able to go to Texas A&M and play like Christian Kirk. And you know we’re going to get a five second hang time on the ball. We’re not going to worry about trying to kick the ball out of bounds and changing the ball. We’re going to kick the ball around the field and really (they had) no return yards for the entire game because of that hang time. He’s been able to flip the field for us in several situations to be able to win the battle of field position, which I’m thinking, in seven games, we’ve won it five or six times and a lot of it has to do with him.”

On the team’s quest to improve in the red zone…
“Well, you always want to study yourself schematically and, ‘what if we fail that?’ in those situations and we’ve looked at that. When you talk in terms of execution, I think that that’s a loose word, and it starts with coaching. That’s what it starts with – what are we calling to put the guys in a situation? And I’m talking about in all three phases, offense, defense, and special teams. If the young one doesn’t execute, we either didn’t ‘rep’ it enough, he didn’t understand it enough, and we need to find someone else to do it. At the end of the day, that’s what we’ve got to look at it. So, that’s a fancy word you say those three things. Either we’re not ‘repping’ enough in practice, or we need to find someone else who can do the job. Obviously, if we’re ‘repping’ it enough in practice and you know you’ve put in front of him enough times and he doesn’t understand how to do it, we’ve got to find someone else to do it if we can. So, those are things to me that we’ve evaluated and looked at and there are some things that we like moving forward a little better maybe that we have in some other games. At the end of the day, we’ve missed nine field goals this year. We’ve turned the ball over on downs on the 1-yard line. We’ve turned the ball over, as far as a turnover, inside the five and had another turnover in the high red zone. It’s a lot of points that we’ve left on the field. And, it’s very frustrating. It’s also very deflating for an offense and for a football team to come out of those situations. We’ve lost two games by a grand total of seventeen points. Add up all those trips in the red zone, it comes up to about eighteen points. But, at the end of the day, it’s frustrating. And, again, we’ve got to be able to not turn the ball over down there. We’ve got to be able to convert some short-yardage and goal line situations better, and those are the things we’ve gone back and looked at.”

On the importance of the first two downs and how success there can help the Gamecocks on 3rd down…
“We’ve looked at some management situations, and that’s always an evaluation where you say ‘okay, what put us in 3rd and 12?’ That’s not a good down and distance to be playing from. You want to manage 3rd and 6 or less. 3rd and 3-to-6 is a manageable down and distance. Those are all things that we’ve looked at. Certainly 1st and 2nd down have a lot to do with it, but then you go back on 3rd down and say ‘okay, these are the things that are working well for us, and these are the things that haven’t worked.’ Because you look at the Tennessee game; we don’t convert a 3rd down in the first half, and then you come back, and you have pretty much 100-percent (success) until the last one of the game down in the red zone, where we were going to try to run the ball and kick a field goal to make it a two-score game. You look in terms of the two losses we’ve had. We’ve had 25 drives, and we’ve had 14 three-and-outs in those two ballgames. You’ve got to convert some 3rd downs to stay on the field. When we’re able to stay on the field, we’ve been very effective, as far as those things are concerned. That, to me, is why I narrowed down 3rd down as a critical down for us offensively. But also defensively, because where we’ve struggled defensively is when we haven’t gotten off the field on some 3rd down situations. When you look at Louisiana Tech and Kentucky, those two games, we had a hard time getting off the field and really struggled. It caused us to flip the field and not be able to get back going in our direction.”

On penalties and how the coaching staff has addressed penalties that the team commits…
“That’s all objective when you look at is. Is the young man in position to make a play on the ball? Should he have played the ball in those situations? We had two really poor decisions (against Tennessee), two blocks in the back that killed us field position-wise. We have not had (those) all year, two really poor decisions by two players; that’s been addressed. To me, I look back, and we did have one (pass interference) in the back of the end zone, which was a good decision by our player. So I think you evaluate all of those plays individually. You go back and study them and say ‘okay, what could we have told the player better in this situation?’ And you try to be technical in your approach. You don’t comb them all together and say ‘this is all pass interference,’ or ‘this is all holding.’ To me it’s all individual situations, but I do still think we are the least penalized team in the SEC, which really has nothing to do with winning, but I guess it’s good to say we’re disciplined.”

On the team’s ability to create and stop explosive plays…
“Whenever you’re able to have more explosives, it’s going to create more scoring opportunities. You create field position for yourself. You create shorter fields for yourself. You create scores for yourself. I think we’ve improved tremendously in the last two games in the run game. I think we had eight explosive runs against Tennessee, which is over 10 yards to me. That’s the most we’ve had all year. I think six of them occurred in the second half, so we wore down our opponent. In those situations, we’ve got to continue to look at some things in the run game, to create more explosives for us. I think if you look at numbers of 20-yard passes in the SEC, I think we’re very comparable with everybody else in the league. We’re in the upper half of the league as far as those things are concerned.

“Defensively, I think that late there, the one big pass was the one explosive pass we gave up last week against Tennessee. That was a busted coverage; there’s nothing you can do with that other than cover the guy. I look at all of those situations one play at a time. Why did these things happen? Did we get bounced out of a gap? Was it having troubles with eye control or a busted assignment? Was it a missed tackle? Lack of covering a guy? Whatever those situations are, I do think, for the most part, we had more explosives in the Missouri game than we’ve given up all year. A lot of that was the perimeter passing game. That’s something they do, the comebacks and Drew Lock being able to throw the ball outside against some guys. We haven’t given up a lot of explosives other than the 61-yarder against Missouri there on the pop pass. We busted it, carrying the guy down the middle, (and) as far as just big scores, honestly, and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

On his confidence in the running game with three offensive linemen returning this week…
“We just need to stay balanced in what we do. That’s something that those guys have experienced coming back, but I’ve been really proud of Sadarius Hutcherson and Blake Camper, the guys that have filled in and done a nice job. Dennis Daley – they’ve all done a nice job for us. The best motivator I have is competition. Those guys understand that if they practice the best, they’ll start, and if they practice good enough, they’ll play. That’s where we are right now.”

On Chris Lammons’ adjustment to the safety position and if that’s gone as well as he expected…
“Absolutely. He’s done an outstanding job. Sometimes that’s a hard move for a guy that really played well at the corner last year for us. All of a sudden, you’re asking him to move and play a totally different position that’s a little bit foreign to him. But he’s worked extremely hard at it, and I think he’s been very productive. Versatility creates value for you as a player. This is going to really help him moving forward. He’s also played a bunch of nickel snaps for us as well. He can play multiple spots. He’s extremely bright, extremely intelligent. He has man coverage ability, which is going to really help him moving forward. He’s been a guy that’s made some really nice plays for us this year.”


 

 

 

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