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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Oct. 25, 2016

Game Information

Date: Saturday, October 29, 2016

Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. ET

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series: Tennessee leads 25-7-2, but 4 of Carolina's 7 wins have come since 2008.

TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 93/XM 191

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Recent Headlines
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 Football Ops Building Named Muschamp Named to Dodd Preseason Watch List
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 Loss, 14-28
10/22 UMass Win, 34-28
10/29 Tennessee 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
11/5 Missouri 4 p.m. (SECN)
11/12 at Florida TBA
11/19 Western Carolina TBA
11/26 at Clemson TBA

Opening Statement
“We’ve got Tennessee here Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. If you watch their football team, Butch Jones and his staff have done a great job recruiting. They are a big, physical, fast football team. They certainly look the part, what you’re supposed to look like.

“Defensively, Bob Shoop, their defensive coordinator, has done a great job in our league for a long time. He did a great job at Vanderbilt throughout the years. Derek Barnett is a guy, number 9, who obviously jumps off the film as far as the way he plays. He’s an extremely good rusher and really plays the run well. He’s strong at the point of attack and a really good football player. He got into zone pressure against Texas A&M and carried (wide receiver) Josh Reynolds down the field. He made some money on that play. That was impressive. They’re very active up front. They run extremely well, and they play hard.

“Offensively, (quarterback) Josh Dobbs is a three-year starter in our league. He’s won a bunch of ball games and does a great job. (Running back) Jalen Hurd is a guy that runs extremely hard. He’s tough, physical and competitive. He’s going to fight for every yard. You’re going to have to get a bunch of hats around the ball and gang-tackle this guy. You’ve got to finish on this guy. He’s a very competitive runner.

“They’re very talented outside, (with wide receivers Josh) Malone, (Jauan) Jennings, Tyler Byrd and Josh Smith. The tight ends – (Jason) Croom and (Ethan) Wolf – those guys do a really good job in their package of what they do. They’re big up front, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. They’re very talented with specialists and returners. The last four games for them have probably been as tough a run as I’ve seen in a long time in this league as far as who they’ve played and where they’ve played them. Obviously they were off this week, but I think they’ve got a really good football team.

“I think we had a really good practice today. Our guys had a really good focus. This game, in the last four years, has been decided by 11 points (combined). So it’s a closely-contested game, and we’re certainly looking forward to having a night game here at Williams-Brice.”

On the possibility of utilizing quarterback Jake Bentley in the running game…
“I feel good with that. Jake’s a much better athlete than we probably give him credit for. He can run; he will run. We do have some things in the read game that certainly he can run. We had some zone reads called the other day, but they were give reads. We have a good comfort level of him running.”

On the benefits of spending more time repping first-team players against first-team players in practice over the last two weeks…
“I think so. We certainly will see much more about how far we’ve come Saturday night. I feel like we are going against each other more, and it helps us because there’re a lot of similarities, schematically, on both sides of the ball, and that helps you. It’s so important for you to expose looks for your players to prepare them mentally for the game, and in order to do that you’ve got to rep it. But now when you’re able to sit down and have a common language and talk about offense and defense, about what they do and some of the things that we do, because they’re a lot of carry over schematically on both sides of the ball. So we went together more today probably than we have all season as far as eliminating some scout reps and going strictly good-on-good work and fastball work, and that’s how you get better. It’s a developmental game, and you have to be able to do that, especially (with) our youth. I made a mistake of not doing it earlier in the season.”

On the benefits of having a healthier offensive line…
“I think that there is no question the secondary and offensive line need to be close, tight-knit units as far as your football team is concerned. Generally, (if those players make) a mistake, the other band is playing. So that’s not good, and you’ve got to be in communication and understanding leverage and shades and how different people play you and that communication is critical. Those guys have continued to improve through those three weeks. Donell (Stanley) practiced today. It’s been seven weeks and he hasn’t practiced and he’s still a little gimpy on the ankle, but hopefully he’ll improve tomorrow. Blake Camper played Saturday, and he did some nice things. D.J. Park continues to come on for us, so we just have to continue to build that group.”

On how Jake Bentley has responded after winning against UMass…
“I think that one of his talents is his preparation and workmanlike attitude. I asked him today on the field I said ‘how much film did you get in yesterday?’ and he said ‘about two and a half hours’. That’s what you want your quarterback to do. Brandon (McIlwain) as well; those guys are learning from Perry (Orth), who prepares the right way. And those guys understand what it takes to play quarterback in our league. It takes preparation. It takes a little more ay that position opposed to some other positions. Those young men get it. and they have a great example in Perry Orth.”

On who makes the decisions with offensive line personnel…
“We will have a conversation with (offensive line coach) Shawn Elliott, but I will. I make the final call on all positions as far as what we’re going to do. I certainly listen for his input. Today, Donell – I think he needs to move a little better. I mean, it’s seven weeks (and) he hasn’t taken a snap, but I know one thing: he’s tough and to be able to do what he’s done is pretty remarkable. They thought he would be out for the season when the injury occurred. He’s been able to get back, so it’s a testament to the toughness that young man has.”

On the morale of the team and if they have fed off of Jake Bentley…
“For the most part, since we started our season, other than Wednesday of UMass, our guys practice well. It’s a process to learn how to practice the right way, when you want to go good-on-good, to be able to stay off the ground and to give great looks and good competitive edge looks. Guys get after each other. They understand how you practice the right way, and it can really help you as a tackler with playing blocks and finishing blocks on offense. I think that our guys have always approached practice the right way for the most part. We had a really bad practice last Wednesday, and other than that, I’ve been pretty pleased with our practice tempo and our approach to practice. Certainly, it can always improve, and you’re never satisfied, but I wouldn’t attribute that to Jake. I would attribute that to our football team and our staff.”

On the advantages Jake Bentley may have in preparation by having a football coach as his father…
“I wouldn’t say that. I think that I’ve coached a bunch of guys (whose) dads were lawyers, and they were prepared well too so I think there’s a little bit much made of that. As far as those things are concerned, his preparation is really good as well as Brandon (McIlwain) and the rest of our group.”

On his goals for 1st down play distribution and if the team has been successful so far…
“I think to be efficient offensively, we want to be playing in 2nd-and-6 or less. You don’t want to be 2nd-and-7 plus. Same thing defensively: you’re always looking at 1st down efficiency. Offensively, we’d like to be balanced and be down the middle 50-50 based on the run and pass. I don’t know off the top of my head what our exact numbers are. To me, it’s always about balance in what you’re doing.

“To me, in a game, I am always looking for 1st down shots downfield, because that’s where most defenses are going to create the run box, and generally that’s where you’re going to get your 50-50 opportunities downfield. So that’s one of the very few things I say on game day on offense. ‘Let’s take a shot here. Let’s stretch the field.’”

On the progress of running back David Williams…
“I thought David played well Saturday. He did some nice things and has continued to improve his practice habits and understand that it’s a daily process, going about your business. Hustle is a habit. Running thorough contact is a habit. It’s just something you form and do all the time. You can’t snap your fingers on game day and all of a sudden you’re first. I think there’s been a lot of examples on our team of guys who have continued to stay the course and have worked extremely hard and have played extremely well on game day.”

On the important of offensive balance…
“You’ve always got to stay balanced, especially with a guy like (Tennessee linebacker Derek) Barnett. He can change the game. We’ve got to account for him in everything. When you stay balanced, it’s very difficult on a defense, because you’re sitting there thinking in your mind ‘okay, do I want to run a pass pressure or run an overload? If they run it the other way, we’ve got a problem.’ So that’s why, to me, it’s so important to be balanced in what you do.”

On the reasons he discussed Carolina’s last few games against Tennessee…
“I think it’s always important, especially in our league, the tradition we have in our league. Some of our yearly opponents, especially our Eastern opponents – I was stressing to our guys how important it is to win the Eastern division games. I just went back in my mind, knowing our league very well, I go through the rolodex in my mind, thinking through games and remembering how close these games have been contested. I looked it up and saw that (the margin is) 11 points in four years. What’s going to make a difference from our last three games is our preparation, and that’s the motivatation for our guys today. How you practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, and your mental preparation and physical preparation for the game make a difference. Those 11 points are going a different way for us. That’s really why I brought it up as much as anything, to say ‘hey, a play or two here or there and that’s a different ball game and we feel a little different about the situation.’ The bottom line is that Tennessee has won the last three years, and we’ve got to do something to change it.”

On Tennessee’s injuries and if that leads to unknowns in game planning…
“They have been really hit hard by injuries, and it has certainly affected them, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But again, you watch the tape, and if a guy is up, he’s up. We prepare for all personnel matters as far as the guys we feel like can change the game. Again, we will prepare more schematically for our players, and then as coaches, in our minds, if there’s a personnel issue, we’ll discuss it on game day.”

On the plans to slow Tennessee’s rushing attack down…
“They’re very effective running, and (John Kelly), the young tailback, has come in and done a nice job as well. I don’t think ‘well, they’re not going to run in based on our run defense.’ I think we’ll see some runs. Again, (it’s about) continuing to play blocks, understand formations and understand run fits, keeping your head in the gap and all of the basic, fundamental things that we try to talk about with our guys in the run game. I do think we’ve made some strides. Certainly we will have a great test here Saturday night.”

On the decision to play ‘Rocky Top’ at practice…
“Sometimes you get tired of listening to it, and you don’t want to listen to it on game day, so I told our guys ‘play good and you won’t have to listen to it.’ (laughs) They’re still going to play it though.”

On Tennessee’s blitz packages and how they match up with what the Gamecocks saw from UMass last week…
“Bob (Shoop) will overload you in some situations. He is a little more sound, very similar schematically to us a little bit as far as his approach to mixing pressure and playing coverage and conventional fronts. He does a nice job with the movements up front to create some issues for the run and the pass, game but they are a little more conventional.”

On the concerns about playing Jake Bentley against an SEC team…
“Regardless of the situation, we have a lot of confidence in Jake and anybody we put on the field regardless of who they are and position concerned. Tennessee has a good football team. We’ve got to give those guys credit. They have a dominating player in my opinion in (Derek) Barnett. I think he’s the guy that can change games, and we need to account for him. They’ve recruited extremely well, and they’ve got good football players. It’s a typical SEC game; we’ve got to go play well, approach well and prepare the right way, which I was pleased with in this morning’s practice.”



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