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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Nov. 1, 2016

Game Information

Date: Saturday, November 5, 2016

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series: Missouri has won 4 of the 6 meetings between the two schools that list Columbia as their homes.

TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Andre Ware, Cole Cubelic)

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 113/XM 191

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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 Loss, 14-28
10/22 UMass Win, 34-28
10/29 Tennessee Win, 24-21
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 Missouri here at 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon on the SEC Network. Barry Odom, their head coach, is a former defensive coordinator. He did a fantastic job with their defense. He's a really good football coach, and he's take over the defensive play calling, which creates a little bit of angst for us. Are they continuing to stay with what they're doing, or are they changing what they're doing? Those are things you've got to do as a coach as vet as far as the film when he called the game, and there's always a little difference, depending on who's calling the game.

"They've had a lot of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. It certainly has set them back, but they've got some really talented players. Charles Harris is as good of a pass rusher as there is in our league, and Aarion Penton is a guy who is as good of a cover guy as there is in our league. They've played really good defense at Missouri, and certainly will play well Saturday.

"Josh Heupel is their offensive coordinator. Josh was at Oklahoma. I've got a lot of respect for him and what they're doing. They're playing really fast. They're playing with a great tempo. On average, they're taking a snap, on the 40-second clock, with the clock between 25 and 30 seconds. That's about 10 seconds between each snap. We haven't exactly been the most mentally in-tune, focused defense at times, so we've really got to be dialed in to what we need to do to be successful on game day.

"I think they're a really tyalented offense. (Quarterback) Drew Lock is a guy who can make all the throws. You watch some of the vertical balls he throws down the field. He's go tremendous arm strength. They have really good skill guys outside that run extremely well. We're going to need to cover down. There's going to be probably 10-12 shots downfield in the game. We're going to need to cover those shots and stay on top of the receivers down the field.

"They have really good specialists and returners. We've got to cover better on kickoff and punt coverage. We're lacking a little team speed, and where that starts to hurt you the most is on special teams. We don't have enough team speed right now. We've got to continue to recruit to that.

"Missouri is a lot like us. They're really young. I think they've had 24 first-time starters. We've had 19. We start more true freshmen that anybody in the country at seven. But they've got a young team, and they've been through some injuries on the defensive side of the ball.

"It's the last SEC home game for our seniors. This morning, I had a senior meeting and talked to those guys about their time here, and when I said that to them, a couple of them looked up at me like they didn't realize this was their last SEC home game. Time flies, and we certainly appreciate all of their contributions moving forward.

"I do have some very sad and disappointing news. Robert Tucker, a freshman tight end for us, has had a couple of issues, a hereditary issue with his neck. He had some numbness in camp a couple of times. He had some reoccurring issues with his neck. We met with a spinal specialist yesterday and feel like he needs to shut down football in his life right now. He had a promising career as a football player, and he's a great person and a great young man. He will continue to stay at the University of South Carolina. He's going to get his education here. He and I are talking about how he's going to stay involved with the football program, whether that's helping me or helping (Director of Athletics Ray) Tanner. He wants to be an athletic director one day. We're going to take care of Robert. I'm really sad for him, as good of a young man as we've got in our program. But I'm certainly glad our medical staff was able to catch this before it became more of an issue."

On the contributions from running back Rico Dowdle after he came back from a preseason injury...
"We felt very comfortable that he was going to be a very good player. I think you don't ever know until you actually get between the white lines and play on game day. You just never know how quickly the maturation process takes place and when they're ready to go and those sorts of things. There's no doubt that we felt like he was going to be a really good football player."

On quarterback Jake Bentley and if his performance has surprised him...
"I haven't been really been surprised because I think that he prepares himself, and he works extremely hard. I think work ethic is a talent in life, and he has a very strong work ethic and approach. Obviously, God has blessed him with some ability, and he's got a great competitive edge about himself. He's got a great demeanor to be a quarterback. I think through each position, you see things that you say `that's what we're looking for, that's the attributes you're looking for at the position' and he certainly has those. He certainly has those qualities, but you don't ever know until game day. Until you get out there and you've got to play the game and you have got to play when it counts. Certainly seeing him in his first start and then coming in and playing pretty consistently into his second start against a very good defense, you certainly feel good about the future."

On the leap of faith it takes to start many freshmen...
"It is what it is, and again, I would rather play a young talented guy that's got a promising future and can make some plays and is going to contribute to the program who's got a bright future, rather than playing an older guy that's not as talented. At the end of the day, that's what its about and that's where we are right now. It says a lot about the evaluation that took place in a transition year, which is always the hardest year in recruiting - when you're transitioning. You're hiring a staff; you're recruiting, you're evaluating and you're going through that process. There are some times that you do take that leap of faith as far as the evaluation process. Maybe you don't know as much about the student-athlete as you would have if you've been there for a year or two, but I think our staff did a fantastic job of evaluating players and the type of young people that are in our program"

On the recruitment of Rico Dowdle...
"(Offensive line coach) Shawn Elliot had been recruiting Rico previous to our time here. When I first took the job, we spent a lot of time in the film room going through a lot of guys, and he was a guy that played quarterback in high school in Asheville. (He's) a guy that you saw the athleticism and all the explosiveness and change in direction. In high school, you want to put your best athlete put the ball in his hands in every snap, and that's what they did. You saw all those things that excite you; you don't really know about the competitive edge until you continue to recruit the young man and the people around him. He came from a great high school program and certainly is a guy that I'm glad we got."

On what he expects from Missouri's defensive play calling...
"We kind of piece some things together and I think the biggest thing as the coaches is to be prepared for whatever you think they may see. You can't hold self-change things in the middle of the season; that's very hard to do. In the concepts they already have within their defense, it's obvious there are things he likes to see and call and how they may attack us by looking like some like opponents from previous years."

On the attitude of the team coming off a big win...
"I challenged our football team this morning about complacency, and we certainly don't have any room for it. We don't have any margin of error around here right now, so I really challenged our guys about the preparation it takes to be successful week in and week out. The consistency in your performance week in and week out the approach week in and out that we need to have to be successful. I think they understand that. I thought we had a very good effort at practice this morning. I thought we had a good physical practice. I think our mental focus was off in some spots. Every Tuesday, you're installing some new things so generally sometimes there are some new thinking going on than there is reacting and we will reduce that back again tomorrow and Thursday and be ready to go for Saturday."

On the contributions of Dante Sawyer to the defensive line...
"Well Dante missed spring with a shoulder surgery he had in the offseason. I don't ever put expectations on a player I haven't seen perform I know he's played and he's been a good player. I knew they recruited Dante out of high school so I knew who Dante was. He's been a guy that when you miss that much time with a shoulder you miss a lot of lifting opportunities that sets you back as far as the strength. He's a guy that has continued to improve throughout the year because he's also been able to gain strength in endurance in his body as the year he's continued to move forward. That's why I think he's playing his best football right now as opposed to earlier in the year when his strength wasn't where it needed to be because of the surgery because you still have to be careful in a shoulder situation to not overwork it as far as the rehab is concerned."

On the special teams corrections they are hoping to make...
"I think team speed is an issue, so we are asking them to run faster. (laughs) I think the ball placement has been good by Elliot (Fry). Our hanging time and our numbers have been good. We've got to do a better job of what we call the fly zone and avoiding the fly zone lockers. We are getting locked on to blocks too long, and we aren't getting off blocks in those situations and then being able to disengage better down the field in kickoff coverage. A lot of that has to do with speed in the fly zone; we have to be able to beat blockers in what we call the fly zone area. The flying forty, so when they catch the kickoff, we would like for our guys to be at the 30-yard line and so when you stop the tape and they catch the kick, if they have the correct ball placement and hang time that's where we want our guys to be. Some of our guys are at the 36- or 38-yard line so you're talking about another distance of ten yards almost where they've got time to get set up and get the wedge and all the things set that they need to get set. That's an issue for us. Hopefully, the punt return stuff, we will be moving forward with that better as far as fielding the punt. We've really been pretty good with our punt coverage for the most part; one got out the other night, and part of the reason was because of a hold situation coming out there off the goal line. Sean (Kelly) has been pretty accurate as far as the kicks. Kick-off return - we had a big one there against East Carolina early in the year and we have really lacked getting past that and getting some things going. There's no question we get a lot of time on special teams. We meet as a team everyday at least 25-30 minutes to go over all the phases we are installing for that day. We spend a lot of time on it and we spend a lot of drill work on it. We need to improve on it, but the biggest issue we have right now is just team speed, we've got to get faster."

On redshirting Skai Moore...
"Correct. Skai was cleared yesterday to lift. He's been doing some light lifting and some light running, but he was cleared yesterday to go in the weight room and do any exercise he wants to do. Any of the running and change of direction; that's it, no contact and that clearance will not come until January so that's where we are right now."

On the strength of Rico Dowdle running the ball...
"Certain guys have the ability to do that. Certain guys are strong enough to do it, but don't necessarily do it. Some guys have a certain balance and body control like he does. Some guys have more girth than others. It doesn't necessarily have to do with size or speed or girth. It has to do with certain guys have the talent and ability to do it and some maybe not so much."

On the leadership from the senior class...
"Well, the greatest example on our football team is Perry Orth. I'm sitting there at 7-on-7 today and Jake (Bentley) makes a decision -- before (offensive coordinator) Kurt Roper says anything, Perry walks over and says, `What did you see here?' What a great example for our entire organization. A guy that's a senior, a fifth year senior and has contributed an awful lot to our program but continues in his way to contribute to our improvement. We have roles within the organization whether it's a football program, it's a business, it doesn't really matter. If you don't like your role, then be more productive to do something about it if you can. Understand your role and the role you're in to do the best job you can do with the role you have. Right now, I use the example of Perry Orth because the guy has been instrumental in the development of Brandon (McIlwain) and Jake (Bentley) and continue to be in the meetings. You hear Kurt Roper talk about how he helps those guys when they come off the sideline. All of those things to me says a lot about him as a young man, but it also sets a great example for the rest our football team."

On the confidence he has in Elliott Fry kicking...
"Well, I have a huge confidence level with Elliot (Fry)."

On the confidence he would lack if Elliott Fry was not so consistent...
"Oh absolutely. To have confidence in a guy like Elliot - he's a guy that I've got a lot of confidence in. I go in pregame and I ask Elliot, `Where do you feel good from?' He says, `Well, going to the tunnel, I feel good at the 35. Going this way I feel good from the 38.' So right then I don't even worry about it anymore. There's no discussion any more on the headsets. That's where we are. I tell Kurt this is where we've got to get to get in field goal range. I'll tell you if you get two downs, whatever the case may be. It's a luxury that you don't always have. I've been in that other situation where you're worried about whether or not you can get it through the uprights for an extra point."

On Jake Bentley's scrambling ability...
"Jake's a much better athlete than people will give him credit for. I think as much as anything it's not necessarily athletic ability, it's more pocket presence and having the innate ability to feel a rush, to feel pressure, to feel where it's open to be able to scramble to move yourself in the pocket. Some guys have a very strong feel for that. They keep their eyes down field to not stare at the rush, to move in the pocket the way you're supposed to move in the pocked and understand the distribution of a four-man rush, a five-man rush, where you are protected and where you're not protected. Again, a lot of that goes back into preparation. A lot to me goes into innate ability to have a pocket presence."

On Hayden Hurst's blocking contributions...
"We are asking him to do things he has never done before. As far as angles, as far as protections, as far as run blocks, as far as tracking the mike (linebacker)... there are so many things that are so foreign to him. But since he is such a good athlete, he is able to adjust and be able to handle those things and do very well at those things. We need to get the ball to him more. I've said that now. We had some things dialed up the other night; we had two shots drew up for him and didn't get the ball there. He's a guy we've got to continue to evolve in our offense, because he did a fantastic job the other night and (that is) the reason why he is one of the players of the game. When we progressed in the game and we were getting so much pressure, we went to some more six-man protection, seven-man protection, and he was involved in all of that. That wasn't something we practiced a whole lot for the simple reason that we hadn't seen some of the stuff we were seeing. So we had to change in the game and make some adjustments and he did a fantastic job in the game for doing some of the things we asked him to do."

On managing the running back rotation...
"Well, competition is my best motivator. So guys that go practice the right way and go in the meetings the right way and lift weights the right way and handle themselves the right way; those are the guys that play. The guy that's got the hot hand is the guy that's going to play. They are all going to get their opportunities and touches early, and we are going to go with the guy that we think is getting the best yards and hitting the holes in the inside zone scheme and pounding that thing up in there. Those are all things that we're evaluating everyday, and those guys are all competing. That helps us as a program."

On if he can remember times as a coach when he team was complacent...
"I don't think that's more team-oriented than it is individuals. Sometimes (certain guys) lose lack of focus and it looks bad for the entire organization. I think when you're talking, it's really reaching the guys in the room. It can take just three or four guys who are mentally dialed in to what we are trying to do and all of a sudden, it looks really poor for our organization. To say that they weren't ready to play, that's kind of a blanket statement I don't believe in that. I believe there may have been some individuals that weren't ready to play and that made everyone look bad. That's kind of the way I look at those situations. I don't think that a team wasn't ready to play. I think that there were maybe parts of that team that weren't ready to go and that affected that entire organization."

On whether or not he plans to address Carolina's losing streak in the Mizzou series with the team...
"I haven't to this point, but I think that every week is a little different. When you're talking to your team and the thing I try to do is not give them too much because eventually they tune you out. The things that I think are very important I thought the last four games were decided by 11 points that was pretty alarming to me when I saw that. I felt like it was a team we matched up well with and I felt like that going into the fourth quarter and my message for our team was to finish. No different than this week this game will be a fourth quarter game and we are going to need to go finish the game and continue to build confidence and belief in those things and we do in the critical moments of the game."

On what it take for a team to handle success properly...
"I think as a team, you've got to form some consistency before you can talk about being a consistent football team and that's what I harp on all the time with our players - our consistency and performance. It starts with practice and how you prepare, and it starts with film work all of the things you put in off the field to be a successful football player which helps us be a successful football team. I just think again, we can't talk about consistency unless you've done it and we certainly haven't done it."

On the status of Chris Lammons for Saturday's game...
"I haven't heard anything from the league and based on previous situations before, he's cleared to start the game unless I'm told differently."

On the status of offensive lineman Donnell Stanley...
"He looked better today than he did any day last week. Sometimes when you come off an ankle like he did, which was a severe ankle injury, sometimes like last week, we feel like he weakened it as the week went on. He got in a couple more reps today than he did at any point last week, so we will continue to monitor. We want him to get back out there because he's a good football player for us. We aren't going to put a player out there that's not healthy and risk further injury. We're not going to do that."

On winning in front of recruits...
"Well, the environment we have in our home stadium, especially for a night game, is tremendous in recruiting. To see the positive support that our fans give us helps us tremendously in recruiting. I think you always got to have promise in what you're trying to do to sell to a young man and his family. To see the product on the field benefitting and most prospects talk to players on the team, so they are going to find out if you're a good coach and if you really care about them off the field. All the things a young man would ask another young man about his school, about the academic support, about all the things that are important to a student-athlete when he's choosing a school. You've got to be able to see some progress as far as that's concerned so there's no doubt it helps."

On thee status of defensive back Antoine Wilder...
"He banged his shoulder up. He practiced today and had some contact today. He had a hard time getting some motion back in his shoulder, but we think he should be fine for Saturday."



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