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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Nov. 15, 2016

Game Information

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2016

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series: South Carolina leads 4-0, but the schools have not met since 1989.

TV: SEC Network Alternate (Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks)

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 145/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 Win, 24-21
11/5 Missouri Win, 31-21
11/12 at Florida Loss, 7-20
11/19 Western Carolina 4 p.m. (SECN Alt.)
11/26 at Clemson TBA

Opening Statement
"We’ve got here at Williams-Brice Stadium. It’s Senior Day; we’ve got 20 guys that we’ll recognize before the game. We really appreciate how they’ve built the foundation of our program and how much buy-in they’ve had regardless of how their year has gone personally. As far as the team concept has gone, I really appreciate them.

“Mark Speir, the head coach at Western Carolina, is a really good friend of mine. He’s a good coach and does a good job. Brad Glenn, their offensive coordinator, does a really good job of tempo and (run-pass options) and stresses the defense vertically and horizontally. (They’ve got a) tempo game very similar to Missouri as far as snapping the ball quickly, so we’ve got to be gelled up as far as defensively, getting our eyes in the right spots and getting our cleats in the dirt, ready to play. Two of my former players are on their coaching staff: Blake Gideon, who played at Texas, and Zac Etheridge, who played for me at Auburn. (They’re) two of my favorite guys that I’ve ever coached.

“Injury-wise, Chris Moody practiced today a little bit, but he was sore. He has a bone bruise on his knee. We’ll continue to work him through the week and see what he can do as far as contributing. A.J. Turner worked out with our strength staff today and moved around a good bit. We tried to put him under some duress today. We’ll see how he comes back tomorrow, with soreness. Obeviously both of those guys are questionable to doubtful for this weekend. Donnell Stanley did practice, but again, just (had a) lot of soreness in the ankle for the next day, so we’ll see how he looks tomorrow and try to get him back in the lineup.

“There are a lot of good things going on (on the) campus. Men’s and women’s soccer are hosting NCAA’s here on Thursday. The women are in the second round and the men are in the first round. Both basketball teams are playing really well.”

On playing FCS teams…
“I think it’s a great opportunity. I’ve spent as much time at the office as normal so there’s no difference to me.”

On the fact that this team is bowl eligible…
“Well it says a lot about our players and the type of character we have in the locker room. It says a lot about our staff doing an outstanding job. I would say those are the two areas that we focus on, what a great job our staff and players have done coming together. Especially when you’re sitting at 2-4 coming out of the open week; that certainly wasn’t a prime spot to be in. Guys continue to invest, and that’s what we asked them to do. I credit the senior class for building the foundation; there is going to be a lot of fun moving forward and I really credit the senior class.”

On the ideal number of contributors offensively…
“I would say you go into every season saying ‘okay, at this position, who do we feel good about winning an SEC East Championship with? Who can win some of the games that we are going to need to win?’ And to be honest, is this guy really going to help us? I don’t think we can put a number on it. I would probably say upwards of eight defensive linemen because of injuries and different things that have happened. You can probably slide with seven if you don’t get any injuries, but I’m talking about guys you know you can win with. You need to have three (running) backs, in my opinion to play to be able to be guys you can win with. You always have to have depth in the quarterback position, because if you get one guy hurt at that position it can affect your entire season. Where we are now offensively, we need at least four tight ends we can count on to go play winning football, and I would say five receivers. I would just say guys you know you can count on that can go in to a game and function at a high level and be successful.”

On the chances of redshirting Donnell Stanley and if they are exploring that option…
“It is. We want to get through these games and prepare him to play in the games. I’m not going to put a guy out there that can’t be successful. He’s had a hard time pushing off his foot. He’s had a lot of pain last week in the ankle, so that is a discussion that we have had. We are going to go into it with an open mind of (him) playing if he can help us.”

On if the team plans to honor any juniors who may graduate early on Saturday…
“No, they are all seniors. (There are) guys that are all graduating this term, but they are all guys that are up in eligibility.”

On if senior day is a distraction for the guys…
“I guess every year it just depends on how you approach it, and I think that our guys will handle it the right way. We’ve got a mature group as far as those guys are concerned. I really appreciate how they’ve handled some ups and downs through the season and how they’ve handled our offseason. I expect them to handle this well as well. We’ve talked about it quite a bit as far as understanding the moment and that sort of thing, so I think they will handle it well.”

On this senior class and how it compares to other senior groups he has coached, and also if he plans to go out of his way to play seniors…
“We want to win the game; that’s the bottom line so we will do what it takes to win. They have been great; anytime you go through a transition, having been through this before, at times you feel a little push back. ‘This isn’t how we’ve always done it.’ That kind of mentality, and we didn’t have a lot of that. A lot of these guys were very open to change. I always say change is inevitable but life growth is optional and these guys have decided to grow with us. Perry Orth is about the greatest example of guys (where) maybe their senior year didn’t know exactly how they wanted to do or how they planned for it to go, but there hasn’t been any (divisiveness) in the locker room and things that didn’t want to be a part of what we are trying to do. It is very positive and very supportive, and that’s credited to the type of men we have in the locker room too. I’m just very appreciative of these guys.”

On the difference between playing on the road or at home:
“Well for whatever reason, we have a little more juice and a little more energy a little more pep to our step, (and) a little more focus. We need to have it again Saturday. I know our fans will be ready to go. But it’s not a good thing for our guys; we need to play consistently well all the time, but I have noticed a difference.”

On defensive line coach Lance Thompson getting the most out of his unit…
“I think Lance has done a really good job. I think, fundamentally, (with) hand placement (and) pad level, there’s been a drastic improvement in a lot of guys, just basic fundamentals of football and how we teach upfront. Whether it’s from a two-gap technique to a one-gap technique to a movement. That attention to detail, he does a really good job with that and conveying the message for the player. If you look from day one of spring ball to now is night and day from where we were and we still have miles to travel. But I think he’s done a really nice job.”

On the status of Jamari Smith…
“Jamari is fine. We’ve talked, and he’s totally committed to our football team. but we will discuss that when the year is over.”

On the importance of running the ball when the weather gets colder…
“I think you do what you’ve got to do to win games. Obviously, if you’re in a situation where you’re in a mud bowl, you probably need have someone to be able to run the ball. I do think that when it’s just lightly wet, the advantage for the offense is to throw the ball from the standpoint of they know where they’re going and defense is reacting off cuts to receivers and that’s very difficult as a defensive coach and player. I think you can do what you do.”

On the special teams’ performance…
“I think overall speed, we will continue to improve that. At the end of the day, we out-punted the coverage several times, which to a guy like (Florida returner Antonio) Callaway creates an issue. When he’s got 20 yards before our first cover guy. We didn’t front the ball up as far as making the ball run east and west. That is something that is base fundamental for any coverage unit that you’ve got to be able to do. You can’t let the return knife the coverage. There were some fundamental things that were issues but when you out-punt the coverage it’s an issue for us. From a speed standpoint we have a hard time making that up.”

On how Brandon McIlwain has handled the last few games…
“He’s been awesome. He’s approached practice the way you’re supposed to. We had a one-minute drill that we let him have and he did a fantastic job. He took our offense all the way down the field against our first team defense. He continues to get more reps and the more reps he gets the more he’s going to improve and get better just like the rest of our freshmen and he’s done a fantastic job.”

On what quarterback Jake Bentley can learn following the game against Florida…
“Any time you can get reps in an environment like that, it’s going to help you. Jake did some really good things Saturday. When you get that experience under the belt, the game continues to slow down for you and you will continue to play well.”

On being able to develop an effective offensive strategy…
“You get into a fine line as a coach – are we doing enough to keep the defense off balance? Are we doing too much where are players can’t handle it? That’s a fine line, and we have that discussion a lot as an offensive staff. That’s where we were offensively early in the year. We were trying to have an answer for everything instead of saying this is what we are. We have made tremendous improvements, and some of that is from getting guys back from injury. We are continuing to understand and find an identity of what we want to be. The main thing is to be balanced. You need to do enough to give the opposition some issues.”

On the status of injured wide receiver Randrecous Davis…
“More than likely we will apply for a medical redshirt for him.”

On the news of Marcus Lattimore being named the football coach at Holland Hall…
“I texted Marcus yesterday to congratulate him. He’ll do a fantastic job. At the end of the day, the guy has the ability to relate to people. That’s really the number one job as a coach – to be a communicator and positively affect people around you. He’s a great leader because of that. Whatever he does in his life, he’s going to be a tremendous leader. He’s an unbelievable person, and he will do a fantastic job. He’s a guy that will continue to climb in the coaching profession because of the type of person he is. He is very intelligent, and he has all the stuff you want.”

On what he looks in a long snapper…
“We have a kicking camp every summer. We won’t take a guy unless they come to our camp. Coleman Hutzler does a really good job evaluating guys who can get the ball back in a timely manner. We’d like to have a guy who has come coverage ability. Those are things we look at. It’s hard to judge off film – you have to eye ball it. During the evaluation, you like to see a guy who you’d be able to work with in camp. I would not take a guy unless I saw him do it live.

On how willing quarterback Perry Orth has been accepting the backup role…
“I always sit down players, and you have to make tough calls. I always say that I’m not asking you to agree with this. We can disagree on it, but positively support the decision. That’s what he’s done 1000 percent. It’s a credit to him and how he is as a person. I don’t want anybody to be happy about not playing. Understand your role in the organization, and try to change it into a positive manner if you can. That’s how he’s been, and that’s what a good teammate does.” On the experience of going back to Florida for a game and if anything caught him off-guard…
“I wanted to win. It was great to see those guys, the guys that you recruited. I spent time with those guys, and a bunch of the families came to the bus afterwards. I wish I had been smiling more and they wouldn’t have been as happy, but that’s part of it. It was great to see those kids and their families. (There were) a lot of parents, and that says a lot about the culture that we created there. It does.”

On what has ben done in practice to ensure quarterback Jake Bentley gets the ball out quicker…
“I think more than anything, as a quarterback, your mental clock has got to go off. (You’ve got to) understand when the pressure is coming, and he’s got very good pocket presence. He understands that. He’s being extra careful with the ball, and that’s a good thing. You can’t over-coach it, either. He’s done a really good job considering the circumstances and situation. I’m really proud of where he is.”

On the goal of becoming bowl-eligible and how important that is for him…
“I think it’s always important with any team, but especially with a young team, to have opportunities to have extra practices. Football is a developmental game. It’s not like basketball, where you can pick up and go one-on-one in the backyard and improve. That’s just not the way football is. You can’t go sit in the batting cage and take bating practice on your own. That’s just not the way football is. Football is a game (where) you’ve got to go play the game. We need to be able to have these practices to help continue to develop the youth of our roster. As far as priorities are concerned, I approach every game trying to win the game. So I’m disappointed with where our record is now, but looking forward to another opportunity on Saturday.”

On his preferences for scheduling non-conference games…
“Because of the way they schedule so far out now, it’s kind of out of your hands as a coach. Charles Waddell and Coach (Ray) Tanner do our scheduling, and it’s not a fun job, especially with the SEC toying with the nine-game schedule up until the 29th hour a year ago or two years ago. You’re holding your schedule, because you can’t schedule, because you don’t know if you’re going to nine games. You don’t want to sign a contract with somebody, and then you’ve got to pay the contract off, and you don’t even play the game with them. It’s a very hard thing to do, especially with the money going up and up and up as far as the payoff to come to Williams-Brice to play. I’m good with whatever. I do like the fact that you’re leading off with Vanderbilt this year. For us, that was great. I think the preparation from your football team is much better in the summer when they know they’re going to be playing a quality opponent coming out of the gate. But again; you’ve got 12 opportunities, and you’ve got to cherish each one.

On what the film on Western Carolina has shown him that the defense needs to prepare for…
“Again, watching the Missouri tape, there were some issues there in the run game, and some issues as far as the (run-pass options) were concerned. Those are things we’ve got to continue to short up. (We need to) become a better space team as far as playing defense and tackling in space and those sorts of things are concerned. There’s no question we have a lot of things to work on defensively. We have a laundry list of them. We’ll continue to go after them every day.”

On the improvements he would like to see from Jake Bentley after suffering his first loss as a college starter…
“I think as much as anything, just be technical. Whether it’s a win or a loss. It’s always the same approach to me. These are the things we did well in the game, which he did some things very well, and these are some things we can improve on. That’s certainly our approach, whether we win or we lose. I don’t know that the result of the game changes our demeanor as far as how we approach our players as far as corrections are concerned. There are always corrections. There is no perfect player. There is no perfect coach. There are always things you can look back on as a coach and say ‘you know what, we really could have done a better job of preparing for this.’ Being critical of your evaluation of yourself is the most important thing. Jake is going to be harder on himself than any coach on our staff is going to be on him. That’s a good thing. Those are things to me that you just continue to coach through.”



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