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Will Muschamp Press Conference Video/Quotes + Player Availability
Nov. 22, 2016


Game Information

Date: Saturday, November 26, 2016

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: Clemson, S.C.

Stadium: Memorial Stadium (81,500)

Series: Clemson leads 67-42-4; South Carolina has won 5 of the last 7 meetings

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)

Radio: Flagship - 107.5 FM "The Game" & the Gamecock IMG Sports Network, Sirius 134/XM 201

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Recent Headlines
Gamecock Football to be Featured at Halftime of Saturday's Hoops Game 2017 South Carolina Football Superlatives Krantz Named Tenth Assistant Coach; Lattimore Joins Staff in Off-Field Role King Accepts Invitation to Senior Bowl Dylan Thompson Moves from the Gridiron to the Hardwood
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 Win, 44-31
11/26 at Clemson 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Opening Statement
“(Against Western Carolina) offensively, we did what we were supposed to do. We played well in the game and had 16 explosive plays. We turned the ball over one time. The player of the game was Rico Dowdle; he had eight (explosive plays) in the game. Mason Zandi played really well up front, on our offensive line. In the first half, we converted third downs. That was the difference between the first and second half.

“Defensively, I was disappointed with the tackling as much as anything. On third down, in the first half, their ability to stay on the field with the quarterback’s legs hurt us in the scramble game as much as anything. There are some things we’ve got to continue to straighten out. Darius English played well and was the player of the game, and the ball hawks were D.J. Smith, Jonathan Walton and Antoine Wilder. We got three turnovers, including two fourth-down stops, which is a change of possession. Those are critical plays in the game.

“The special teams player of the game was Deebo Samuel. It was well-blocked on the kickoff return. It was good to see him. As many times as we can get the ball into his hands is good for us.

“Clemson is a very good football team, very deserving of their rank, wherever they are in the rankings. They’ve got a bunch of good players. They have a great staff. They do a really good job offensively. Tony Elliott does a fantastic job. They’re averaging 40-something points and 500 yards a game. They’re extremely talented.

“Deshaun Watson is a fantastic football player. I can’t add any adjectives to his name as far as what he’s accomplished and what he’s done. He can hurt you in a lot of ways. He’s very smart. He understands their scheme and system and does an outstanding job. He’s a really good football player.

“There are a lot of talented guys around him: Mike Williams, (Artavis Scott), Ray-Ray (McCloud) and Deon Cain and Hunter Renfroe. They’re really talented guys that are very explosive offensively. Wayne Gallman is the guy I really like as far as tough hard-nosed runner. (He’s) a tough, one-cut runner who gets the ball north and south. He runs behind his pads and runs through contact and competes. Jordan Leggett, the tight end, is a matchup issue you’ve always got to account for. But (they’re) very explosive offensively.

“Defensively, Brent Venables does a really nice job. They’re very multiple up front. They can give you a lot of issues in the run and pass games as far as protection. They’ve got some really good football players in (Ben) Boulware and Kendall Joseph, 34. He’s really caught my eye watching the tape as a guy who’s playing extremely well for them in my opinion. They’re very talented on the back end. Dexter Lawrence up front is a true freshman playing well. Christian Wilkins is a very good player. They’re talented across the board in the front seven.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us. They’ve got a really good football team. We had a good practice this morning, and we’ve got to continue to prepare really well to face a good team in Clemson on Saturday night.”

On his knowledge of the Carolina-Clemson rivalry and how it compares to other places…
“I don’t know if the other spots will help you at all, other then being here your first day and walking by people talking about beating Clemson. You hear that very quickly, and you understand the importance of the game. We’ve talked about winning our state all the time - whether it’s recruiting or on the field, whatever we need to do. The competition between the two schools is very healthy.”

On his relationship with Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney…
“I first met him when I was at Auburn and we played Clemson in the Peach Bowl. I have a lot of respect for Dabo. He’s done a good job, and they have some really good players and staff. Schematically, they give you a lot of issues, and their guys play well and have won a bunch of games. I’ve got a lot of respect for the job he does.”

On the magnitude of Saturday’s game and if he has addressed that with the team so far…
“Not much. It’s early in the week, and we haven’t really hit on those things. It’s always important when you talk about rivalry games for our guys to understand the history of the rivalry and history of the game – especially if they’re young players.”

On the importance of limiting the running of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson…
“I don’t know if you’re going to stop a guy like him. You have to limit him, and that’s exactly the word we’ve used. Where he gives you the most issues is the off-rhythm plays and his creativity. It’s very hard to finish on him in the pocket because he’s a bigger target who is a hard guy to get down. He’s a strong guy, and he also runs extremely well. All of the things you want in your quarterback he possesses. Number one is his leadership ability and his ability to positively affect the guys around him.”

On how Clemson’s defense compares to what Carolina faced against Florida…
“Yes, athletically you see the front seven, and they have an attacking style under Brent Venables. It’s a very vertical penetration, and our guys have to be very gap sound as far as those things are concerned. He lets his front guys play, and you look at the top defensive coaches across the board they cut those guys loose.”

On his perception of the Carolina-Clemson rivalry prior to coming here…
“This is always a game you pay attention to being in the Southeast. It’s one of the great rivalries in the Southeast. I didn’t really have a side of it either way, but you always enjoy Thanksgiving games and the rivalries involving all the different schools.”

On what he can do to help prepare guys for the environment they’ll face in Death Valley…
“Well, we addressed it today. Again, you don’t know until you get there. I talked to our guys just about our preparation, our focus in terms of winning downs, winning possessions. That’s going to help you win the game, a methodical approach in how we approach every game and making sure our guys understand it’s not going to take a flawless effort. It’s not going to take anything spectacular. We just need to go play well. We need to go play hard. We need to go play fast. We need to play physical. We need to go play with great effort. We need to play smart. We need to keep our composure in a rivalry game – all of things that you always constantly address with your guys in this type of game. That’s something we addressed this morning, and we’ll continue to address throughout the week.”

On the preparation for Jake Bentley prior to his second road game…
“Our preparation is the same all the time. Therefore to me, that gets you away from putting all your eggs in one basket and it doesn’t work out. At the end of the day, this is a very important game. Our preparation, my time at the office, as a staff, our players’ preparation should never change. It always ought to be the same. We don’t need to be motivated by the opponent we play. I understand this is a huge game, and it’s a big game for the University of South Carolina. Our guys understand that. I don’t need to remind them of that. His preparation will be the same it’s been the previous five weeks as far as that’s concerned to prepare to play well. We need to play well around him.”

On the team’s red zone mentality defensively…
“We spent a lot of time in the red zone in training camp to make sure that our guys understand how to play down there. What I mean by that is what you just said. It’s limited space, so from a secondary standpoint, it’s so frustrating to watch teams play and see DBs backing into the end zone. Guys catch the ball on the two-yard line and fall into the end zone for a touchdown. That’s just situational awareness of where you are on the field. You can’t just talk about it. You’ve got to really practice it. We spend a large majority of our Wednesday practice in the red zone defensively. Offensively, we do it on Tuesdays, because we like to look at some short yardage and goal line stuff before we get to Wednesday. On defense, we really work on that on Wednesdays. We spent a lot of time in training camp and a lot of time in spring practice of really honing in on the red zone because it’s so important on both sides of the ball to score touchdowns on offense and limit them to field goals on defense. We’ve gotten six turnovers down there as well. We’ve been really opportunistic down in the red zone. Our whole goal is to make them kick field goals. If we do that 60 percent of the time, that’s winning football. I do think it’s the familiarly (from taking) a lot of reps down there in practice. We understand playing down there. We identify each week what the offense does, so our players have a good (idea) tendency-wise what they do. I think our players of done a good job of carrying that from practice to the field. I do think obviously that it’s limited space, so there’s not many vertical balls down there because you are limited with your space in what you can do. Our guys have done a good job of understanding the situation.

On if the temperature affects the game at all…
“No. You get out there and get your blood flowing and you’ll be fine.”

On managing Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson’s big-play ability…
“I think the biggest thing is he’s going to create some plays with his legs. That’s going to happen in the game. You’ve got to limit those as much as you can. You’ve got to change it up coverage-wise. You’ve got to stay in coverage. You’re going to have to cover a guy twice in one down at times during the game, because he’s going to be able to extend plays. You’re covering really good skill guys, so that’s part of it. Just execute the defense – we don’t need to do anything superhuman. We just need to play. That’s where you get in a game like this and guys try to do too much. He tries to do a little too much and that’s when you make a mistake and it gives them a big play. That’s what we can’t allow to happen. Again, at the end of the day we understand that they’ve got some good players and they’re going to make some plays. We need to make ours.”

On reaching bowl eligibility last week and if that helps the team relax before the Clemson game…
“I don’t know that I ever want to worry about a goal or worry about an external event or ring or whatever. I want our guys worrying about playing well. What ends up happening is you get so focused on the things that don’t really have anything to do with you playing well in the game, and that’s why I said we don’t need to be motivated by our opponent. Are our guys going to be excited about playing the game? Absolutely because it’s a rivalry, because it’s Clemson because they’ve got a good football team. It’s going to be a great environment. That’s all great, but we need to be able to walk out between the white lines and be motivated by our preparation against a really good football team. That’s what I’m trying to preach as much as anything is to go away from ups and downs that you have and the peaks and valleys that you have because of who you’re lined up against. We don’t need to let that matter. It needs to be about South Carolina and our preparation. It’s important to play well because we’ve prepared well. The consistency of your performance is the key for what we’re looking for.”

On Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence and how he affects their defensive scheme…
“They do what they do. He is an explosive guy. He’s got really good lower-body flexibility. He can change direction. He is unusually strong for 17-, 18-years old, however (old) he is. He’s a really good football player. I recruited him at Auburn last year. I watched him work out. He has all of the physical attributes, and obviously, seeing him transfer very well as a freshman, he has the mental attributes you need to be successful as a football player. He’s a very good football player.”
 

 

 

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