Will Muschamp Outback Bowl Announcement News Conference Video/Quotes
Dec. 3, 2017
"We’re excited about going to Tampa and the Outback Bowl. It’s a great reward for our players, our University, our staff and administration and out fan base. I know our fan base will travel extremely well. We’re a very appealing team to a lot of people because of our fan base, because of how we travel, and selling tickets is obviously a huge part of it. I know our people will travel extremely well.
"It’s a great reward for our players, and a lot of hard work. Going down to Tampa for a week will be a great reward for them. (It’s) an opportunity to continue to show progress within our program. We’ve shown some tremendous progress. We’re an up-and-coming team. Seventy percent of our roster is freshmen and sophomores, so it’s an exciting time as a Gamecock.
"It’s an opportunity for another spring practice, in essence, to continue to develop that part of your football team, to continue to work through those sorts of things, which is really exciting, to be able to work with our guys and in essence have another spring. (It’s) an opportunity to be the seventh team in school history to win nine or more games. That’s a huge deal to our football team, and I knot that’s important to them, so (there is) a lot of good stuff going on.
"It’s been a little different in December, because the signing date of December 20 in a little accelerated, as far as, obviously, you’ve seen some of this coaching stuff, business going on. (We are) really looking forward to that day, another signing day in essence, and obviously the one in February as well. We’ve been on the road beating it up a little bit."
On the team’s injury situation
"Injury-wise, A.J. Turner, K.C. Crosby and Rico Dowdle should all be back for the bowl game. They should be ready to go. Terry Googer has not been cleared, and obviously Deebo (Samuel) and Bryson Allen-Williams will be out. That’s kind of where we are, roster wise. Our guys still have two weeks left of school before exams to go. We’re heading to the end there, academically."
On Michigan and if he’s had an opportunity to review film of them yet
"I have not. I just saw that they’re 8-4. They’ve lost to some really good football teams. We’ve got one common opponent in Florida. Obviously Florida went through a lot of changes before we played them. But I have not looked at (Michigan).
On the opportunity to have a second extended practice for his younger players
"I think as much as anything, football is a developmental game. You’ve got to take snaps, and it’s hard to do it one-on-one or two-on-two. You’ve got to be able to go out there and play the game. That will give us that opportunity. Probably the first three or four practices will be strictly our underclassmen, to continue to work and develop those guys. Again, you’ve got to take snaps to get better at this game. This offers us the opportunity to do that. It’s critical. I was at the University of Florida, and we had a guy named Loucheiz Purifoy, who had not started. He had been a huge special teams contributor the entire season, went in and had a great bowl practice and ended up starting the Gator Bowl for us as a corner, because of the bowl practice he had put together and how he’d gone about his business. Obviously he had played some in the year, but not in a starting role. So it’s an opportunity for these guys to take a huge step forward, and feel good about themselves going into the offseason and going into spring ball."
On the progress the team has made and the invitation to a New Year’s Day bowl
"I am very proud of our senior class. Really, our first class last year and this class, they weren’t a lot numbers-wise, but there were a lot of guys who bought into what we were doing and changed the culture moving forward. Sometimes, that’s hard to do. I appreciate their buy-in, which has been very strong. This has been a fun team to be around, as far as their preparation is concerned and how they’ve competed and played. It’s been exciting, so we need to continue to move forward and continue to get better. We still have a ways to go. We’ve certainly made some progress, and it’s easy to see. Certainly I see it as a coach, because I’m around it every day. I see it, and I know what it looks like. Certainly for your fan base to see the progress from three wins to where we are at this point is exciting."
On players who could see an increased role in the Outback Bowl
"Well, Keisean (Nixon) did a fantastic job when he got in our last ball game. Certainly, we need to be more physical on the perimeter. That’s been an issue since we’ve been here. He’s certainly going to get a lot more opportunities, there’s no doubt about that. Right now, I do feel like we’ve got a good mix up front defensively in how we’re rotating and playing the guys. We’re continuing to build our depth on the offensive line. Obviously, with Rico (Dowdle) coming back that creates more competition at that position, which is good for us. At the receiver position, I feel like we’ve had a lot of young guys play, and they’re doing a nice job. For (Randrecous) Davis to be able to have a spring ball or OrTre (Smith) to progress the way he has throughout the year and have another spring ball, in essence with this being bowl practice. Young players will be huge for us, we need some tight ends to step up. Sherrod Greene - this will be huge for him to go through the spring practice. Damani Staley, we’re excited about his future here. All those guys, again, they get an opportunity to step forward with the reps and the amount of turns they’re going to get."
On Kurt Roper's status with the football team
"He’s our offensive coordinator. I’m not going to get into speculation and 'sources said' or whatever. He’s our offensive coordinator, and that’s all I know. He’ll be our offensive coordinator for the bowl game."
On playing a bowl game in Florida, an important recruiting territory
"We, in previous stops, have recruited in the Tampa area really hard, and it’s been good for us. We’ll continue to do so. There’s no doubt about the high school football in that state. It’s always good to market your brand in areas that you want to be able to recruit and get some times down there. We know some folks that will be good to see the Gamecocks."
On who made improvements last season in the bowl practices
"I think JaMarcus King and Rashad Fenton both continue to come on. D.J. Smith in the latter part of the season last year did some nice things. T.J. Brunson was a guy last year that took off from his bowl practice, just off the top of my head. Kobe Smith did some nice things. I think up front, Zack Bailey did some things positively stepping forward. It was big for Jake (Bentley). Last year, he took steps from the season to how well he played in the bowl game. He made tremendous strides. That’s a positive there. All the young players, they just need turns and reps. They need as many at-bats as they can get to continue to improve and slow the process down for them."
On if Kurt Roper will call plays in the bowl game
"That’s the plan."
On if the mid-year players will take part in the bowl practices
"It’s interesting, because the way the day is set up, and there’s a dead period involved with that. It’s going to be more difficult to have guys be involved in bowl practice, because that is now a 48-hour dead period from the 20th through the 22nd. It’s going to be an issue as far as getting guys in to practice. We’re still working through that, and we have a lot of guys involved in all-star games, and if they’re playing in an all-star game, they can’t come to bowl practice. We’re working through that, and I don’t know if that’s going to be something moving forward with this early signing date to be able to get guys in like we have before."
On how big bowl practice was last year
"It’s just about turns and reps and getting guys opportunities, moving guys around and switching some things up positionally to see what guys can do at some different spots. When we’re in Columbia, we’ll get our game plan in and be complete before we go to Tampa, and we’ll certainly introduce our opponent to our football team, but it’s like spring ball. You’re not really getting ready for a game, so to speak. You’re going through a lot of fundamentals and techniques and learning more and more about players and seeing them develop."
On if the team will practice on the December 26 in Tampa
"I haven’t really got into the schedule and all that. Our guys are in exams through December 17, so we have to manage that here, when we start practice as far as when we break. We will be down there the 26th, but I haven’t got a full idea of what we’re going to be doing when we get down there yet.
On football/basketball player Evan Hinson’s schedule in December
"When we get back to bowl practice, he’ll be back with us. Frank (Martin) and I talked about it, and Evan and I had a good talk. He wanted to have the opportunities the next couple of weeks to play basketball, and I thought it would be good for him and good for our basketball team."
On the early signing date
"I think we’re in a good spot. Obviously, there’s a signing date December 20. Somebody may feel like they’ve been committed to you, and in those sorts of situations where they all of a sudden say they may sign in February, it makes you start wondering where you are with that young man. Obviously, in a lot of situations academically, they didn’t do well in the fall semester. Then we have to reevaluate that situation. So, there are a lot of different things you’ve got to juggle through in this early signing date as far as those things are concerned."
On the importance of playing a New Year's Day Bowl and if it carries extra prestige
"Absolutely, any time you’re in a spotlight like this and playing in a bowl like the Outback Bowl, obviously it’s good for your program and it’s good for your players. It’s exposure that our program gets and our players get, and that’s what it’s all about to me."
On Michigan’s staff and if he knows Jim Harbaugh
"I do not. I know Greg Mattison very well, their defensive line coach. He’s an outstanding football coach and a great person."
On players sitting out bowl games to prepare for the professional draft
"No one’s expressed that at this time. Not so far."
On what the result of the game will mean
"We’re there to win the game. The fun is in winning. If you don’t win the game, they give you all these nice bowl sweats, and you don’t want to wear them. All that stuff from the game just makes you think about it again. You might as well win the game, and that’s what we’re going to do."
On his evaluation of the football program
"I think you evaluate your entire program and all three phases from a football standpoint. Obviously, we’re in the middle of recruiting right now, and this accelerated signing date has changed some things for us. It’s a constant evaluation of what we need to do to improve and get better. That’s what I’m going through right now with our entire organization. Along with recruiting and along with a lot of other things going on. He’s asking me about schedules for December 26 and I’m not really ready to say that right now. (laughs) That’s kind of where we are."
On the Jadeveon Clowney hit that that synonymous with Carolina's last Outback Bowl matchup with Michigan
"I’m going to see if he’s got a year of eligibility left. Even a quarter. (laughs) I’ve seen it a lot, it looked good. I don’t where I was at the time, but I’ve seen it a bunch. It was a nice hit."