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Will Muschamp Press Conference Quotes + Video
Dec. 15, 2016


Opening Statement
"We start practice today. We'll have eight practices here in Columbia. The first four really (have) no emphasis at all on USF. We're working on South Carolina -- fundamentals and physicality and the things we need to do to continue to improve our team. On Monday, we'll start our prep for USF. We'll practice through Thursday morning, our normal game week. We'll get the game plan done here in Columbia before we get to the bowl site. We'll get four practices in Birmingham, so it will be good preparation, and we'll take a step forward for our guys.

"Exams this past week -- our guys did extremely well. Everybody is ready to go for the bowl game, so we're excited about that. Maria Hickman and her staff do a fantastic job in the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center. They just do a fantastic job. We had ten guys graduate in the ring ceremony last Monday, so that was exciting for them.

"I want to congratulate Shawn Elliott for (getting) the head coaching job at Georgia State. He has seven great years here at South Carolina, and I appreciate him helping us here in our transition moving forward. Cedric Williams, a former Gamecock who was working in the weight room, (was) hired as his offensive line coach, so that's awesome as well. I'm really happy for Ced.

"I will not hire an offensive line coach until after the first of the year. We're still talking to some people, and we want to make sure we take our due diligence to hire the best fit for us. We don't go live recruiting again until Jan. 12, so there's no reason to rush into anything right now.

"In the meantime, for the bowl game only, John Latina is going to coach our offensive line. (He) obviously (has) a history with (offensive coordinator) Kurt Roper at Mississippi and at Duke University, and he's a guy that I've got tremendous respect for in this profession. Being the defensive coordinator at LSU and going against Ole Miss for all those years, they were extremely well-coached and fundamental. He's been out this fall, and I feel like the secondary and offensive line are two positions (along with) quarterback, three positions that you better have somebody that's coached the position and understands what they're doing. You can't just fit somebody in there and hope it goes well. John's experience of over 30 years, 37 years to be exact, we're going to enjoy helping us through the bowl game.

"Yesterday was the junior college signing day. (We signed) Keisan Nixon from Arizona Western, a defensive back that we're really excited about being a part of our program and Kaleb Chalmers from Northwest Mississippi signed as well. Those two guys will make our football team better moving forward.

"USF has got an outstanding football team. I know Coach (Willie) Taggart left to go to Oregon, but he left all those players in Tampa. They're a talented football team. They've got really good team speed (with quarterback) Quinton Flowers, (running back) Marlon Mack (and wide receiver) Rodney Adams. They've scored over 30 points in every game this year. They're very athletic and fast on defense. We've got our work cut out for us, but I'm looking forward to getting practice started today."

On the possibility of additional players transferring from South Carolina...
"I talked to the team Sunday after the last game and said if you want a new start or fresh start come see me, and no one came to see me, so other than Lorenzo (Nuñez), moving forward, that's it."

On the possibility of mid-year signees joining the team for bowl practice...
"Possibly. I can't really comment other than Keisean (Nixon) and Kaleb (Chalmers) possibly. If they don't play in an all-star game, and they're accepted to school, possibly for a mid-year graduate, they could practice with us, but I can't comment until they're here."

On if he wants mid-year enrollees to join the team for bowl practice...
"Absolutely, just to see the tempo of practice and get to know their teammates better. It's a win-win for everybody."

On the excitement to get back on the field after making great improvements in the second half of the season...
"I think, again, you can feel the buzz in the building with the coaches today. We're looking forward to when we start, at 1:30, with a team meeting and seeing the players. Our guys did a really good job with exams, and I'm proud of that. We've had some time to regroup and refocus a little bit. We got a couple of workouts in the week before exams, so they've had a little time to exhale, and get ready for a run against a very good football team. We need to prepare extremely well."

On his approach to the extra down time that comes before a bowl game...
"I think you've got to be careful. Your players can become a little stale with prepping for an opponent too much. It's no different than the first game of the season when you're coming out of training camp. I think it's important; we're not going to even talk about USF until Monday as far as our preparation is concerned. As a staff, we've game-planned them starting this past Monday when we all started back in the office. We did some quality control work on ourselves and also on them. We'll continue to work on that. The game plan needs to be done here; when you get to the bowl site there are a lot of distractions, and you want to be able to just refine things when you get to the bowl site. We'll spend a normal game week, starting Monday, on USF for our players."

On the status of Jake Bentley...
"I haven't seen him at all really. We were gone for two weeks, and then this past week our guys have been off. Other than the official visit weekend, I saw him a little bit there. He'll be fine."

On how a young roster impacts early bowl preparation...
"It's all the same. Football is a developmental game, and you've really got to work on the basic fundamentals. We do that on game week. We go good-on-good in game week so that doesn't change a lot either. There will be no scout work and no preparation on an opponent, nothing like that. It will be all about us improving and getting better and pad level and hand placement, strike and play. That's what we need to improve on.

On the big takeaways from the quality control work his staff has done recently...
"I think in all three phases there are things we can improve on. I think probably the most glaring issue is the ability to run the ball consistently and the ability to stop the run consistently on defense. Those are the two things we've got to continue to work on and improve on."

On the Clemson loss and how long it will take to get over that defeat...
"It still burns. That's part of it."

On the improvements the coaching staff needs to make after the season-ending loss...
"I look at the totality of the season, not one game. That's how I look at it. Again, the most glaring issue we had this year -- and there were a bunch -- at the end of the day, (was) our ability to run the ball consistently against good people, and our ability to stop the run on defense. We've got to get better."

On the ways to improve the team in the running game...
"We need to improve and get better. Schematically, we run an inside zone, we run an outside zone, we run a down-and-around scheme, we run a counter scheme and a power scheme. Most everyone in college football is running the same things. We need to improve on how we run it.

"I think there were multiple issues. We played three different quarterbacks, two of them true freshmen. There are multiple issues involved with it, and we need to improve on all three areas."

On the effect losing their head coach will have on USF...
"Quinton Flowers is still there. I think it's a distraction if you allow it to be. Willie (Taggart) is a really good football coach and a guy that I've got a lot of respect for. He's hired a really good staff down there. I know those guys are going to want to impress (new USF coach) Charlie Strong. They want to go practice well. I'm sure Charlie will be watching practice every day, so there's a lot of motivation still involved in that. The fact is, they're not going to change their identity in a couple weeks preparation for a bowl game about who they are and what they do. I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles, just like we'll have some new wrinkles. As far as philosophically with what they've done offensively, defensively and on special teams, they are who they are. They've got a good staff with (interim head coach T.J.) Weist and the guys that are still coaching there. They do a good job."

On the keys to Darius English's success this season...
"First of all, he practices at a high level. He really does. I think we've done a good job and (outside linebackers coach) Mike Peterson has a done a good job of narrowing down some of things pass rush wise that he does. He's a guy that does a nice job with his hands in pass rush. He keeps his feet moving. He's got a good take off. All of those and I think he has done a very good job of narrowing down and doing -- instead of a lot of things okay, doing very few things very well. That's what I've seen as much as anything. I would go back to practice with Darius. He practices hard. He goes out and practices the right way. Coming out of this spring because of his hip injury, I had no idea that he would even contribute other than maybe as a situational pass rusher. He's been good a lot of situations for us this year. I'd go back to practice being the most important thing that I see this guy do everyday."

On the size of Darius English and if that has been an issue for him...
"I think in some rundown situations, especially in matchups. We try to play him in a little bit more of a 3-4 standup roll just to get him a better -- we're not asking him to two-gap anybody. We're asking him to set edges of the defense in those situations. I can't comment on previous stuff because I don't know. For what we've asked him to do, he's been very effective."

On the junior college signees and if they can make the trip to the Birmingham Bowl...
"No, they can't go to the bowl game. They just get to practice."

On Keisean Nixon and Kaleb Chalmers what they do well...
"Athletically from a speed standpoint, both of them run extremely well. Both have really good ball skills down the field as far as playing and judging the ball. Both can finish plays down the field. I just think from a speed standpoint both of them have shown to be solid tacklers on tape. The physicality of the game they embrace. I think in all areas they make us better.

On the strengths of USF and their quarterback, Quinton Flowers...
"They run the ball extremely well. They've got all the outlets off the run game, so if you load the box they're able to get the ball on the perimeter. They're a fast team. They've got really good speed. They run extremely well. They create a lot of space plays. They create a lot of 1-on-1 situations where you've got to tackle very good skill guys in space. Flowers, the first thing, I know him from high school. He's a competitor. He's got a competitive edge about himself that you really appreciate as a coach. He's got the it factor as far as the intangible things that you want a quarterback to have."

On the influences he's had from coaching in past bowl games...
"Well, I think a lot of people do it different ways. I'm not saying there's one right way to do it. When I was with Nick Saban and Mack Brown, they were very similar to the way we approached it. We gave the players time off and then we had successful practices working on ourselves then getting ready for the bowl game. A lot of people continue to practice through the month of December. I think that becomes monotonous for the players after a while. It's go to they don't want to go to a bowl game if they're going to practice the whole month of December. We try to condense it and treat it like its spring ball type atmosphere where we're going to get 12-13 practices, about as many practices as we got preparing for a national championship game. There's only so much you can do. You get back in the swing of it pretty quickly of knocking the rust off and then in your third or fourth practice you're back to where you should be."

On the journey of defensive back Chris Lammons this season...
"I think to play defense you've got to tackle. In the Mississippi State game there were some missed tackles by him that were unacceptable for me, so that was the issue there. When you know that a young man can play better then what he put on tape -- because at the end of the day, with coaches and players, the tape is our resume. We addressed those situations with him, and he responded the right way instead of going into a shell and not responding and practicing the right way or blaming the coach. He took it on himself, which is what good players do. They take it on themselves. They take it personal. He came out and understood the demands that we had for him to improve as a player. I credit Chris for that."

On the ways for Jamarcus King to improve after a tough outing against Clemson...
"I think the biggest thing is to get stronger. When you go against the bigger receivers, you can't get bent around. He's got to continue to increase his physical stature, but that's something that's been said to him since day one. Sometimes it takes a tough night to teach somebody to understand they've got to get stronger. That would be the first thing. Again, he's going to continue to improve as far as his physicality, his strength and his awareness of playing defensive back against elite players."

On Jamarcus King's ability to adapt to the defensive back position after playing wide receiver in high school...
"I think he's got really good instincts, and I think that's something that we saw in the recruiting process, that he's a very instinctive player. But he's a guy that's very green in some areas. He's going to continue to get better with more reps. This week will be huge for him. I remember my first year at Florida, Loucheiz Purifoy was primarily a special teams player for us. He came out and ended up starting a bowl game for us. Hadn't started all year, and he came out in bowl practice and was one of our best corners, and he started the bowl game for us."

On newcomers joining the team for bowl practice and if he's done that before...
"There has been a handful. I think it's a win-win. You get to come in and see the tempo of practice, which that's always a little bit of an issue. It's a change. You get to meet the players, so your first time on campus, you're not trying to meet everybody. Bowl practice is a lot like training camp. School is not going on. You're focused on the football team practice and preparation. I think it's a really good experience for a student-athlete."

On the status of Skai Moore...
"He's been cleared for non-contact, but we're not going to practice him right now. He was cleared about a month ago to lift, and he's been working hard and looking forward to get back."

On if he would want Snoop Dog hanging around practice...
"Sure. I'm a big fan, that would be great."

On if he's planning on taking time to look at the younger linebackers now...
"Yes. Today the seniors aren't practicing the first two practices. They aren't even going on the field. We're going to lift them and run them to make sure they're in good shape. Saturday and Sunday they're going to practice as individuals and knock some rust off. We're going to go full mode on Monday. So it's all about the emphasis about the guys coming back. Sherrod Pittman is a guy that needs to continue to come along. Bryson Allen-Williams is a guy who needs to take the next step to become more consistent. He's done some really nice things for us and some really nice things in the pass rush. He's given us a lot more variety as far as the things he can do. We need to count on some young guys to come in and play right now."

On the development of the guys that didn't see time on the field this year...
"Sure. We practice those guys on Sunday nights. Football is a developmental game, and those guys get an hour of coaching after we get done with the guys that took a bunch of snaps on Saturday. We go practice those guys and coach those guys, and I've seen some nice jumps. (Offensive lineman) Sadarius Hutcherson is a guy who I think has made some tremendous strides throughout the year. (Defensive lineman) Aaron Thompson has done some nice things, and he continues to progress. (Tight end) Evan Hinson had a really good fall for us. So all of those guys have done a nice job in the weight room. We have a good young group that I am excited about."

On Evan Hinson's role with the basketball team...
"He's staying with them for the last two weeks, working with those guys. I'm excited about the things we can work with him on. The two-guard. Whatever a two-guard is (laughs)."

On how certain mid-year newcomers can take part in bowl practice...
"Some guys choose not to play in an all-star game because they would like to do this. If they play in an all-star game they can't do this. Their high school career has to be over, and that constitutes an all-star game. There are some stipulations that go into it. Some guys don't want to play in an all-star game and just come in here and practice. It's a personal decision."

On his familiarity with interim offensive line coach John Latina...
"I admire the job he did with the offensive line at Ole Miss. More than anything it's a respect from afar. That's the kind of football coach and person he is."

On what he will look for in an offensive line coach...
"I don't know if you can say there are one or two things. A guy that has some exposure to what we do and how we do things. A guy that has a proven track record of development in the position -- that's huge at that position. Someone who is going to be firm and fair with the players. All of those things are what we want on our staff. There's a lot of factors involved in it, not one or two."

On South Carolina's identity and what it could look like in the future...
"We certainly struggled early with an offensive identity and what we wanted to do. We narrowed some things down after the opening week and got better in some areas. We have a lot of improvement to do on both sides of the ball. You try and go back and identify the things your players can do well. That's what will continue to do moving forward. A good thing offensively, is as far as full-time players, Mason Zandi is the only guy we're losing. We're adding some good players from guys that redshirted and guys in the signing class who I'm excited about. We'll take some steps forward. Defensively, we need to replace Marquavius (Lewis) and Darius (English) who were very productive players. T.J. (Holloman) and Jon (Walton) were very productive linebackers for us. We have some holes to fill in on defense."

On getting his future kickers ready...
"Today will be an interesting day for some of those guys. We're going to have a one-minute situation practice today. We're going to put our kicker under duress and go and try and win the game. We're going to try and recreate those situations as much we can, knowing that Elliott (Fry), Sean (Kelly) and Drew (Williams) are not going to be there. Certainty over these next four or five practices we are going to work with some of the young kickers."

On if playing in a bowl helps with recruiting near the site of the game...
"We have eight players on the team from the state of Alabama. There's no question you get some exposure in that state. There are some really good football players and great coaches in the state of Alabama. It helps to win too, that's the most important thing."
 

 

 

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