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Muschamp, Gamecocks preview upcoming game against Missouri

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University of South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and selected players discuss the Gamecocks’ upcoming game against Missouri:

Head Coach Will Muschamp Quotes

Opening Statement
“We’ve got Missouri over in Columbia, Missouri at 4 o’clock on the SEC Network. Looking forward to going on a true road game here with our football team. We had really good work this morning for a Tuesday practice and we’re working on some things to improve our football team. I have a lot of respect for Barry Odom. In my time here at South Carolina and his time here in Missouri I have a lot of respect for him first of all as a person but also as a football coach. They got a really good football team. Derek Dooley is their offensive coordinator. Derek and I were together at LSU and the Miami Dolphins and I have tremendous respect for the job he’s done last year with Drew Lock and kind of accentuated the things that he did well and he’s done a fantastic job with Kelly Bryant, a young man that I have tremendous respect for. This year, he’s completing right at 70 percent of his balls. They have a really good offensive football team and are very athletic and big on the offensive line. (Tyler) Badie and (Larry) Rountree are both really good runners. The tight end, Albert O, is a really good player. I’m not going to pronounce his last name. I probably won’t get it right. Both receivers, (Jalen) Knox and (Jonathan) Nance are both guys that can finish on the top end. They’ve got a really talented offensive football team. Defensively, it all starts up front with those guys. Jordan Elliott is a really good football player. Played against us last year. Both ends can really rush the edge. They do a lot of movement up front to create confusion for you. Cale Garrett is a really good linebacker and a four-year starter. They are talented on the back end and the specialist for them does all three phases, placekicking, kickoffs and punting and he has got a huge, huge leg and are really solid on teams. We have our work cut out for us. We’re looking forward getting back on the field, I can assure you of that. Injury report-wise, there’s really no change. Brad Johnson and Randrecous (Davis) will not play for us this week. I don’t expect them back until after the open week.”

On A.J. Turner and where he’s played the first three games
“Good. He’s missed some time with a thumb. He had the shoulder in training camp and missed a lot of time. That’s really what put him behind the eight ball a little bit as far as reps and turns at a new position. He’s a guy that we need to continue to come on, number one on special team and then number two at corner because we need more guys that we can play there.”

On if the team has works like it is desperate to turn things around
“Yeah, I think so. I think we played a really good team on Saturday. Our guys played their butt off and unfortunately, we didn’t make enough plays to make to win the game. When you’re in the locker room when the game is over and you see the guys are hurting, it’s not a good thing but it’s a good thing and it bothers them. We have really good leadership and a good culture in this organization. The leadership is in a really good spot. Meeting with those guys on Sunday and talking about where we are and being realistic and understanding it’s not where we want to be and not where we thought we were going to be, but this is where we are right now. Understand where we are and what we’ve got to do to crawl out of it and that’s what we’re going to do.”

On if you need to simplify some things with Ryan Hilinski in his first road game
“We work with crowd noise at every practice. We did again today. You’re always concerned about it. It’s always been a concern. I think it goes back to kind of what we talked about the first two weeks. What does Ryan feel comfortable with and let’s make sure we get him in situations where he feels comfortable with. We’ve taken a lot in both games with him because he’s able to handle a lot. In my notes walking off the field, remember this is his first start and that’s what we’ll talk about this afternoon with our staff.”

On Kelly Bryant and how he looked at Missouri
“There’s some similarities offensively with what everybody does when you’re talking 11-on-11 personnel or 12 personnel, run game, throwing game wise, talking schematically that carries over between teams. He’s a winner. That’s the one thing that jumps out at you. He throws the ball extremely well. He throws the vertical ball well. He evades and moves to throw the ball more than run with the ball. I don’t know that facing him before at another school means an awful lot other than I’ve got tremendous respect for him.”

On Ryan Hilinski’s start against Alabama
“There’s a lot to like. Were there some mistakes made? Sure. Didn’t create a motion on a critical third down situation. There were a couple things here or there. Big picture wise, he’s a freshman. There’s going to be some mistakes that are going to made. To do a lot of things he did athletically and mentally and just the fortitude of having some toughness about him, there’s a lot to like about the performance. There are some things that we’ll obviously coach him up on but there’s a lot of things we don’t have to coach him up on, the intangible qualities of what he possesses. That to me says an awful lot.”

On taking chances during the Alabama game
“It’s all game to game. What do we have to do to win the game? At the end of the day, we’re going to do what we feel like as a staff in every football decision we make in the organization is about winning and what puts us in the situation to win the game. That was a situation where we felt like we needed to steal some possessions in the game going into the game. The game’s changed. The situation of the game is changed. You get into the game and all of a sudden you get down 14 points, you may have to change some things you want to do in the game may not be the same approach you had going into the game. All of those things change depending on how the game is going. It’s all about the situation and what presents itself in making the right decision for your football team.”

On the offensive line
“I think we’re more athletic and powerful at the position. You look at Jordan Rhodes and Jovaughn Gwyn, both young players but both guys that have girth and power. They are both very athletic and when they get their hands on you, they’re really strong. Donell has always been a guy that we’ve had a lot of confidence in. (Sadarius) Hutcherson and Dylan Wonnum have played really well on Saturdays. All five of those guys played every snap, all 91 snaps and I think Eric Wolford does a really good job of training his players and getting them ready for game day. I think we’re more athletic and more powerful than we’ve been up front.”

On addressing the tackling issues from Saturday
“In the big picture, we had about 11 missed tackles for the game. There were some really good players out there that we were missing on. We’re going to continue to coach and we need to bring our feet. We need to quit worrying about trying to get the ball off people and secure tackles. Then we can try to get the ball off people. That’s something that’s not just being coached this week, it’s been coached for a very long time, but players have to make decisions and snapshot decisions on game day. Sometimes it’s easy to be critical of a player in a situation when you’re going up an elite player and trying to get him on the ground. We’ll continue to coach it.”

On how the team has addressed some of the tackling issues from Saturday against No. 2/2 Alabama
“We had about 11 missed tackles for the game. There were some really good players out there that we were missing on. Again, we’re going to continue to coach. We need to bring our feet, we need to quit worrying about trying to get the ball off people and secure tackles – then try and get the ball off of people. That’s something that’s just not being coached this week, it’s been coached for a long time. Players have to make decisions – snapshot decisions on game day. Sometimes it’s hard to be critical of a player in a situation when you’re going up against an elite player and trying to get him on the ground. We’ll continue to coach it.”

On if something has changed with Missouri’s defense the past two games allowing just eight points
“No, I think there was a couple chunk play yards (at Wyoming); they had a couple plays pop on them in man coverage. One of them was a 70-yard run and the other one was a 60-yard run against Wyoming. There was a lot of field position swings in that game. A lot of people don’t know this, Wyoming is a very difficult place to play. The elevation is real. When we were at the University of Texas, we played up there (in 2009). We were told to tell our players all week, ‘It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal.’ I had about five guys puking on the sideline. After about the third guy puked, Sergio Kindle looked at me and said, ‘Quit saying it’s not a big deal. It is a big deal. I’m dead.’ We were in the middle of the first quarter, so that’s a huge factor playing out there. You could see that as the game wore on, obviously that fatigue of the elevation did affect them out there.”

On how much they energy picks up this week playing the first SEC East opponent on the schedule
“I thought we had good energy at practice today. One of the things we talk about all the time is having the opportunity to win the (SEC) East. This is our first division opponent, and that’s been emphasized by myself and our leadership group today at practice.”

On the run defense’s play vs. Alabama and its plan to slow down Larry Rountree this week
“I think we played well in the run game at times. When you’re able to hold them at 3.0 yards per carry that’s pretty good. We want to be at 3.3 (yards) per carry in any game. We think that’s winning football in the run game. We were able to do that against a very big offensive line and an organization, I know, that prides itself in trying to run the football. That was a step in the right direction. A little bit different this week, a big, athletic offensive line and smaller backs. (Larry) Rountree and (Tyler) Badie can both get the ball on the edges. They’re really one-cut runners. They get the ball north and south extremely well. We played against them last year, so we’ve got a pretty good idea the kind of backs that they are. We’ve got a lot of respect for them.”

On where the team has progressed so far and needs to improve
“Defensively, we’ve got to improve tremendously on the backend. The explosive plays are something we emphasize going into the game, and we didn’t obviously handle that situation very well. We need to play more consistently on the defensive side of the ball, because we have had some spurts where we have played well. I’ve been pleased with our special teams. We need to do a better job on kickoff returns than we did a week ago. They did a nice job in their coverage units of switching some things up. We’ve got to get a hat on a hat in the return game. We’ve got some explosive guys back there to give us some opportunities in the return game. Offensively, we’ve got to continue to progress and stay balanced with what we do. We’ve got to be able to provide Ryan (Hilinski) a running game where we don’t feel like we have to put it on his shoulders. Late in the game, it became a throw game obviously when we got down a couple of scores. We need to continue to protect the quarterback and develop some run game on offense each week.”

On if a true freshman QB throwing 57 passes in his second game against Alabama is more of a product of who Ryan Hilinksi is, how the game has changed or maybe how you have changed as a head coach
“Well, I haven’t changed at all – so with that being said, going into the game its always we have to do what we have to do to win the game. I think it speaks volumes about Ryan. Young skill players are so much further advanced in 2019 as opposed to maybe 2007 and 2008 because of 7-on-7, because of the different training mechanisms you have now from a skillset standpoint. I think that quarterbacks, skill players and defensive backs when you get them now, they’re so much further along because of the 7-on-7s and the individual training that guys get now.”

On what he’s seen from Joseph Charlton so far this season
“He’s a very valuable guy. When we first got here, he wasn’t the most charming individual in the world. You can ask him, and he’ll agree. He’s one of my favorite players on the team. He’s a guy that’s always quick-witted. He and I have a good time at practice when we’re in punt period together. He’s got a huge leg. He’s a great competitor; he really competes hard at punting and improving himself. He works really hard at his craft. He’s got a tremendous future, really does. I’m really proud of Joseph.”

On what Kyle Markway has brought to the tight end room
“Stability would be the word that would jump out at me. The guy has played really good football for us. He’s been a very steady contributor his entire time on the field. I was thinking back to our first trip out there our second year, he got hurt. He had some frustration with some injuries the first couple years when I was here, but here he is in grad school. He still has two years to play, this year and next year. He’s a really good football player and has been playing at a high level. He gives us a lot of variety in the passing game. He does a good job in the underneath zones and finding soft spots in coverage. He does a good job blocking at the point of attack. He’s played really good football for us.”

On what Jamyest Williams needs to do to perform better
“I think it’s just consistency in his performance, whether it’s mental, whatever the case may be. We’ve really challenged him because he’s had some really good plays and some really good flashes of ball playing extremely well. He’s had some mental mistakes here and there that we’ve got to correct. I always say, the secondary and the offensive line, those are the two areas that you better be communicating, and you better be playing at a high level or you’re in for a long day. That’s not something where we’ve played at a high level this year. It’s not all on him. There’s a lot of guys that need to play better as well.”

On how soon he expects Jake Bentley to be back in the fold for meetings, etc
“I talked to him last night. He was in the building on Sunday. We’ve had all these guys getting sick, so we told him to go home. It was good to get him back in the building, get him around the guys. He’s having a hard time moving around, so he probably won’t travel with us for about six weeks. Obviously, he’s disappointed. He sounds great, but that’s who he is. He’s positive about where he is and where he needs to get to, to get back.”

On where Nick Muse’s game is at after two games
“I think Nick’s playing really well. You go through training camp and you rep him all the time because you’re trying to get guys to understand the offense, continue to improve and get better at their skillset. As you get to game planning for the first game, his reps decrease drastically because of the uncertainties about him being able to play. We didn’t have any idea and then didn’t get any word until the Friday before Charleston Southern. He gets thrust into that situation and I’m sure he had some nerves and things that go in to playing in your first game in a new situation and then really only one full practice week against a really good defensive football team (Alabama). All he’s going to do is continue to get better. He has a great competitive edge. He has a really good skillset for the position and really has a skillset for what we need at the position. We’re very pleased with him.”

On the improvements he’s seen in Kelly Bryant since South Carolina faced him against Clemson
“The more snaps you take the game continues to slow down for you. I think he’s got a really good command of their offense, not that he didn’t before, but I think he’s got a really good command of what they do offensively. You see him directing traffic, changing the protections, switching the back, making sure they’re straight with the tight end, there’s a lot of things you see, again, I’m not saying we didn’t see that before, but I think the command and the comfort level with what they do – you see he’s very comfortable with.”

On Kyle Markway sticking with the team through setbacks and coming out the way he did
“It says a lot about his upbringing. He’s got a great family. They’re able to come to a lot of the games and come a long way for a lot of the games. Kyle’s a first class young man. He’s got a huge future in front of him in a lot of ways, whether it’s in football or the business world or whatever it is because he’s extremely bright, extremely intelligent, he’s got a great work ethic. He’s going to be tremendously successful because of the type of person he is.”

On game planning with Dakereon Joyner and Jay Urich playing multiple positions
“It is difficult. It’s very difficult to be fair first off with I would say Dakereon because there’s some things at wideout that we spent about week and a half really concentrating with him on in preparation for the season and then obviously we had to switch some gears. He’s handled it beautifully like he does everything. It’s hard to get the time with Dan Werner, the time with Bryan McClendon, the basic fundamentals at the receiver position, which is something that’s totally new to him as far as those things. Jay is spending more time at receiver and we’re keeping him up to date in the quarterback room in case that situation presented itself. It’s no different than when I was in the NFL – you always had to have an emergency third situation.”

COURTESY USC ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT

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