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Muschamp Press Conference With Video, Quotes & Notes – 10/10/17 – Week #7 – Tennessee

Muschamp Press Conference With Video, Quotes & Notes – 10/10/17 – Week #7 – Tennessee


GCF Staff Report

October 10, 2017




Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference — 10/10/17



Will Muschamp pre-Tennessee



Jake Bentley Weekly News Conference — 10/10/17



Keisean Nixon Media Availability — 10/10/17



Skai Moore Media Availability — 10/10/17



Steven Montac Media Availability — 10/10/17



Dante Sawyer Media Availability — 10/10/17



A.J. Turner Media Availability — 10/10/17



Donell Stanley Media Availability — 10/10/17



Muschamp Press Conference – 10/10/17 – Week #7 – Tennessee


pdf.gif TennesseeNotes.pdf 2.05MB 0 downloads


Opening Statement


“We play Tennessee at Neyland Stadium, Saturday afternoon as Steve (Fink) said. Offensively, they’re led by John Kelly, who is an outstanding football player. He leads them in rushing and receiving. He runs violently and is a great competitor. We’ve got to do a good job of handling him in the run and the passing game.


“Defensively, they’re led up front. They’ve got (Jonathan) Kongbo, (Kendal) Vickers, (Shy) Tuttle and (Reginald) McKenzie – all guys that are hard to move inside. They’re always very good on special teams.


“From an injury standpoint, for us, Zack Bailey and Cory Helms both moved around in practice today. We’ll see how they continue to progress through the week. Malik Young we’re going to look at tomorrow. Terry Googer is still questionable.


On his team’s versatile defensive weapons…


“We’ve done a really good job of matching guys together on the field. Whether it be an experience guy like T.J. Brunson and Skai Moore with a guy with less experience like Sherrod Greene or Eldridge Thompson. I think our defense has done a really good job of managing that. We’ve been very fortunate we’ve been able to stay healthy on the back end. I think we progressed well – we’ve improved tremendously from game one to now. That’s the sort of improvement we definitely needed. We’ve made some improvements.”


On the differences in Jake Bentley now compared to one year ago when he became the starting quarterback…

“It’s his total command of what we do, understanding of protections, and just the mental side of it as much as anything. Obviously it is physically, the maturation is easy to see. But, just overall command of the offense, leader of our team. You know, understanding the confidence and belief that our players have in him and the job that he is going to do.”


On his reflections of the moment he turned to Jake Bentley as starting quarterback before the UMass game in 2016…

“It was tough, and I didn’t know if it was the right decision. I didn’t want to put him (Jake Bentley) in a situation where he wasn’t successful, and then you worry about, from a confidence standpoint, of trying to regain that confidence. It’s so delicate at that position in my opinion. So, it’s going very well, and I’m glad he’s our quarterback”


On the team’s biggest challenges going forward and what he wants to carry over from the stifling defensive performance against Arkansas…


“Well, I think the biggest challenge is consistency in your performance. Week-in, week-out, we can continue to play well, and that’s something we haven’t necessarily done, you know, as an entire team, much less a defensive unit. So, put together some performances that you’ll be proud of and how you play. There’s no doubt that consistency is really important to have the type of program we want to have.”


On the best way to teach players how to create turnovers…


“I think it’s a two-fold. I think some guys have innate ability. Steven Montac has the ability to get the ball off people. Earl Thomas had the ability to get the ball. Some guys had a natural (inclination), however they identify the ball, they do a really good job of getting the ball off people and just have that knack. I think our defensive staff does a phenomenal job. We do a turnover circuit every Tuesday, and they do a great job of pointing to violators, when the ball is not in a secure position. The people we try and go after in the game, they show video examples, they show pictures, they do everything to emphasize that part of the game. And it is so important to be a ball hawk defensively, and our defensive staff does a fantastic job.”


On the confidence that comes from shutting down the Arkansas running game and how that can carry over to the Tennessee game…


“It ought to give you some confidence, but I think John Kelly is one of the elite backs in our league. There’s no doubt about that. This guy really ran hard against us last year behind some of the guys he was playing behind. I think the first time he really got a lot of time was in our game last year. He took off from there. You can see, to me, especially offensively, their football team, they feed off of him. He’s a guy that certainly gets them going. He runs violently. He’s a great competitor.”


On the reasons behind the defense’s improvement over last season…


“Well, fundamentally, technique, I think we have improved tremendously from where we were. And, you just see the turn; we’re playing blocks more square. Not getting on the edges as much and people aren’t getting as much movement in the running game. So, I think playing blocks, being more square on blocks, I think we’re stronger up front. I think, obviously, from a pad-level standpoint, Ulric Jones has improved tremendously. Taylor Stallworth is having a really good year. He’s playing really good football for us. Kobe Smith is an improved player. Javon Kinlaw really helps us inside, be able to hold the point inside and demand a double-team and get some vertical penetration at times. We’re playing better at the end spot than we did a year ago. Dante Sawyer, Keir Thomas, Aaron Sterling are all guys, and Shameik Blackshear has gotten some snaps the last couple of games. Dennis Wonnum has played extremely well upfront. I think both linebackers are playing at a high level, T.J. Brunson and Skai Moore. And when you have two really instinctive players, we may have bounced out of a gap up front, defensively, but they’re able to make us right. I always say, ‘make us right in the run fit’. And Skai (Moore) and T.J. (Brunson) make us right a lot.”


On the best way to deal with outside negativity…


“I don’t know that you address anything with your football team. You’re not going to be able to shut off Twitter and limit or stop that negativity. That’s not going to stop. So, I think as a coach, you’re in somewhat in a bunker mentality. I get up really early and come in here. I leave late at night. I hate to disappoint all of you. I don’t read any of your articles. Not that I have time or want to. I don’t listen to the radio. Sorry, I apologize. (laughs) So, you’re kind of in a bunker mentality as a coach and there are things that have happened, it may be a day before I even hear about it. And, I’m in the film room. I’m in my office. I’m watching recruiting tape, and there’s a lot going on that you don’t know about during the season, and you just continue to work. You keep your head down, and you control the ‘control-ables’, and you just keep working. Sometimes, if you see things within your team or your organization, you may want to address something, but I don’t know that you’re going to be able to limit that outside of the things you can control. That’s your preparation with your staff and your football team, and that’s what I try and concentrate on.”


On the credit that goes to the offensive linemen for Carolina’s ability to run the ball…


“Well, I think you credit those young men for answering the challenge and the opportunity they had in front of them, but you also have to credit our staff. They did a really nice job of finding some things we felt like we can execute well in the game. And that’s been a little bit of an issue as far as missed assignments and some things that we haven’t, maybe, executed as well as we needed to. So, I think it’s both the players and the coaches (that) deserve a lot of credit in the game plan we came up with. And we need to continue to evolve again this week against a very good front in Tennessee.”


On the adjustments the team has made in the field goal kicking game…


“I think the depth has been something we’ve gone back-and-forth on as far as where the placement of the kick needs to be, and we’ve had some issues there. And I think more than anything, fundamentally, getting Ben (Asbury) back where we need to on the field goal snaps. He’s been really good with the punts and certainly has been very capable. Danny (Gordon) has done a nice job of getting the ball down. I think the distance and where the placement is has been an issue.”


On Parker White’s success inside of 40 yards and if that will affect his decision-making going forward…


“It will. And I think, again, like I said, Sunday, a lot to me goes into how well we’ve kicked through the week. And then, on game day, include how he’s kicking and how he feels. So, I think that there’s never a good miss, but there have been some well-hit balls that maybe have not been going through for him. And I think, the biggest thing, it’s a long season, especially early in the game. You know, those are situations that we did give a 4th-down opportunity. I told (Kurt Roper) on another situation we’re possibly in a 4th-down situation here. Those are things we constantly communicate on headsets. Depending on how the drive is going, and what is the line of scrimmage? We get a surge in the run game and maybe we will get a two or three yard gain, but I feel like we get the hat on the hat. And those are all game time decisions we’re making.”




On the momentum that comes from creating and scoring off of turnovers…


“You can’t put a scale on the amount of momentum that creates for your football team, and the frustration it creates for your opponent when they have a turnover and they score off of the turnover. I mean, it’s just so uplifting, confidence, belief. I mean, so many things, the emotion I think it gives you a charge for your football team, and it also deflates the other.”


On the team’s goal of leading the country in turnovers created…


“Well, that’s the number-one goal of our football team as far as winning the game, is the ball. Ball security as a ball carrier and getting the ball off people. When we don’t have our coverage units on defense, whatever the case may be, that’s the number one determining factor in winning and losing football games. And that’s something we emphasize. We talk about it. It’s in our team room every single day, as far as understanding how important that part of the game is to us. And, again, our defensive staff does a fantastic job in emphasizing that to our players. We talk about it every day.”


On Tennessee’s rushing stats after their game against Georgia Tech and if that changes how the Gamecocks plan to approach Saturday’s game…


“No, we need to find the ways that we need to move the ball. Certainly, I think the statistics can be very skewed when you play a team like Georgia Tech. As effective as Paul Johnson and those guys are running the football, certainly your rushing stats aren’t going to be what you want when you play a team like that. It’s a totally different mindset and attack than what we do, so we need to stay balanced in the game. I know that. Early on in the week, we feel good about where we are.”


On the challenges presented by Tennessee’s two-tight end formations…


“I think there are some similarities between what they do and what we do. (Ethan) Wolf has been there, what, six or eight years? (laughs) He’s been there a long time it seems like, and he’s got a brother coming. They create some blocking service issues; there’s a four-man blocking service at times and some movement as far as leveraging formations from their two-tight end set. They’re in a one-tight end set some as well. I think there are a lot of similarities and carryover for our defensive players this week, as opposed to last week where there was not.”


On the maturity of D.J. Wonnum….


“There is not doubt that D.J. has played extremely well this year. He’s a steady hand. You know you’re going to get good production out of him. He has really done a nice job of improving in his one-on-one pass rush. He’s had some really nice rushes. He missed some opportunities the other night. He was right there a couple of times, and it shows you how hard it is to sack a quarterback. I’ve been so proud of how he’s played, as a true freshman last year and how he has continued to evolve. I’ve really challenged him about number one, getting stronger in the weight room. He is extremely bright. He is extremely intelligent. He really understands the game. He’s a guy (that) you can tell him something one time, and he gets it. It’s done. You don’t have to tell him over and over again; he’s not a rep guy. The game comes very easy to him. He’s going to play for a long time.


On the importance of defensive effort as the bedrock of a program in the SEC…


“I coached at Texas in the Big 12, and I don’t think it’s any different, whether you’re in the SEC or what league you’re in. You start with effort, and you hone each position down fundamentally to what you need to be successful. What are the basic fundamentals you’re asking by position, at any of the 11 spots? Then you’ve got to be able to tackle. Then, figure out within your group, schematically, what can they do, and what can they handle? That, to me, anywhere I’ve been – and I’ve been a bunch of spots – I’ve tried to evaluate those things first, from a coach’s standpoint identifying your players. Who can be your playmakers? Who are your hot-button guys that you need to get going in the rush or you need to get into coverage. Can we play man coverage? Those are all questions you ask yourself, but to be it starts with effort. If you can get them to play hard, and I keep telling our football team: I haven’t questioned our effort in any game, and if you keep playing hard, and you keep playing smart, and the ball bounces your way, good things are going to happen for you. If you just will play hard and have some belief in each other; that’s the one thing, this team, they do play hard. If you turn the tape on, you see guys running to the ball. You see guys on offense finishing. You see guys trying to play with physicality. Has it always been what we wanted? No, but I certainly don’t question the effort.”


On the growth of Sherrod Greene…


“I think you’re always trying to find your best 11, and it may not be the next guy listed on the depth chart, but it may be a guy playing a different position. Let’s put him in there and get him ready to go and play. I think a little bit of that is with Sherrod Greene. He’s a guy that’s continued to play well. He’s a good football player. He plays things the right way. He plays blocks the right way. He’s a violent tackler. He does a really good job of disengaging in block protection and those sorts of things. He’s a guy that deserves to start at SAM (linebacker). We only had a week to get him ready, and he’s up there at 8:30 with Coleman (Hutzler) going over calls. Football is important to him, and you win with guys that that, and that’s what we’re going to continue to recruit to. Part of our evaluation is importance of the game, football intelligence, and willingness to learn.”


On the improvements the defensive line has made this season…


“Well I think the biggest question I have for them is consistency in your performance. Doing it week-in and week-out. Certainly, we need to play well again this week. I think, again, there is still a concern with our four-man pass rush. It hasn’t been as effective as it needs to be. It’s like we’re running in mud there in the third and fourth quarter. So, we’ve got to continue to win in the one-on-ones in our pass rush. But I am pleased with our gap integrity and how we’re playing blocks up front and demanding double teams. But again, we’ve got two guys at linebacker that when we’re wrong, and we been wrong in our fits at times, they’re going to make us right. When you have two guys like that, it’s very helpful. We missed some things in the A&M game; they spread us out a little bit. They hit some creases on us, and six (T.J. Brunson) and ten (Skai Moore) were able to erase some things for us.”


On talking to other coaches before the game…


“I mean, I just wish them well. I tell them good luck. I tell them to play and coach really good, except against the Gamecocks.”


On the differences from last season when the team was 2-4 at the midway point…


“I think we have a very close-knit team. We have a lot of guys I’ve been very pleased with, especially this Saturday. Our older players have accepted our younger players into the program. They’ve helped them along and cheered them through this process. As far as the six games are concerned, there’s a lot of football left to play. We’ve got to continue to improve. One of the things I’ve liked has been our work ethic and how we’ve gone about practice. Today was a very humid morning on the practice field. I thought we got a lot accomplished. So, if we continue to prepare the right way, we’ll create our separation as we move forward for Saturday afternoon.”


On Tennessee fans…


“I’ve got great respect for the University of Tennessee and their program and their history. You go back to General Neyland, Coach Majors and Coach Fulmer and the success that they’ve had. It’s a great environment to play in. I told my guys, we played Rocky Top a couple times today. They got a little tired of it, but it’s one of the storied programs in the country as far as the history and tradition of their program. I’ve got great respect for it.”


On the injured offensive linemen and if they will assume their starting roles once they are cleared to play…

“We’ll have that conversation as the week moves on, depending on their health and how much availability they’ll have. Is it going to be an emergency-only situation? Is it going to be a 40-snap situation? That determination will be made probably Thursday or Friday of this week. I know both guys can goof around right now, but I want to see how they continue to progress, how sore they’ll be tomorrow. All those questions will be answered as we move forward.”


On the progress of Keisean Nixon…


“Keisean is a really bright football player. He’s worked extremely hard. I think it was very difficult, him not getting here until camp started. We got to spend no time with him as far as the football end of it, the X’s and O’s end of it. Also from a physical standpoint, just being in shape, it’s a huge transition coming from the West Coast to the humidity of South Carolina. He complains a lot to me about it, and I said there’s nothing I can do about it. (laughs) It’s going to be humid here. Numbers-wise, we really struggled with where he fit, as far as safety, possibly nickel. He’s a natural corner. He’s going to be a really good player, a guy that we’re really excited about. I’m frustrated for him, because we played him at safety, and I really think that set him back a little bit, as far as the timing of getting in here. It’s been frustrating for him, I know it has, but he’s got to be a little patient, and he’s been great. He works extremely hard, and I’m excited about his future here.”


On the team playing Rocky Top at practice during the week of the Tennessee game…


“It’s just something that we do. If you play those guys, you play Tennessee, you’re going to hear Rocky Top a couple of times on Saturday, so we get them used to hearing it, but hopefully not too much.”

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