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Will Muschamp Fall Media Day Complete transcript

Will Muschamp Fall Media Day Complete transcript – 8/2/18

Opening Statement…

“How’s everyone doing today? Thank you all for being here. We’re heading into our third season, and it’s great to get started obviously. You know how excited I get this time of the year around training camp. It kind of divides the offseason up in stages. Really though our season started back in January. You all think it starts on September 1st, but really it started in January. You go into spring ball, you go into the offseason program and now we are into training camp. All of those stages are critical to the development of your football team. We had a team meeting that talked a lot about mindset and attitude, and how you make the choice to walk into the building every morning to be a positive guy or a negative guy and how a positive mindset doesn’t guarantee anything but a negative one does. You have to have the right kind of mindset going into training camp. I really like where our football team is. Obviously everyone will be excited for practice tomorrow, but by practice 17 or 18 we will see where we are. To this point, I have been pleased by the attitude and the mindset of our team, and moving forward we have an opportunity to get better every day. Our guys have that mindset and really understand what we have to do. Team and individual goals are great, but understanding how we achieve those goals and the work it is going to take to achieve those goals. If you don’t understand that process, then it does not matter. I do like the work ethic and the culture of our organization and where it is right now. We have staff of 10 assistants and myself that have won 27 conference championships and 10 national championships. So we understand how to win. We understand to get where we want to go, we have to have a buy-in from this football team and understand it is going to be a difficult and physical camp, a violent camp, that is what you have to do to be successful.”

 

“We are looking forward to getting started. Going into camp, if you had to ask me, concern-wise, personal-wise, maybe not concerned, but interested to see some position battles. The first thing we got to do is get the young guys ready on both lines of scrimmage and up front, because they are going to have to play. A lot of these guys have either been here and haven’t played or just stepped on our campus. We have to get those guys game ready by September 1st. That is really important, and a really critical thing we have to get accomplished in camp. The safety position. Steven Montac is the only guy that has really played in a college game at that position, so there is some concerns there. Again, I like our ability, I like our talent-level, they just haven’t done it. So obviously a question mark. Quality depth at the linebacker position. I like our talent, I like our ability, just haven’t done it. We have got to get those guys game ready, moving into our season. Competition will be fun to watch is running back, receiver and tight end. I think we have recruited well in those positions, and I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of competition in those guys and see who can emerge as we move through camp. Obviously we have to find a placekicker and that competition will run through camp and a punt returner. Again, I think the talent and the ability is there, and certainly the competition to me, the guys having to strain every day is going to create consistency in their performance which will make us a better team.”

 

“Injury front-wise, Brad Johnson and Eldridge Thompson will be limited, day-to-day with hamstring from the summer. Both of those guys I think it will be just a couple of days, I do not think it is going to be a long term deal. Lavonte Valentine has got to strengthen his knee. I’m hoping to get him cleared by the middle to end of camp, so he will be cleared for contact. Jabari Ellis had a scope on his knee, again I think it is going to be three or four days before we get him back, I do not think it will be long term. J.T. Ibe with his hip, I’m hoping to have him cleared by the end of camp, to get him ready for the opener. Chad Terrell is ahead of schedule with his knee, and probably looking at a middle of September or first of October to be completely cleared there. Two guys that will be non-contact, Ben Asbury had knee surgery, I also have put Ben on scholarship. A guy who had a fantastic year for us last year and going into his senior year is certainly deserving in how he played for us last year, but he will be non-contact until probably the middle of camp. Josh Vann had shoulder surgery there from Tucker High School, and he will be cleared probably around the middle of camp. After that, I will open it up to any questions.”

 

How to prepare for each upcoming team early in the season during camp…

“Well we spend our offseason studying opponents. We take about two days, start from backward to forward, and work on opponents back in February. As we finish up the cutups from the season, we study ourselves, but we start at the end of February and start of March, April. Then coming into the summer we spend a lot of time studying our opponents, and taking notes on our opponents. We just finished up with Coastal yesterday. So that is something we spend an awful amount of time on, in regards of game planning. As we get into camp, we will not start on Coastal until school starts. We will spend time focusing on South Carolina, and focusing on ourselves. That was one of the big things I talked to the guys about in the meeting today is that it is not about any opponents right now, it is about South Carolina and us getting better and improving every day.”

 

On preaching ‘you haven’t accomplished anything yet’ and how it affects team… “Well I don’t know that, I just think, some people can call it negative, but I call it being realistic. It is where we are. We want to win the east and win our state every year, that is our goal for our program from year one to year three, and we haven’t done that yet.”

 

On if Josh Belk has joined team yet… “Yes he is a part of our team.”

 

On if Josh Belk has filed a waiver with the NCAA yet… “We have filed a waiver with the NCAA.”

 

On what the process is like, and what the timetable is with Josh Belk… “Again I think, obviously, they have been very much more lenient with the transfer situation, so I think Josh has a very good case for that. Chance Miller and our compliance office is working diligently to get that waiver request to the NCAA and there is no timetable.

 

On if Josh Belk will jump right in as if he is going to play week one… “Absolutely.”

 

On moving Zack Bailey over to left guard and what to expect from him… “Well I think Blake (Camper) has really changed his body since he has been here, over the last year. When Zack was injured last year, and I think he played very well at the right tackle position, so he earned the opportunity. Zack played well at the right tackle position. We were not as pleased at all, but it is all about getting your best five on the field. Zack, we felt going back and looking at it, was a more productive guard on the inside in regards to movement and things to continue to try and get more surge on the line of scrimmage. To get our best five on the field right now, that is where he needs to be. He will also be a center as well, a backup center.”

 

On if he has seen any difference in Deebo’s attitude since coming off injury… “No, not really. He has been a guy who has practiced right since I have been here. He goes after it all the time, that’s why he is a good player. God has blessed him with a lot of ability, but one of the abilities that he has been blessed with is work ethic. The guy works extremely hard. I think anytime as an athlete, when the game is taken away from you, maybe personally it means a little bit more to you, but his work ethic has always been outstanding so I don’t really see a change in that. He has really attacked this offseason, and we are looking forward to getting him the ball.”

 

On if there is any update on Javon Charleston… “No, Javon I am going to let the judicial process take its course and we will make a decision after it is over.”

 

On if he has a timetable on Javon Charleston… “No.”

 

On how he would describe Bryan McClendon’s personality and if personality goes into playcalling… “Oh, I think it certainly does. Bryan has a very upbeat and aggressive mentality and I think has done a really good job with our players since he has been here, number one as a receivers coach and changing that group and the production and development in that room has been outstanding. And since he has taken over as coordinator, going all the way back to the bowl game, has done an outstanding job with our players. I would describe him as a more up-tempo, aggrieve mindset.”

 

On advantage of playing young guys early… “Well we didn’t have any choice the first year. So it was, what it was. I think as much as anything it is really good examples right in front of them, as far as leadership is concerned and work ethic and how to practice the right way. And understanding that process is really important for a young player. So when you have a young offensive linemen and they see the way Donell Stanley and our offensive linemen go about their work ethic and a young defensive lineman looks at Dennis Daley and our defensive linemen and the way they practice, I think that is really, really important and a great example for a young player.”

 

On evaluating punt return and if they will go live… “We are going to have some live coverages, that was one of the notes I had from the season. Early in the year I felt like we didn’t cover as well at times in some punting situations. We were not as effective in returning punts as well as we needed to. So we will do some live kicks. Obviously when you have an untested returner, which we are probably going to have, it is important to see live bullets. At the end of the day, that is going to be important. We have a bunch of guys back their working, Rashad Fenton, Bryan Edwards, Keisean Nixon and Deebo Samuel. We have a bunch of guys that are going to be up for the job and our number one thing at the end of the play we got ball possession. Do you remember the first year? Yeah, me too.”

 

On the new redshirt rule… “Well we do not make any decision of anyone redshirting until the beginning of the season. My question after the second scrimmage of fall camp is going to basically to our staff is he going to be better as a freshman game five, than a junior senior or sophomore in front of him. That is the way I approach it. If the answer is yes, then we need to play him. If he can help our football team win games, we are going to play him. We have played more true freshman in the entire country over the past two years. So, with that being said, if we go to the first ball game and we are not really sure if this guy is going to help our football team, the new rule gives you the latitude to say we are going to put the guy in the game. We have four of those games where we can make that decision, so that is how we as a staff discussed how we are going to approach it. If he is a guy we feel like we can count on him, to go in and play productive football for us. I think where the rule really helps you is on the back end. Where maybe a young man is not ready week one, two, three, four or five, but as he continues to develop, like a Jake Bentley his first year, and all of a sudden you look up and there is three games left in your schedule, or four games left on your schedule, and you have had some injuries at one position, and with the old rule you couldn’t play him because you burned an entire year. Now you have the opportunity to go play him, and you are not burning an entire year. When I was at LSU in 2001 we played Tennessee in the SEC Championship game, we lost our two corners in the Arkansas game. We had a young man by the name of Travis Daniels, he had to be our third corner going into the game, he had not played all year, and Coach Saban sat down with him and said we have to practice the right way so either you want to play, or you don’t want to play, we don’t want to burn your year. He said he wanted to play, so we told him if we had one guy go down, you have to go into the game. Damion James I believe went down at the goal line, Travis Daniels goes in the first play against Donte Stallworth, and knocks the ball out of him inside the five yard line. We ended up winning the game, won the SEC Championship, and went to the Sugar Bowl and he played and started against Illinois, but we burned his game on a game and a half. Really though, it was about mid-way through the third quarter. So that is where I think this is a really good rule from the standpoint sometimes when you have attrition like injuries concern as the year goes on, now you are able to play a guy. Because a lot of these guys aren’t really ready to play day one like they think they are and they have to continue to develop throughout the year. I think it is a great rule, and I wish it would of been in effect a long time ago.”

 

On why Jake Bentley succeeds in a hurry up offense, and how they can decrease the amount of turnovers… “Well I think as much as anything, you become accustomed to what you are used to doing. He has been in an up-tempo offense his entire high school career and coming here. His production in an up-tempo situation has been better than when he is not in an uptempo situation. So that is what you become accustomed to doing, what he is used to doing. He is very cerebral, he thinks very fast, he has good mental quickness as far as getting the ball out and making fast decisions, so that is something that I think is going to help him. You know, I think when you have an interception, it could have been on protection, it could of been on the route, it could of been on miscommunication. There is a lot of things that you go through and you evaluate what we could have done better in those situations, so not of those are on Jake. Obviously there are some that he would like to have back. The good thing about Jake is that he is very coachable. He has a coach me attitude, and as he watches the tape, there is nobody more of himself than Jake Bentley, I can assure you of that.”

 

On how social media has put more pressure on athletes more today than in the past… “Oh, I don’t know. We talked about social media in our meeting today. It is not going to help us win any games, I can assure you of that. Be smart about it. A lot of our guys shut down Twitter, which I think is smart, or I should say social media, during the season which I think is smart. It really isn’t going to help you win any games, I don’t know how it effects them. I couldn’t answer that question, maybe you are going to talk to them in a second, you can ask them.”

 

On if there are any freshman that Coach is excited to see… “I’m anxious to see every last one of them.”

 

On if there are going to be any freshman that he sees and thinks they are going to play… “I have been doing this over 20 years, and I have gone into over 20 years of training camps, and in my mind had an idea of who I thought was going to help our football team is going to play a bunch for us. You know, these guys go through so much. New coach, new system, new atmosphere, they have stuff going on at home, I mean they are going through a lot. They come onto our campus, and a lot of times, playing as a freshman does not have a lot to do with ability, but it has to do with maturity. How they mature in a situation, how they come on campus and handle themselves. How they get along with their teammates, how they get along with their position coach. I think there are so many variables that effect a guy playing, I think sometimes it has zero to do with ability. So I am excited to see all of them play, and we will determine who is going to be helping our team as we move through training camp.”

 

On the addition of Coach Werner to the staff… “Well a wealth of experience on the offensive side of the ball. I think you track down his development of the quarterback position is as good as anyone in the country. You look at his background offensively, it is vast. From two-back looks at Miami and the operation there, to developing more of an up-tempo attack back at Ole Miss, which is what we are moving more to as a far as dictating the tempo of the game. So, his wealth of knowledge at the quarterback position, and then offensively with different backgrounds has been a really good help to our offense.

 

On how Jake Bentley has developed his leadership skills… “Well I don’t know if you improve as a leader in some ways, but I think he has been a natural leader as he has got here. Have the command he had with our football team going into game seven, his true freshman year, to being named co-MVP with Deebo Samuel says a lot about the respect that he has within our organization. To be only one of three young men in South Carolina’s history to be named team captain by his teammates his sophomore year to me says an awful lot about the respect and the leadership and ability he has with his teammates. The things I would tell Jake, he could be more assertive at the end of the day. I tell guys all the time, and I’ve told our leadership group this, and I mean this in a very positive way, be very selfish about your season. You can be selfish about wanting to be good, and wanting to be great and winning a championship. Don’t let anyone else ruin your season. I think that goes for all of our leaders, don’t let anyone mess your season up. I think that is something that we say in our organization, you can’t be selfish about anything else, but about your season.”

 

On luck in the run game… “Success and failure in the run game can boil down to schematically we were wrong, or physically we were whipped. I think it was probably about a mixture of both in failure, and probably a mixture of both in success. I think it would it would be hard to put in a percentage totally on the success and failure of the run game based on those things. I think athletically, girth and strength we are better on the offensive line than we’ve been. I think we do have a talented group of backs. I do think the tempo will help us in situations. As I always say, fatigue makes cowards of us all. When you weigh 300-plus pounds in September heat here, and we are on the ball and going fast, because that is what we are used to doing, and again you get good at what you are used to. To be able to get on the ball and do some things. A lot of times in tempo, teams can talk about physicality all they want, half the time the defense doesn’t get lined up, and they crease them for 30-yard inside zone, and nobody is lined up. Those are some things that are going to help us moving forward.”

 

On Urban Meyer situation and being totally transparent… “If you see something, say something. That is our motto around here. I told our staff again today, and I have told our staff many times since I have been at the University of South Carolina. We are very transparent in everything that happens within our organization, we know exactly who to talk to whether that is doctors, or Carl Wells on campus, or Judy Van Horn down in our Athletic Department. When we feel like one of those situations arises. Our players understand that, and our staff understands that.”

 

On other quarterbacks… “Well I feel good about the ability and talent level. Mike (Scarnecchia) is a guy that the game has slowed down for him. The first year he never got a snap because he tore a labrum in his shoulder. So him coming back now, Mike throws the ball extremely well. We can run our offense with him and we can win football games. I have a lot of confidence in him Jake and Dakereon Joyner are both tremendous athletes that give you a lot of different things with their legs, we got to continue to come on in the decision making as far as the RPOs and things and in the throwing game. That is where they have to continue to make some strides. Again, I’m not displeased with anyone.”

 

On moving the secondary around… “I think it starts with getting the four, five, six best guys on the field. Whether that is corner, safety, nickel, or a defensive back playing the dime position for us, which we have some body-wise guys with us that can do that for us. We have to find out how to get the best four out there. Right now, we got Jam [Jamyest] playing safety. Tavyn Jackson is going to be a guy that can play safety, he can play nickel, he is also a guy who can still play the corner position. It isn’t about the next guy on the depth chart, it about the next best player, because we are going to expose the next few weeks as much as we can to our players. To make sure that they can play multiple spots. When you get into a game-time situation you can put a guy in nickel that we haven’t repped much during the week and still win with him if we have an injury at that position. So we will expose as much to our guys to our scheme as we can in the first two weeks, and then the third week we will start dialing it back and get ready for a game and get our four, five, six best guys ready.”

 

On what makes [can’t understand name] so good… “Well, he has really good instincts in man and zone. He has outstanding instincts. He has a tremendous work ethic. He is extremely bright and he works really well in everything that he does. He has improved his communications skills, and that has got to be critical for you in the safety position because we have to be locked in back there as far as the other safety in concerned and the nickel and the corners have to have a lot of communication with our linebackers. We put an awful amount on our mike and both of our safeties and our defense from a communication standpoint. He has all the characteristics you need. He can play in the deep part of the field, he can finish on plays, he is a solid tackler, especially in the open field, and he is a good blitzer. He has a lot of traits that make him a good safety.”

 

On the kicker competition… “Well Alex (Woznick) and Shane Hynes are on our campus now. Those three guys will compete through camp and we will look at it every day to see from a production standpoint. All three are very capable of being our kicker here at South Carolina. We need to improve at the end of the day. It probably cost us a game or two at the end of the year. Not being able to convert an extra point and multiple field goals.”

 

On what he has seen in Dakereon Joyner and if he will see the field in special packages this year… “Again, that will be determined in training camp. At the end of the day, we need to be productive as an offense and if he is one of our best 11 on offense, then certainly there is going to be an opportunity for that. That has yet to be determined as we work through camp. What I have seen with Dakereon is a guy who has off the charts leadership capability. Positively effects everyone around him. You can see why at 15 years old he won a State Championship at Fort North Chester High School right here at WilliamsBrice. He has the uncanny leadership ability to affect everyone around him. He has that kind of charisma, and that is certainly what you want at the quarterback position. Again, we are excited about him, and let’s see how he works through camp, and if he can help us win football games, and that goes for Jay Urich, that goes for everybody. That’s not just for Dakereon.

 

On graduate transfers… “Well I think both guys first of all are extremely bright. You can see that when we had some meetings this summer, which now by NCAA rules we are allowed to do. Extremely bright guys that can learn what we do, they will be fine. I am not worried about them as far as that is concerned. Both guys have urgency about what they do and how they do things. Both guys work extremely hard at the game. Now with the new rules, we were able to teach a lot of different things to them this summer. So now as we head into fall camp we have already been through our first four or five installations. So they are able to retain well, they are able to communicate well, and I’m not worried about their learning ability.”

 

On the tight ends and how they fit in an up-tempo offense… “I wouldn’t say K.C. (Crosby) is small, you are taking a shot at my guy. K.C. blocks extremely well at the point of attack. Tight-ends now-a-days, and what is really hard is this, sometimes you get a guy that is going to block the c-area, but he couldn’t beat me down the middle of the field, and that’s not good. Or guys that are strictly receivers and they won’t block anybody. So right now, and I think we got a good combination of guys, K.C. is a guy who can block at the point of attack, and he is also a tremendous threat in the passing game. The thing that K.C. does, is he catches a lot of contested passes well. They may have him covered, but he is going to catch the football. He has very good ball skills. Jacob (August) has really enhanced his game as far as catching the football, but has always been a guy who is strong at the point of attack. Will Register blocks extremely well and we have to continue to bring him along. Evan Hinson needs to improve his blocking, but is a dominant guy in the passing game as far as the athletic things he brings us. Kiel Pollard does a lot of different things for us as far as a guy who catches the ball extremely well but has really developed his game and come on as far as being a c-area blocker. Again, at that position, I feel good about the six guys we got, and the depth we have at the position. We need to continue to bring those guys along. Kyle Markway is healthy for the first time we have been here. We need to keep him healthy, but is a guy who works extremely hard in the weight room, and is a good c-area blocker, and continues to evolve in the passing game.”

 

On Javon Kinlaw shedding weight and what to expect from him this season… “Well I think he has continued to improve himself as a player. The guy has been through an awful lot, as far as going to Goose Creek, going to Jones, battling through that, getting here. Coming in at 340, and working himself to the middle of the year he became a really good defensive tackle. I just think he needs to continue to develop and stay healthy. I challenged him in the offseason to get stronger, and he has gotten stronger. Everything we have challenged him to do, he has done. That is the big thing. Just continuing to understand and to have that knowledge what we do defensively, because I think that always helps you when you have a better understanding of what to do, but whey we do it. He has worked at all of those things, so we are expecting a big year out of him.

 

On what you can learn from guys over the summer process… “Well there is only so much you can do in shorts. You can teach, you can see how a young man retains information. Can he regurgitate the information back to you, so you make sure he does understand it, and have a concept of what we are talking about. We can take them through drills and things we do to try and simulate the game as much as we can. As much as anything, finding out how a guy learns, and if he is able to retain the information day-to-day from what we have talked about the day before and hard how he is able to work the next day. So I think there are challenges that we try and give them during those times we are able to meet with them in the summer and see how they learn. I think seeing some of the guys, I am very pleased with it.”

 

On if Shameik Blackshear can take big steps this season… “Yeah, we need him to contribute for us on the defensive line. For us to be able to play Keir Thomas on the inside and outside, Shameik is a guy that’s got to develop for us to play defensive end for us. I thought he has made good strides for us and will continue to.”

 

On if T.J. Brunson takes over the playmaking role… “I thought he played pretty good last year. Dang, take another shot at my guy. You guys are out today, huh? T.J. played well for us last year. T.J. made all the calls for us last year. T.J., you could say was the vocal leader last year and is again this year. He has played really good football for us, and has the right kind of demeanor and mentality that I want at the mike linebacker. A guy that is extremely bright, smart, practices the right way, positively effects the guys around him and I have been very pleased with T.J. and his leadership and development since he has been here at South Carolina. I’m expecting a big year from him.”

 

On how adjusting to recruiting in season with early recruiting period… “I don’t think it matters if I like it or not. It is here to stay. It is, what it is. We had some spring visits that went fine, and that is part of where we are now. I think the recruiting calendar has moved up and decisions are being made earlier. I think it tough for the dead period in July because you don’t get them four days before August 1st and then it is dead again. So now, if you didn’t get them on campus in late-July or June, you don’t see a guy again until September 1st which is difficult. I think the official visits, you try to make them as effective, based on the prospect. Guys from further away, I want them to experience Williams-Brice Stadium, that is one of the attractions of playing here, while still being able to experience our academic environment, our spiritual development, all of those things to still be able to do on an official visit. If a young man is closer to here, I would rather wait until December or January to official him then, because they can come to as many games as they want to. So I think it all is based on the prospect and based on what we think, and what the prospect thinks and the family and maybe the people helping him make the decision on when it is the best time to bring them on campus. I don’t like officials during the season as much, because I don’t get to spend as much time with them. I’m a little concerned with a little thing that is happening on Saturday afternoon. So I think it is tougher during the season, but we make it work, and our staff does a really good job adjusting to those visits.”

 

On what camp will separate from others at the end of the season… “Well I think just the day-to-day focus. Daily focus on meetings, daily focus on walkthroughs, daily focus on practice, improving every single day, the positive mindset of coming to practice every day to improve. Those are all things that are intangible qualities that good teams have. Good teams understand how to compete, and how to practice the right way. We are going to talk about our practice tempos tonight and how we practice. I think that is essentially important to understand you can’t be on the ground. I mean all those things to me, are really important to have the kind of team you want to have. Those are the characters we look for.”

On how much further along they are from last year… “Well we are a lot better than we were our first year, that isn’t even comparable. We have made tremendous progress and we have better players in our program and at the end of the day recruiting is the lifeblood of your program. That is the most important thing you do. It is three-pronged. The evaluation process of it, it is the recruitment and then the development. I think our staff does a great job at developing guys when they get on our campus. I think that has been pretty evident to see each year, each young player is playing at a high level. That says a lot about our staff and the commitment of the young man. We have made progress, and I’m excited about his football team, I mean I see a lot of the intangible qualities that you need to have to have a good team. Does that mean we are going to have a good team? No. We have to have a good training camp. That is what we are focused on right now.”

 

On changing things up from last year… “There’s some different things you want to tweak every year. When you go through your tape from the previous season, you evaluate – my whole deal with our coaching staff is put the guys in situations to be successful. If the guy can’t cover a bucket of water, we don’t even play man-to-man. That’s not very smart in my opinion. We’ve got to put the guys in situations to be successful. I think the evaluation of our players by our staff, the evaluations of our scheme and what we’re doing. Are we putting the guys in the best situation to be successful? We’ve tweaked here and there on both ends of the special teams. I look at practice wise of what we’re doing – is it taking advantage to help our football team be the best it can be. If it’s changing up some periods of how we do things, then that’s what we’ll do. I think you’ve got to continue to evolve and self-evaluate all the time and be willing to get out of the need to be right. You don’t have to be right all the time. I’ve got a very good staff. They’re not a bunch of ‘yes’ guys. They’re willing to tell you, ‘We need to look at this another way.’ Now, I’ve got a much different perspective than they do because I’m looking at the big picture. I’m not just looking at it from an offensive perspective or a defensive perspective. I’m looking at what’s going to help out football team. Again, I think you take input from your staff and the people you trust.”

 

On #SpursUp… “My wife came up with Spurs Up. We were in the Big 12 and everybody has a hand signal. They’ve got a saying. She said, ‘We need one here.’ We wanted to have a way to let our fan base know that a young man wanted to be at South Carolina. We came up with that, it was her idea, and we’ve run with that. I think the people, especially Gamecock fans, are excited whenever they see that.”

 

On avoiding leading tackles with the crown of the helmet… “For the most part, having played the game, there’s sometimes it just happens. It’s a bang bang play and it’s a very difficult call for the officials to make. They’re always going to err on the side of safety, which they should. We don’t talk in terms of involving the head in any tackling we do. We try and take the head out of the game. Everybody used to talk about get your head across the bow. We don’t involve the head with tacking anymore. It’s more about leverage now. What your leverage is, take advantage of your leverage, and keep your leverage.”

 

On the defensive line… “We talked about Javon (Kinlaw) a little earlier and he has been a good inside player for us. Keir Thomas gives us a lot of position multiplicity from a guy that can play in, play tackle, play nose. Keir’s up to about 280 now, but he’s gotten stronger. He’s in good shape. I like where he is. Kobe Smith I thought had a really good spring. That guy really developed himself and is a very dependable guy. Aaron Sterling had a fantastic freshman year for us. He played extremely well, especially late in the year. Shameik Blackshear continues to make strides. He needs to be a guy that gets more snaps for us this year. Dennis (D.J.) Wonnum can play the Buck and end for us and give us a lot of position variety there. Bryson Allen-Williams is probably our best edge rusher. It really hurt us last year when we lost Bryson. We lost a lot of speed of the edge and a guy that can really threaten a tackle with speed. He’s a guy coming back that will play the sam and the buck for us. Danny Fennell played an outstanding game against Michigan in the Outback Bowl – made a bunch of plays for us. Brad Johnson. A guy that started for us last year in some games. All of those guys that have been here, we’re excited about. The younger guys, I want to see them develop in camp. Some of them were here in the spring with us. Tyreek Johnson, (Kingsley) Enagbare did some nice things. We’ll continue to see which of those can develop and help our football team.”

 

On how Marcus Lattimore can help the program out… He helps our program every single day. He has as much an impact on each young man in our program that myself or any of our assistant coaches have. His presence in our program since he’s been here has been as strong as a presence as any assistant coach I’ve ever hired as far as the positive influence he’s had on our program. He makes a difference in our program every single day. He is walk-the-walk as far as the good time, the tough times. He’s been in the hallways; he’s be on the campus. There’s no one that can talk in terms of being a Gamecock better than Marcus Lattimore can. When your players walk up to you and say, ‘Thank you for hiring Marcus Lattimore,’ that says a lot to me about the impact he’s making on their lives. He makes a difference in our program every single day.

 

On what’s next for D.J. Wonnum… “D.J. is really challenging to improve his strength. When you get separation, some of the 300 plus pound guys that have more girth on them, to be able to hold the point of attack, continuing to work on those things, work on space coverage with him – I think one of our best personnel groupings will be regular with Bryson at Sam and D.J. at the Buck position. We’ll be able to have two hard edges with two big guys, physical, violent guys on the edges. I think it’s going to be good for us that we can set better edges on the perimeter throw game as far as the bubbles and quick screens and such. Those are things he’s worked on in the off-season program to continue to take the next step as a player.”


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