WATCH: Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference included select players with Transcript
Oct. 08, 2019
WILL MUSCHAMP TRANSCRIPT
- You all ready? You ready? S'cuse me, Steve. Don't apologize. Georgia noon kick in Athens' Sanford Stadium Coach Dooley Field. Really glad they finally honored coach Dooley for what he did for college athletics and college football, not just as a head football coach, but also as athletic director in the University of Georgia in the Southeastern Conference. It's well deserved and I'm happy for him. Georgia's got a really good football team. You start at quarterback, Jake Fromm, is completing right about 80% of his passes. I think he was 24 of 29 Saturday night. Very accurate with the football. A lot of command in what they do offensively. Obviously, he's had a lot of turns and reps, but just an overall really good football player. Offensive line's big and athletic. They've allowed one sack all year and I think 18 negative plays in five games, which is, as much as they run the football, is pretty remarkable, but very athletic and big up front. Receivers are seniors, Simmons, and Cager's been a good pickup for him, a graduate transfer, is a bigger guy. Some of the back shoulder balls and things, does a really nice job, but they're young at receiver, but very talented, Pickens, and those guys are really talented guys, and of course, the backs are outstanding, Swift and Herring and White and Cook are all very talented guys in the back field, do a good job of getting those guys the ball in some different ways. Defensively, very deep and talented. On the front seven, they play a lot of guys up front, and roll guys in there, play hard, play tough, play physical, but two guys that jump out at me is the two safeties, Reed and LeCounte are really good football players. They erase a lot of things, tackle well in space, make a lot of communication, obviously, in what they do defensively, and those guys do a really nice job. A really talented specialist, Blankenship's been there a long time, and the punter's a really good player, and then they got really good team speed and returner. So, got a really good football team. Injury-wise, Rico Dowdle, Dakereon Joyner, and Randrecous Davis all practiced today and we expect them to play on Saturday. Other than that, we're about status quo from where we've been. We will get Kevin Harris back at the end of the year. He's progressing extremely well off of his surgery, and we'll get him back at the end of the season, so I'll open it up for any questions.
- [Monderator] Raise your hand and we'll get a mic brought to you.
- [Reporter] Will, how much does it help to be coming off a really good game, rushing the football with Rico and Tavien going against a defense like Georgia, who I don't think they've allowed a rushing TD all year.
- No, they haven't. No, I think that that obviously gives you confidence. You go to Missouri and don't run the ball really well, and they did a nice job with some things, and we weren't as effective as we need to be, and then we rushed the ball well against Kentucky. So, brings you some more confidence and we ran the ball well against Alabama, and we've just been inconsistent, obviously, in the one game against Missouri of running the football.
- [Moderator] Back of the room.
- [Reporter] Will, when you can run the ball like that, a couple weeks ago against Kentucky, is that more of a mindset or is that a scheme or kind of a combination of both?
- I think it's a combination of a lot of things. I think, schematically, number one. I think it's a mindset of physicality and what you want to be, and that's what we want to be. We want to be able to run the football and stay balanced offensively. I think it's really important to have balance offensively, because when you get too one-dimensional in our league against the schedule we have, it's going to be very difficult to move the football if you're just running it all the time or throwing it all the time. So, to be able to create balance is really important, and that's something we want to be able to do, but I think there's a lot of things that go into it. The physicality of the game, you got to have talented runners because you're not going to be able to put a hat on a hat on everybody in the run game. Guys have got to be able to run through contact, make a guy miss. So, those are all things that I think figure in to being successful and running the ball. Obviously, scheme-wise you got to be right in your numbers and things and those things certainly help.
- [Reporter] Will, you mentioned balance, but just from an identity standpoint, is being able to do what you guys did against Kentucky, is that a better indication of what your offense is trying to do?
- Well again, I think that, certainly, number one, to help Ryan, as a young player at that position, to be able to run the football helps an awful lot, so you don't get into a one-dimensional, you change the launch point for the quarterback and those sort of things, so I think that's really important, but that's something, we want to be balanced. That's what we want to be able to do, and then going on the road, especially in this sort of game, you need to be able to have some balance in the run game.
- [Reporter] Coach, how do you feel like you guys performed against the open weekend? Do you feel like it gives you guys some momentum going into this week?
- Well, I was pleased. Tuesday, I thought we had a good practice, not so much on Wednesday and a little better on Thursday. We needed to have some better attention to detail and focus. We didn't have that. I was pleased with today's practice though.
- [Reporter] I think you talked going into the bye about the defense needing to limit explosive plays a little bit more. Just, what kind of goes into that and do you feel like you've made progress?
- Well, we'll find out Saturday, Collyn, but we went back and just looked at our first five ball games and whether it was an error, could've been in all three areas, whether it was upfront at the linebacker or in the secondary. Was it a busted assignment? Are we doing too much? There's a lot of different questions you answer, or ask, when you look at those sort of things. Is that a coaching issue? Is that a scheme issue? Is that a player issue? So, those are all things that we kind of tried to help minimize those things moving forward, and the bottom line is we need to be more consistent defensively. We've done some really good things at times, and we haven't done 'em enough, and so, those are things we, Collyn, we've got to go back and just be a more consistent football team overall, but you specifically asking about the defense, we need to be more consistent.
- [Reporter] Will, with Jaylen Nichols, when you first started recruiting him, what did you see in him? What made you think that he would be a guy to be able to contribute immediately?
- Well, athletic. You don't ever know about contributing immediately till you get 'em here, but just very athletic, very powerful for a big guy, gets his hands on ya, can move people, and is athletic enough to block the edge in our league, but then when you get a guy on campus, he was very mature in how he handles himself, he's extremely bright and he can learn. So, those are all things you start to look for. He handles tough coaching, which is obviously, at that position, you've got to be able to manage and handle, and I think a lot of that goes back to maturity. A lot of times, playing as a freshman, you need to have an opportunity, you need to have ability, but so much of it, to me, goes into how mature you are and how you handle it, 'cause generally, young players always hit the wall at some point, and he's been a guy that's continued to work and progress and has put himself in a position to be a productive player for us.
- [Moderator] Josh.
- [Reporter] How do you defend the back shoulder throw?
- Well, it's very difficult. Generally, there's a move area down the field that you try to identify, whether that's at 14, whether it's at 16, whether it's at 18, and generally, the ball's being thrown to the back of the defender's helmet, as far as those things. It's got to be something you've got to really work on from a quarterback and receiver standpoint, but we work and we talk in terms of playing the ball in phase. So, if this was the receiver and I wanted to be able to play the ball in phase, and the ball's being thrown over his shoulder, then I'd want to be able to look and lean, and as long as I'm playing the ball, it's not passed interference on most Saturdays, as long as I've got a lean and I press the receiver, I can play the ball. Well, if you look and play the ball in phase, and they're throwing a back shoulder ball, you're going to look and you're going to keep running, the ball's going to be completed behind you. So, when you play a team that plays a back shoulder, you've got to be able to play the ball out of phase, and be able to play through the receiver. So, if you feel the receiver falling away from you as you start to look and lean, then you've got to be able to play through your back to your left hand if you're facing the receiver that way. Does that make sense what I'm saying? So, if he falls away from you, you've got to be able to play the ball what we would say out of phase. You're not in phase with the receiver anymore on a back shoulder ball, and play through it, and you got to be able to get an elbow down.
- [Reporter] Who was the first team you remember throwing that?
- Man, it's been a long time. The guys have done that for a while. So, I don't know I'd be able to tell you the first person.
- [Moderator] Go to Pete.
- [Reporter] Will, how was Ryan's progress in the off week? And did he have a chance to kind of reset after getting thrown in maybe earlier than he expected?
- Well, I think he's done really well. Obviously, he would've love to have played better in Missouri, but I think he's handled the situation and the circumstances extremely well, and he's progressed well, he's practiced well, he's taken all the reps, and I think, again, the more turns in reps you get, the more better you're going to improve and he certainly is a guy that's worked extremely hard to put himself in this position to play well, and we expect for him to play well.
- [Moderator] Collyn.
- [Reporter] Just one more technical question. I think you mentioned on the teleconference, the pin and pull run scheme's been pretty effective for you guys. What goes in? Why do you feel that's been effective for you all as a personnel? Is it just the scheme and the way you run it?
- Well, I think it's probably a little bit schematically, but we're more athletic up front. You've got to have guys that are athletic pullers and that can block guys in space, 'cause it's easier said than done as far as when you're pulling and you weigh over 300 pounds and you're blocking, generally, a guy that's moving in space. How many times do you see on a screen an offensive lineman that just completely whiff a guy in space? Well, you got to be athletic to do that, and I think we've recruited well up front. Our guys are more athletic. They're able to anchor in contact, in space on people, and that's been just something that's been productive for us.
- [Moderator] Reggie.
- [Reporter] You mentioned before the coaches you've worked for have helped mold you who you are. What about your time at Georgia? How did that lay the foundation for your career as a head coach?
- Well, I had a great experience. I enjoyed it probably too much there in my time in college there, but I had a great experience. Coach Goff, I still get texts from Coach Goff to this day. Steve Dennis, Richard Bell, Dickie Clark, all of those guys, Coach McClendon, Bryan's dad. All of those guys have had a huge. Darryl Drake, God rest his soul, all had a huge impact on my life, and Mac McWhorter. It goes on and on, about all of those men that had a huge impact on my life, and probably directed me to want to get into coaching, and I appreciate everything they did for me.
- [Reporter] I guess to go back to the pin and pull thing for a second. What is that ask of younger guards and does that speak to their progress that they're able to handle that and be such fulcrums in that scheme?
- Well, I think, as much as anything, what I've learned over the years is find you some runs that you like and you feel like you can execute and you can block versus three down, you can block versus four down, you can block versus pressure, and that's just something over the period of time since we've been here that we've felt comfortable with. It's no different than we go into a game and talk to Ryan about what routes, what combinations do you feel comfortable with, and I think that those are things that our guys have repped a lot, have repped a lot versus our defense and repped a lot versus three down, versus four down, versus pressure, and we have answers when things aren't going well with it, so I think we've just gotten very comfortable in that scheme, and that's been something we've been productive with.
- [Moderator] In the back, Mike.
- [Reporter] Coach, you talked about Georgia having a big impact on your life, but when you go back there, obviously you didn't do it at all much with Florida, 'cause that game is in Jacksonville, but when you have to go back there now, how much nostalgia is involved for you?
- Not a lot. I'm worried about the ball game and winning, so don't really think too much about it. I've really only been back to Georgia one time at LSU, one time at Auburn, and one time at South Carolina in my coaching career. I think as a GA, maybe at Auburn, two different times at Auburn, so I think four times since 1994 have I even been back to Athens, other than I've been recruiting there a couple of times, but no, we had a great experience.
- [Moderator] Rick.
- [Reporter] Will, you mentioned young players and hitting the wall when you have an off week, like at mid-season. Is it more beneficial to the younger guys to help them with that wall?
- Well, not getting ready for a game, and you kind of go back into training camp mode and looking at some different things maybe you haven't seen during the season and I want to expose our guys to some different things, work on some things we need to work on, but also get them ready for some things we're going to see down the road, as far as some other opponents are concerned, not just worried about Georgia, but I do think it's helpful for those guys to decompress. We had a lift on Friday and worked out, and then they were able to have Saturday off and really Sunday, for the most part, off, and then we had a walkthrough yesterday, so to be able to get away from it a little bit, I think is good, especially for young players, but it's good for everybody.
- [Reporter] With Rico, coach, being able to see him take his game to the next level this year, how much of that do you think has been created from just the competition that's been created in that running back room?
- Well, I think that competition helps you and when you have a deep, talented roster, and that's what we're building to, and it takes time, it's frustrating at times, but ass on bench, it's the best motivator we've got, and I say it all the time. They all want to play, and they all want to be out there, and they all want to start, and they all want to be on the field, so there's no question, competition is a great motivator for us. We're not all self-starters as players. They all want to be on the field and start, and that's just the way it is. So, I think that certainly, that position, we've done a nice job there as far as the competition's concerned. You've got three seniors that are all very capable guys that can do a really nice job for us, but Rico's always been a very talented guy and has always worked pretty hard. He's just always had a history of some injuries and some things that have set him back.
- [Reporter] Will, you mentioned enjoying your time at Georgia. Who won the majority of the golf matches between you and Eric Zeier?
- Eric won 'em all. I wasn't very good at golf, so I didn't. He won a bunch.
- [Moderator] John.
- [Reporter] You mentioned a few weeks back that when the right time came with talking with Keir Thomas and his family about redshirting, that you would do that. What's his progress like? And is that a conversation you think you might have to approach?
- Yeah, John. Well actually, he and I sat down about a week ago and just had a conversation. We're still working through some things. He is working out, he's moving around well. We got to get him in shape 'cause we really had to shut him down through that time when they discovered the infection, and he's been shut down for about a month and a half. So, he started back working out I want to say about a week and a half ago. We sat down and had a discussion and whenever they decide to clear him, we're going to have another conversation about what we need to do moving forward, and he's in good spirits and as frustrating as it's been for him, and us, and everybody, he's working his butt off and trying to get back to where he can play.
- [Reporter] It seems like with Georgia, they managed to generate a really strong, powerful downhill running game despite not necessarily going with a lot of 21 or 12 personnel. Is there something schematic that goes into that, or is a lot of that you just have the personnel and you go from there?
- They're really talented at running back and they're really talented on their offensive line, and they got a quarterback that gets 'em in and out of the right run schemes. So, when you mix all that together, that mixes for a pretty good run game.
- [Moderator] Collyn.
- [Reporter] I see the glasses. I know it's a noon game, but are you planning on wearing those again?
- I think I'm going to have to.
- [Reporter] Your one and only.
- Yeah. I had to put the ego on the shelf on these, but my wife's going to buy me a different pair she said.
- [Reporter] Have you decided what kind?
- What's that?
- [Reporter] Have you decided what kind of glasses?
- I don't know. That's her decision. I'm not going that far.
- [Moderator] Anything else for coach? Mike at the back.
- [Reporter] With the relationship with Kirby, do you guys still run the same sort of defensive principles? Is it different now after all of these years?
- No, I think there's a lot of carry over. I think philosophically, that's the one thing that when you are like minded with other coaches and you believe some of the same beliefs as far as how you want to play, how you want to play up front and how you want to coach things, and I think there's a lot of carry over between that, but there's been a lot of time and separation that we've actually coached together back at LSU in, I think, 2004, but I think philosophically, there's a lot of like-minded ideas.
- [Reporter] How do you coach quarterbacks to deal with slant routes, especially in the era of the RPO taking away that inside help defender a lot of the time?
- In man coverage?
- [Reporter] Yeah, man coverage.
- Well in man coverage, you need to cover the man, and that's where we've made some mistakes this year. We've got our eyes back on the quarterback. It's hard to play man to man when you're staring at the quarterback, so you just play your normal techniques, whether you're in press man or you're in some sort of off man and whatever techniques that we're coaching you to do, you got to be able to cover your man, work yourself in phase where that means you can touch the receiver, and then re-back and try to play the ball, and that's how we talk in terms of those things.
- [Moderator] John.
- [Reporter] Have you all noticed defenses focusing on Shi Smith a little bit more? Has he found it tougher to get open?
- Well, that's one of the things. We go into every game, as far as touches for Shi and Bryan, we feel like two guys that can make plays for us, and we've got to continue to explore more ways to find ways where we can get him the football. We had a really good play going into the Kentucky game, and then the running game was working so well. We got away from it a little bit. I think we hit him on a boot early in the game going into the scoreboard side, but we'll continue to explore ways where we've got to get him the ball. There's no question that he and Bryan need touches in the game.
- [Moderator] Anything else for coach? Are we good?
- Alrighty. Thank you.
- Thanks, Will.
- Thank you.
Injury report 3 veterans back from injury also possible freshman could return by year’s end
Gamecock freshman tailback Kevin Harris was done for the season. Now it appears he’s not. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said the Georgia product, who has surgery to repair a torn ligament, will be able to return to the field by the end of the year. Muschamp also said a trio of players, Rico Dowdle, Dakereon Joyner, Randrecous Davis practiced Tuesday and are expected to play on Saturday against UGA. Dowdle tweaked an ankle against Kentucky. Joyner missed the game with a hamstring issue.
Will a former Gamecocks starter redshirt? Where those conversations stand
Keir Thomas’ career. Will he redshirt
One conversation has already taken place. Another will to determine the next steps in Keir Thomas’ career. The Gamecocks veteran has been sidelined for South Carolina’s first five football games because of an infection after ankle surgery. Sit out four or five more, and he’ll have the chance to come back next year as a fifth-year senior.
Muschamp update Thomas’ recovery progress on Tuesday. This is what he said on his possibilities. “He and I sat down about a week ago and just had a conversation. We’re still working through some things. He is working out. He’s moving around well, and then we got to get him in shape. We really had to shut him down through that time when they had when they discovered the infection and he’s been shut down for about a month and a half. So he started back working out. I want to say about a week and a half ago
“Whenever they decide to clear him, we’re going to have another conversation about what we need to do moving forward.” Muschamp had floated the idea of a redshirt for Thomas, and Travaris Robinson had talked about wanting him back for the stretch run. Thomas started 23 games across 2017 and 2018. He was seventh on the team with 44 tackles in 2018, plus 4 1/2 for loss and 1 1/2 sacks.