Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference With Videos Coach & Selected Players Plus Notes & Quotes
Sept. 18, 2018
"We play Vanderbilt in Nashville at 4 o'clock on SEC Network Saturday, Derek Mason has got a really good football team. I watched them last week go to Notre Dame. They turned the ball over three times – one on the 1-yard line going in to score, another an interception in the end zone. They played extremely well in that football game.
"Offensively, Kyle Shurmur is a four-year starter (and) an outstanding player. He's a guy you gain a lot of respect for when you watch the tape, how he orchestrates and runs the offense. They have a lot of confidence in him and how he runs the team. He does an outstanding job. (They have) four quality backs in (Ke'Shawn) Vaughn, (Khari) Blasingame, (Jamauri) Wakefield and (Josh) Crawford. They're all very capable. They use them two-at-a-time at times. They're quality backs. (Kalija) Lipscomb, the receiver, is a really good player – obviously their go-to guy on the perimeter. (Jared) Pinkney, the tight end, is a guy we've faced for the last three years and has been a very effective player for them.
"Defensively, they've got a new defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, whose known Derek for a long time. What you see is a lot of experience and aggressive play and an aggressive style of how they call the game. They have seven seniors starting on defense, so they've got a lot of experience and guys we've faced throughout the years. They do a really good job on teams.
"Our guys are looking forward to getting out on the field. Obviously, last Wednesday we canceled the Marshall game. Our guys responded with an outstanding practice on Thursday and a very competitive practice. We lifted Friday and gave them Saturday off. We came back and had a Tuesday-like practice Sunday night, which I was very pleased with. Now we're into our normal game week. (They had) Monday off, and they practiced this morning. They did a nice job."
On the focus and energy at practice last week after the cancelation of the Marshall game
"(It was) really good. I told the guys that it will be a distraction if you allow it to be. At the end of the day, it's a very sad, tragic situation. It's awful, but there's nothing we can do about it. We're going to control what we can control, and that's our preparation. Thursday was an outstanding practice. Friday was a good lift in the weight room. (The cancellation) gave our coaches a chance to start working on Vanderbilt. Then I thought we had a very good practice Sunday working into today. So I think they've handled it well."
On what he did Saturday without a game to play
"I watched a lot of football. We were prepared for the worst, and we watched a lot ofball. It was very unusual. I can assure you of that. It was just different. It was good to spend the day with Carol, Jackson and Whit. That's kind of what we did at our house, watched a lot of ball. I got nervous before every game, and we weren't even playing. (laughs) I had anxiety before every game, and we weren't even playing. But that's kind of normal."
On guarding against a slow start this Saturday after a week off
"(It's) no different than an open week. We've done a lot of good-on-good work, as much as we could as far as us getting prepared for a very good Vanderbilt team. We got a lot of fastball work, so I feel comfortable about that preparation."
On the possibility of playing
"We've had numerous discussions, Coach (Ray) Tanner and myself, about (October) 20th, obviously our open week, or depending on how our season ends up, December 1st. Once we know a little bit more about where we're headed with that, we'll certainly make that information available."a 12th game after cancelling the Marshall game
On the injury situation heading into the Vanderbilt game
"D.J. (Wonnum) will be the only guy down that's been a (contributor)."
On what he learned watching the Vanderbilt vs. Notre Dame game live that he wouldn't have learned watching coaches' film
"Flow of the game… right now, with so many people, offensively, (using) tempo, what is the flow of the game? How is the game being administered? You get a good feel. Obviously, they play extremely hard. It's easier sometimes to see that when you're watching the TV copy as opposed to maybe a coaches' copy that we see. Those things to me are easy to see."
On what he remembers from the 2016 game at Vanderbilt, his first game and first win as Carolina's head coach
"Elliott Fry, 55 yards (kicking a field goal to win the game). The guys battled in the game. It didn't start out very good with a kickoff return, which we've reminded A.J. Turner about several times. Deebo (Samuel) dropped a punt. We've reminded him a couple of times. We continued to battle in the game. We hit Deebo on the speed sweep to score (a touchdown) and then hit a couple of field goals with Elliott there (kicking) a 55-yarder at the end. It was a huge kick, and I had all the confidence in the world he was going to make it."
On the progress of junior linebacker Daniel Fennell
"Danny is playing well. He made a big sack against Georgia there on the four-man pressure. He is a very steady player (and) continues to improve every year since we've been here. He's a very dependable player. You know what you're going to get out of Danny all the time. He's going to give great effort. You'll get mental and physical toughness in how he approaches the game. I've been extremely proud of him right now with what he's able to do for us. He's our starter at SAM linebacker right now with Dennis (Wonnum) going out and Bryson (Allen-Williams) being basically the primary buck for us right now. I'm really proud of how Danny has played."
On the 2016 victory at Vanderbilt and how it helped in the rebuilding process of the program
"You've got to have some positive reinforcement, and part of that is winning. You can't continue to coach and practice, prepare and work out the way we work out if you don't have the gratification of a victory and feeling that positive reinforcement. That's what you're out there to do, isgo win the game."
On Jamyest Williams and how he's handled his role not starting the game
"He's upset about it, and I'm glad he is. He's a competitor. You don't want a guy to be happy he's not starting. All of them want to be starters and want to play the whole game. He's played as much or more than the guys that are in front of him. That's an evaluation that goes on week-to-week on who's going to help us win the game at the end of the day and the end of the game when the game is ending. That's the most important part."
On the preparation that goes into the first road game for the team's freshmen
"As much as anything, you lean on the older players as far as their experience traveling and understanding that it's a business trip. There's going to be a time you need to focus and dial in. There's a time you can relax when you're on the plane and that sort of thing. Some of these guys will be jumping on a plane for the first time on Friday. That's always interesting."
On the status of redshirt freshman defensive back Jaylin Dickerson
"He missed about 10 days of camp with a hamstring. When a young player missing one day of camp, it's an issue. When you miss eight or 10 days, it's a major issue. It's very hard for a young player to catch up; same with R.J. Roderick. He missed six or eight days with some different issues as far as illness and things are concerned. When a young player misses that much of camp, it's really, really hard to catch them up. We're trying to, and they're both really good, young, talented players. They're going to be good players, but when you miss that much time, especially for a young player that's not played on Saturday, it's very difficult to catch them up. We're doing the best we can, and they're doing the best they can. They're working hard, but right now, we're not into teaching middle-field concepts. We're into teaching game plans. It's very difficult right now to get those guys ready when they've missed that much time, and they've missed a lot of time.
What Muschamp said about ‘numerous discussions’ to replace canceled game
South Carolina football has a pair chances to make up the football game it lost to Hurricane Florence.
How it could do so will be reliant on outside circumstances.
On Tuesday, the South Carolina High School League officially moved its state championships back from the weekend of Dec. 1. That opens up Williams Brice Stadium that weekend for a potential game, as Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner had expected.
And there’s already been conversations about potentially rescheduling.
“We’ve had numerous discussions, coach Tanner and myself about the 20th, obviously is our open week, or depending how our season ends up, Dec. 1,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “Once we know a little bit more about where we’re headed with that, we’ll certainly make that information available.”
Where they’re headed is likely an allusion to the fact the SEC championship game is that day. The Gamecocks are behind the eight-ball in contending for that, as they already have a two-game deficit behind favorite Georgia, owing to a 41-17 loss in Williams-Brice two weeks ago.
But in the short term, South Carolina still considers itself in that race.
Muschamp said publicly he’d prefer not to play on the bye week, which would involve playing 10 consecutive weeks without a break. There also doesn’t appear to be many teams that had games canceled and have the same bye. Both West Virginia and Virginia Tech fit the bill, but their status as Power 5 teams and Tanner’s interest in a home game make that more complicated.
Playing Dec. 1 if USC isn’t in Atlanta opens up some options, since every team that had to cancel and not in a conference title game is in play. If the Thundering Herd can’t top the likes of Florida Atlantic and Florida International in the Conference USA East division, Marshall would be an option for a Dec. 1 make-up date.
Gamecocks: ‘It feels like we haven’t played a game in 75 days’
Javon Kinlaw has no more interest in talking about the Georgia game.
“We can’t really talk about that. I want to talk about Marshall,” South Carolina’s junior defensive tackle said. “I mean, not Marshall. Vanderbilt. I’m a week behind.”
Everyone around the Gamecocks football program is having to orient themselves again this week after an unexpected off weekend due to the cancellation of the Marshall game.
“It was weird. It feels like we haven’t played a game in like 75 days,” Kinlaw said. “I am just ready to get back and play a game. I have never really experienced that before, but I feel like we handled it well as a group.”
The Marshall game was canceled due to potential damage by then-Hurricane Florence. There are no weather concerns this week as South Carolina (1-1) prepares to face Vanderbilt (2-1) in Nashville, Tenn., for its first road game of the season.
“Everybody is hungry,” Gamecocks center Donell Stanley said. “Of course, everybody wanted to play, but we can only control the things we can control. Weather is definitely not one of them. We are hungry right now, and we are practicing like it. Everybody is just ready for Saturday.”
South Carolina has not had an open weekend in September since 2011 when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks canceled games across the country. The Gamecocks coaches and players learned of the cancellation Wednesday, practiced Thursday and had a weight room session Friday before taking Saturday off and returning to their regular game-week preparations with a Sunday evening practice.
“It was a long week, it kind of dragged, but I enjoyed the time off actually,” wide receiver Bryan Edwards said. “Georgia seems so long ago. I’m ready to strap it up and get that taste out of my mouth. We went after each other (in practice). I think we will be ready to go.”
South Carolina treated the schedule like they would any open date as soon as they learned of the cancellation, head coach Will Muschamp said.
“We did a lot of good-on-good work (at practice), as much as we could while preparing for a very good Vanderbilt team,” he said. “We got a lot of fastball work so I feel very comfortable about that preparation.”
Quarterback Jake Bentley compared the team’s mindset to the end of the preseason when “you’re just ready to hit somebody else.”
“We usually only get one weekend off during the season so it was nice,” tailback Rico Dowdle said. “It was nice, but it has been forever. Looking forward to getting out there.”
Will Muschamp asks Gamecocks for Hurricane Florence help
Will Muschamp didn’t wear his regular sport coat to South Carolina’s weekly football news conference on Tuesday. Instead, the Gamecocks head coach wore a dark blue T-shirt with “One Carolina” printed on the front.
“First of all, I just want to send our thoughts and prayers to everyone that’s been affected by Hurricane Florence on the North and South Carolina coasts,” Muschamp said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation that’s still impacting people I think half a million people are without power and flooding is obviously an issue and a very sensitive to what happened here in 2015. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during a very difficult time.”
The “One Carolina” shirts, which feature an outline of North and South Carolina, are made by Palmetto Shirt Co., which has pledged to donate all proceeds from their sale to Habitat for Humanity rebuilding efforts in the two states. The shirts are available for $10 at www.palmettoshirtco.com.
USC also is taking donations for victims of the storm and subsequent flooding. The Gamecocks will collect clothing, food and water at the Rice Athletics Center this week.
South Carolina canceled last week’s game against Marshall due to fears the storm would cause extensive damage to the state’s coastal areas and perhaps even the Midlands. Florence eventually weakened and moved north but has dumped a massive amount of rainfall on parts of both Carolinas, causing extensive flooding.
Will Muschamp Weekly News Conference — 9/18/18
Donell Stanley Media Availability — 9/18/18
OrTre Smith Media Availability — 9/18/18
Javon Kinlaw Media Availability — 9/18/18
Bryan Edwards Media Availability — 9/18/18
Jake Bentley Weekly News Conference — 9/18/18
Rico Dowdle Media Availability — 9/18/18