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Ole Miss Week Football Media Availability
Football  . 

Ole Miss Week Football Media Availability

Gamecocks Take on Rebels in Oxford on Saturday at Noon ET

Opening Statement
“We have Ole Miss there at noon in Oxford (on Saturday). They’re a very explosive offensive football team. Matt Luke, their head football coach, was previously the offensive line coach and they’ve got guys up front that really jump out at you. Obviously, (Greg) Little, the left tackle, is an outstanding player. With (Javon) Patterson, the left guard, and (Sean) Rawlings, the center, they’re probably as good of a left side of the line as we’ve faced. They’re really good up front. Jordan Ta’amu is a quarterback that has tremendous arm talent but does a really good job of hurting you with his legs. They do a really good job of using him situationally in the run game. They’re very effective; he’s completed over 60 percent of his balls and a lot of the balls he’s completing are vertical balls down the field. Scottie Phillips has been a really good addition for them at the running back position, from Jones Junior College, and A.J. Brown is a fantastic player, a guy that is big, strong and physical, can catch the ball off of his body, attacks the football, (and is) one of the better receivers, obviously, in college football. DeMarkus Lodge is an outstanding player. Dawson Knox is a really good tight end that they utilize in the passing game and obviously some in the run game that they do. Really, they’re a very explosive offensive football team.

“Defensively, Benito Jones is probably one of the better players that we’ve played as far as an inside player that’s been a really good player for them. Josiah Coatney is another young man we recruited here, so we know a lot about him. They’ve had some struggles on defense, but Coach (Wesley) McGriff has got them playing extremely hard.

On the team’s currently injury situation
“Injury-wise, Dennis Daley is probably doubtful for this weekend. He did not practice today. He’s in a boot to keep the swelling down, and we’re going to look at him again tomorrow, but I would say he’s probably doubtful. Randrecous Davis and Chad Terrell are day-to-day. J.T. Ibe and Nick Harvey are out.”

On the ways the Gamecocks can combat an explosive offense and if the Ole Miss tempo will lead the Gamecocks to slow their tempo down
“We want to be effective. Whether that’s mixing tempo (or not), I think we have done a good job at playing fast at opportune times in the game. I look at last Saturday night. We had some opportunities to make some plays to get on the ball and play fast, we were when we did that. So that’s something we will continue to do. I think the flow of the game dictates a lot of that. I think Bryan (McClendon) has a very good feel for when we need to play fast and when we don’t. But, that obviously will be discussed on game day.”

On the Ole Miss receiving corps and if it helps the Gamecocks to have faced the Tennessee receivers last week
“Any time young players – when you talk in terms of Jaycee Horn and R.J. Rodrick and Israel (Mukuamu), (they) are all true freshmen – when they have opportunities to play under the lights in front of 80,000 people, you’re always going to make improvements. Their experience is a developmental game. With every snap, the game continues to slow down for them. So there is no doubt about it, the more snaps you get, the more effective you will be. Javon Charleston, all those guys that maybe have not played as much college football, the more snaps they get, the more the game continues to slow down for them. So, it certainly helps.”

On Malik Young’s play after Dennis Daley was injured last week
“Malik played very well. He was our offensive lineman of the week. He came in and really played well and has played good football for us. He will play left tackle, absolutely. He has been a great teammate; he’s worked extremely hard to put himself in the position. I talk to the players all the time about ‘when your number is called, be ready to go and play at a high level.’ He did that. Dennis played the first twelve snaps, and Malik came in and played a really good football game for us.”

On if having a history of coaching in the SEC makes it easier to scheme for SEC opponents
“I don’t know if it’s just in the SEC; I think it’s the experience overall. When you have seen a coordinator before, obviously it gives you good insight into what they like and what they don’t like. We have spent a lot of time over the summer, because they are new. Coach (Wesley) McGriff is in his first time as a coordinator at Ole Miss, and Coach (Phil) Longo as well. Those are guys that we have researched and looked at and see the things they like to do on each side. But it goes back to players at the end of the day, and what they are asking their players to do might be different from Sam Houston or wherever they have been before. We have done some research in the offseason; we spend a lot of time looking at those things to kind of have a book on someone, so when we get to game week, we can go back and reference the things we have seen on film before, and where that fits with this football team that they have right now. So, yes, we spend a lot of time on that, but I don’t know if the lineage of the SEC has anything to do with it.”

On the decision to have Bryan McClendon coach from the sidelines
“(Bryan) came to me after the A&M game. We had not been as productive as we need to be at the receiver position, for whatever reason. It wasn’t that we weren’t getting information to them, or whatever, he just felt like he needed to be on the field with them. Because of the Missouri game situation with the headsets, he called a, I thought, very good game when he was down on the field. It’s all about seeing the game. Can you see the game? If you are able to handle it on the field, because it’s a lot more hectic on the field than it is sitting in a press box. I though he did a really good job the other night calling the game, and he did a really good job against Missouri, so we will continue to move forward as long as we play better at the receiver position and the players seem to be receptive to it. So, that’s what works.”

On D.J. and Dylan Wonnum earning SEC honors in the same week
“Well, both guys are talented players, thank goodness for their mom, Consuela, not the father. Make sure he sees that. (laughs) They are really talented players. Getting D.J. back in his leadership role and I think the intangibles as much as anything help our football team, obviously he is a good, productive player. He gives a lot to our team as far as that. Dylan’s got a huge upside. He’s a really talented guy. To be a massive man and have the athleticism and change of direction and the punch, power, and flexibility of his lower body, it’s just a matter of time before he started to get it and it started to click for him and the game starts to slow down for him, to put him in the situation. But he’s going to be a great player, and he needs to continue to work. D.J. has a great work ethic, and Dylan is a young player that is developing that.”

On the possibility of playing a game December 1
“I can tell you Coach (Tanner) is working harder than you can imagine trying to get it done as soon as possible. It wasn’t like the entirety of college football shut down that weekend. It was really a certain region and only a handful of teams. So, he is working through that right now and spending a lot more time on that than he probably wants to on it. But, we are going to play a game on December 1. Who that will be, I don’t know. I’m hoping within the timeframe of two weeks maybe, but I don’t want to say anything and it becomes two-and-a-half weeks, and all of a sudden, we are panicking. He’s going to handle it and get it done.”

On the strengths of the Ole Miss offense under offensive coordinator Phil Longo
“Up tempo, number one, they play extremely fast. RPO’s, a lot of run/pass options for the quarterback. (They have) multiple route concepts from that, and multiple ways to create one-on-one matchups down the field with very good players and an accurate quarterback. So, the first thing that jumps out is tempo, but I think they run the wall extremely well, they run gap schemes, they obviously have their zone schemes. They mix the run game really well, they’ve got RPO’s off every run action that they have, so you really have to do a good job with your eyes and train your eyes to be in the right spots.”

On the team’s success running the football against Tennessee last week
“Like I said after the game, I felt like our backs, for the first time, made people consistently miss and ran through contact in a league game consistently well, not one or two times. I thought we saw that multiple times in the game. Also, they play a lot of split-safety coverage because of our receivers. So, they wanted to roll up, and they were short a hat at times in the box. We’ve done a good job in the run game of getting a hat on a hat, and we had favorable run boxes in the game, more than we anticipated going into the game, so I think those two things attributed (to our success) more than anything else.”

On the reasons Jake Bentley has had success when the Gamecocks are trailing
“I don’t know that I’ve got a good answer for that. It’s something we’ve talked about as a staff and maybe (have) some adjustments that we’ll see moving forward this week. Again, we’ve exhausted this a lot. I don’t know that it’s all on one person. I think it’s unfair to say it’s because of one person. He plays extremely well in pressure situations, but other people have to play well too, so I don’t know that it’s one person. I would say offensively, what do we need to do to improve, to have better starts to games? That’s something we’ve discussed, and maybe (we have) some adjustments we’ll look at Saturday.”

On the SEC schedule, in which some league opponents only play once every seven years
“It’s hard when you expand, when you expand to the larger conferences or divisions. It’s just harder and harder. There are a lot of people that are clamoring for certain rivalries to never come out of our league, which I agree with. I’m an SEC guy. I’ve been in this league a long time. I’m a traditionalist. There are certain rivalries that need to remain intact. When you expand, though, this happens. We don’t have Nebraska-Oklahoma anymore. That was a great game. You think back to all of the great games, but that’s part of the expansion. Then you get into the argument of scheduling, and do we need to be a nine (game conference) schedule league? Do we need to have a rotator? Do we need to rotate two? We’ve got some people who don’t agree on what the divisions should be. That’s what Commissioner Sankey and his staff are in charge of, and I’ll let them handle that.”

On the effect that the offense’s success in the run game has on the defense
“It helps tremendously. There’s no doubt that – number one – rest time is conserved. (You’re) able to keep your feet back underneath you. Whether it’s running the ball or an explosive play, the emotional charge, the psychological charge it can give a football team, not just the defense, but the entire football team (is important). The positive impact it can have for your team to be able to hit the big play over the top, to be able to run the ball effectively, there’s no question it helps your team.”

On the success Mon Denson had late in the Tennessee game after battling hamstring issues much of the season
“He deserved the opportunity because of the way he practiced. He’s had a tough time with the hamstring. It’s been frustrating for him. It’s frustrating for us on special teams as well. We haven’t been able to really get him back on (special) teams. He hasn’t been able to rep as much, but we felt good about his preparation at the running back position, and given the opportunity, you’ve got to produce. I tell our guys all the time: ‘when your number’s called, you’ve got to produce.’ And he produced extremely well, and it gave us more and more confidence to give him some more opportunities.”

On the preparation that goes into kicking a game off at noon
“Our guys are in the building at 6 a.m., while you guys are still sleeping. They’re having breakfast at 6. We have meetings that start at 7. I had a leadership group meeting at 6:45 this morning. Everybody is early. Everybody is there. Everybody is getting ready to go, so that’s what we do every single day. The best feeling that I have on game day for a noon kick is when we’re in pregame meal and there’s a lot of noise, because our guys are up, and they’re ready to go. But we’re like that every day, so that’s a good thing. That’s an advantage we should have.”

On the ways the defense prepares for an up-tempo offense
“We do tempo periods every day against our offense. That’s part of our preparation for this game, but the more and more you rep something, the more comfortable you become with it. Tempo started back when I was a coordinator at LSU. It was a problem. They went fast, and you weren’t used to it. Back then, we used to actually huddle on defense and had a guy call the defense, then clap the hands and break the huddle. We haven’t huddled now for I couldn’t tell you how many years, so it’s just what you see every day is what you become comfortable with. It’s a ‘spot the ball’ mentality. You need to be running back to where the ball is or to where your position is going to be to the ball. You’ve got to get your eyes to the sideline. You’ve got to get the call. There is no ‘I didn’t get the call.’ Then you’ve got to communicate the call, especially to the guys on the far sideline from our bench. Those are all things that we talk to our guys about, but the biggest thing to me is having a ‘spot the ball’ mentality. There is no celebration. The ball is down, and you ae running back to your position to get aligned, to get your eyes in the right spot, to get the call. The quicker you get the call and the quicker you compute the call, the better you’re going to have your eyes in your assignment and alignment and your responsibility of what you need to do to execute.”