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Charleston Southern Week Football Media Availability
Football  . 

Charleston Southern Week Football Media Availability

Gamecocks Open Home Slate Saturday at Noon on SEC Network Against Buccaneers

Head Coach Will Muschamp Quotes

Opening Statement
“Got Charleston Southern here – good to get back to Williams-Brice (Stadium), noon kick on Saturday, the home opener. It’s certainly exciting to get back in front of our fan base. I appreciate how they traveled to Charlotte. They were outstanding. I wish we had been better. Charleston Southern’s head coach is Autry Denson. He was a great player at Notre Dame and coached the last four or five years at Notre Dame. It’s his first year as a head coach there (at Charleston Southern). Offensively they’re a spread team, so a lot of RPOs (run-pass option) and they spread the ball out a good bit. Defensively, they’re more of a four-down (linemen). They play some three-down (linemen), quarters coverage. They’re shutdown school wise, so they’re in Charlotte. They’re going to bus to Columbia every day and practice in our indoor, use the Dodie (Academic Enrichment Center) to eat lunch and dinner every night. They’re going to use the Crews Facility for all their film work, use our indoor for walk-throughs and use our weight room to lift. Certainly want to be able to help these guys out in a very difficult situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is in the path of the storm. Now going into our fourth year, that’s two situations in the fall where we’ve dealt with this. We’ll do anything we can do to help – hate they have to go through this. (I) appreciate coach (Ray) Tanner and George Wynn who have really worked hard to help Charleston Southern out in this situation to make this work. I think everything is on point and on time for Saturday at this time, but as you guys know, you never know how this thing will manifest itself moving forward. We’ll continue to track that. If we have any updates, I’m sure coach Tanner will put anything out for you. Injury report, Jake Bentley has a midfoot sprain, which is commonly referred to as a Lisfranc. He will be out and extended period of time. He’s still under medical evaluation. I’ll know more in the later part of the week exactly whether he needs surgery. If he needs surgery, it’s going to be a season-ending injury. If not, it’s six or eight weeks. But again, I don’t want to comment much further than that right now because I don’t know a lot more than that until we continue to get another evaluation. I hurt for Jake. It’s his senior year, and he’s given a lot to this program. He’s an outstanding young man – exactly how you want someone to represent the University of South Carolina and I just hurt for him in this time. OrTre (Smith) and Randrecous (Davis), I think I’ll know more tomorrow, but I would expect them to play. Both guys worked out with our medical staff and did some things on the field today. Aaron Sterling has a little swelling on the knee that he had surgery on, but he should play. He did not practice today, but I certainly believe he’ll practice tomorrow. We’ve made a couple changes on the offensive line. Jordan Rhodes right now would play left guard for us entering the game. Donell (Stanley) will bump back to center. Hank (Manos) will still be in the mixture there. We need to get Jovaughn Gwyn more snaps there at right guard as far as that’s concerned. Secondary-wise, we’re getting J.T. Ibe back at safety which will help us, and A.J. Turner at corner will help us with some more depth there.”

On when the injury to Jake Bentley occurred
“I believe it was on the last play of the game. It was on the new side there at the middle of the field, and he slipped. Generally the Lisfranc comes from someone landing on you or the turf, and he slipped on the side there. That’s when he was hurt. He told Clint (Haggard) after the game there. I stayed here, and then Clint came into my office about 10:30-11 in the morning and said ‘I think there’s going to be an issue with Jake here.’ We got an MRI, and we didn’t get the results back until Sunday night. That’s when we realized that there was an issue.”

On if Ryan Hilinski will be the starter
“Ryan will be the starter and Dakereon (Joyner) will play. Dakereon’s role really hasn’t changed since over a week and a half ago. He’s still going to play some quarterback snaps. We’ve got some things that he’ll do there. He’ll also continue to play wideout. Ryan will be the starter, and I’ve got all the confidence in the world he’ll do an outstanding job. He’s prepared himself for this opportunity. Man down, man up – that’s our mentality. That’s the way we’re moving forward.”

On the message to Dakereon Joyner losing the backup battle and now being thrust back into that role
“That role to me hasn’t really changed. There’s nothing that’s really changed with him. He’s been repping at quarterback even after the decision that Ryan was going to be the backup going into the game. Because we still have some things where we feel like Dakereon can help us offensively. That role has really sort of maintained as far as that’s concerned and will certainly continue to enhance itself because I think he did a good job on Saturday.”

On holding Dakereon back from playing receiver if he’s going to possibly play some quarterback because of the mental strain it could be
“Mentally, he’s fine. He’ll handle it all. He’s very bright, very intelligent. He really has embraced the role. We’re excited about it.”

On the problems from the North Carolina game along the offensive line that led to changes
“Well, I think as much as anything, we got too much push in the middle. That made it very difficult to step up in the pocket, difficult to get the ball going further down the field, which we had planned to do going into the game. It throws you off rhythm as far as the routes and things like that are concerned in the passing game, as well as in the running game. We ran the ball well in the first half. In the second half, the first run that Rico (Dowdle) hit for a first down – after that, we didn’t have much production running the football. A lot of it was some issues inside.”

On what the offense has to do to be more explosive
“We called 17 shots down the field. We do a pretty extensive quality control and self-evaluation of what we need to do to improve and get better. I came in on Sunday and one of the first questions I asked to our offensive staff was that we need to attack the field vertically. So you go back and you look at it, we had 17 calls where the primary read was a vertical read down the field. With that being said, protection breaks down, the route is covered, which changes the coverage and changes the read obviously. But there were 17 shots called in the game. Not to say that they all were thrown because of different reasons that I just went through. We’ve got two guys that have been very effective in training camp in Bryan (Edwards) and Shi (Smith). And they’ve got to touch the ball more. We need to get more touches to those guys where we’re guaranteed we’re going to get the ball in their hands regardless of the coverage and circumstances. That’s something we’ve talked about.”

On Ernest Jones’ play
“He made a lot of plays. I was pleased with his first real start at the MIKE and directing our defense and some of the things he did. I think he’s only going to continue to improve and get better because he’s a coachable guy. He’s extremely intelligent, and I thought there were some really good things he did on the field Saturday.”

On who the third quarterback will be
“Jay Urich.”

On the playbook and Ryan Hilinski and whether or not he gives it all to him
“What does he feel comfortable with is more important not necessarily what we’re comfortable with. Ryan is very intelligent, and he’s adapted himself well and we’ve got to make sure we play well around him. That’s the most important thing. We challenged our defense and the rest of the players offensively. We need to play well around the guy.”

On how he keeps the season on track after losing the opener
“We need to get back on track and the way you do that is practice the right way and prepare the right way and go get you a win on Saturday. That’s what we plan on doing. The past is the past. We need to move on and learn from our mistakes, which we made plenty as coaches and players, and move on. Practice the right way, prepare the right way and have the confidence to play better the next ball game and that’s what we plan on doing.”

On how Jake Bentley is handling this
“Well, it’s hard. The guy puts everything into being the quarterback here at South Carolina. It’s very difficult. It’s hard. He was at practice today and wants to be in the meetings and wants to be involved to help Ryan and Dakereon and be a leader, but that’s who he is. That’s the kind of person he is and how he was raised. That’s why he’ll be successful in life.”

On whether or not he has discussed a redshirt for Jake Bentley
“We haven’t discussed anything right now. It’s a tough time right now.”

On Ryan Hilinski’s growth since the spring
“I think he’s done a really nice job learning the offense and spending the time he needs to spend – whether it’s in the film room or the weight room or the practice field. I’m excited about Ryan. He’s got a lot of arm talent and ability. I think he’ll play extremely well. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him and the job that he’ll do on Saturday playing quarterback here at South Carolina.”

On how soon he will know if Jake Bentley will need surgery or not
“Later in the week. We’re getting a second opinion just to make sure we’re right on the diagnosis to this point and we’ll know more later in the week.”

On how Bobby Bentley is holding up
“It’s tough. It’s hard.”

On Ryan Hilinski’s leadership
“I think Ryan does a really good job. He’s not a very vocal guy, but he has a certain air about him as far as that position is concerned. You’ve got to have that to be at that position in my opinion. Ryan will be fine. Our players have a lot of confidence in Ryan and we do as a staff, as well. It’s most important that we make sure what is Ryan comfortable with in this first ballgame and certainly Dakereon’s role will be important, as well.”

On what Ryan Hilinski said when he told him he’d be starting
“He said, ‘let’s go.'”

On the frustration of the tacking from the UNC game
“We didn’t have any issues in training camp. I didn’t feel like there were any major issues there. They’re all teachable moments to go back and look at. I thought their backs ran hard and they had good backs, but we’ll face good backs all year. So that’s part of it, and we’ll continue to work.”

On the two touchdown passes that North Carolina hit on and mistakes the Gamecock defenders made on the plays
“I think in Israel (Mukuamu) situation, he checked the back shoulder because they were a back-shoulder team – it wasn’t back shoulder. He worked himself into what we call in-phase, and I really think there he should have turned with his right hand to get the receiver’s left hand down. The guy made a heck of a catch; he popped it to himself and caught it. But you take your off hand and you go for the left elbow in that situation. I felt like if he would have done that, and reached in and got it, we probably would have gotten the ball out in that situation. And in John (Dixon) situation, he lost it a little bit on the line of scrimmage because he turned a little bit and let the guy get too much of the vertical release on him. He was able to stack him more in the down, but in that situation, again, you got to go up and play the ball out of phase with your back to the ball, not panicking, trying to get the elbow down because the elbow disrupts the hands as far as catching the football is concerned. I think in both situations, again, I’ve seen both young men make those plays before in camp against good people. That’s the fine line in winning and losing a game. You look at that and take the critical third down conversion on our sideline coming out, I think it was third-and-4 on what we call an inside fade, inside steam ball on our sideline where Jam (Jamyest Williams) is in the same situation, he’s in position to make a play on the ball. We’ve got to get an elbow down especially from working with what I call fill from an out of phase position. You are not in phase to be able to play the ball, because naturally if you’re in phase, we want to play the football in those situations.”

On what he’d say to the fans who are upset about the loss
“You know what, we are pissed off too. As coaches and as a staff, we are a little bit of a bunker mentality. I don’t read your articles and podcast or whatever you do. So at the end of the day, it is about what do we need to do to win. Let’s try to rally to win games and that is what we are going to do as a staff, and that is what we gone do as a team, and that is what we gone do as an organization. So help us win games. That would be my message – go help us win some football games. That’s what we plan on doing.”

On Keir Thomas’ health and what he saw after reviewing the film on the defensive line
“With Keir, I am not exactly sure when that is going to happen, and I know it is not this week and probably not next week. I’ll know more probably in a week and a half, is what I got Sunday when we talked a little bit about where he is. They are still pumping antibiotics in him to make sure they are getting the infection handled up. You know, Javon (Kinlaw) and Kobe (Smith) I thought played well. I think those guys played well. Our young guys have got to continue to come on. I thought Dennis Wonnum did some good things. Other than that, I think we need to play better with some gap integrity things up front, but I thought Javon and Kobe both played well.”