VIDEOS: Tennessee Week Football Media Availability
Gamecocks Open Season Saturday Hosting Volunteers at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Coach Will Muschamp addressed reporters at his weekly news conference Tuesday on a Zoom call, along with players Nick Muse, Collin Hill, Shi Smith and Jaycee Horn. The Gamecocks open the season hosting Tennessee on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network.
WILL MUSCHAMP TRANSCRIPT
– Well, we got to Tennessee here Saturday night at William-Brice Stadium, 7:30 kick on the SCC Network. I’m gon’ say that again ’cause that feels kind of good to say. We’ve got Tennessee Saturday night, 7:30 William-Brice Stadium, SCC Network. It feels really good to say that. Excited for our players, our staff, our school, our fan base, just excited to get back for college football, get back to some normalcy here in the Southeastern conference here at the University of South Carolina and can’t wait to kick it off on Saturday night. Tennessee finished last season, wins six straight, they got really hot there at the end one of the games obvious, verse us on the road. You give up 14 points on special teams, you give up seven explosive passes in the passing game and you get shut out in the second half and you’re three and out on four of seven possessions, it’s very difficult to win the game. We had the momentum going in at halftime, came off at 75 yard drive, right before half. You have the lead and we can’t catch the momentum in the second half but give coach Pruitt and his staff credit. Jeremy’s done a good job there at Tennessee, getting things turned around, especially after a slow start last year but I think he’s got to really good staff DA. The defensive coordinator does a great job Jim Chaney, I think is one of the better coordinators in college football and Jeremy’s done a really good job with that football team. I’m wearing our curing kids’ cancer shirt, which our university, our athletic department sponsors every year for awareness for this organization. It was founded in 2005 by the Owen family to celebrate their son, Killian, who they lost in 2003 and the mission is to fund, innovate, research and treatments to find cures for all children cancers in our lifetime and all we’re trying to do is create some awareness for this wonderful foundation and what it goes to. We also will be wearing a Dodie Anderson sticker on our helmet in every game this year to pay tribute to one of the greatest Gamecocks of all time for her support to our state, our university, our athletic department. Obviously we have the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center, which has touched so many student athletes through the years here at the University of South Carolina. She was one of the major benefactors of the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Facility but she helped us and our university in so many ways and not just financially. Her positive support for the Gamecocks was unparalleled in my opinion in our time here. She was a personal friend of my wife, Carol and I, and she’s missed. She certainly be wearing Garnet and black on Saturday night and watching the Gamecocks play, which is what she loved. She loved girl scouts. I’ll never forget going up and seeing her one time with coach Tanner and she said, “I’m tired of giving money to the young men. I’m gon’ give more money to the young women at South Carolina.” And she was just a wonderful human being and she’s missed. J. Yurick and I have met numerous times over the last three or four months. J’s had some chronic issues with his shoulder but J’s got a strong calling in life to make a difference in people’s lives and he’s going to have surgery tomorrow on his shoulder. He’s going to take a medical, he’s going to graduate in December and then wants to move on to be a graduate assistant for us and help Connor Shaw in a life skills program that we have here within our program. He’s going to make a difference in people’s lives and everything he does. J’s got a gift, he’s got a gift of communicating with people, he’s got a strong faith, he has started Original Design, his foundation, which is going to benefit underprivileged kids here in Columbia to make a difference in their lives, to help them to scholarships and different things and ideas that he has that he and I have had numerous conversations about. We had another meeting this morning, which was just great to hear his take on things about where he wants to take Original Design and I know he’s talked to Mayor Benjamin and Carrie Rich and several people here in Columbia to make a difference in our community but he wants to go to grad school. We’re going to help him do that and help him continue to support Original Design but a guy that’s really made a huge difference, came up with matters as a minimum and he has sold those t-shirts to support his foundation to bring some money in to be able to support the foundation. So we’re, again, really disappointed that he’s not gon’ be on the field with us but he’s always gon’ be with us. He’s gon’ be in our building and continue to work with the Gamecocks moving forward. Injury wise, Jamar Brown’s questionable. Now we’re gon’ see what he can do Wednesday and Thursday, Friday but he is moving around but we’ll see how that goes. Alex Huntley sprained his ankle on Sunday morning, we weren’t working out and he was doing some conditioning on his own and rolled his ankle a little bit. He’s going to be a really good football player for us but he’ll be out this week. I think we might get him back next week. I’ll be able to update you more as we continue to move forward but that’s really it on the injury front. We put Jaylen Foster on scholarship. We had one scholarship available, put him on scholarship today. He earned it. He’s going to help us on special teams and help us on defense. He’s been an outstanding young man in this program and he earned it. He earned it, really proud of him. Jaylin Brooks was denied his waiver from the NCAA. We are currently appealing the decision and I really don’t have any further comment on that at this time and I’ll open it up for any of your questions.
– [Reporter] Well, thanks for doing this. With the COVID testing, when was the last test, when’s the next one and what are you all right now for the game?
– The last test was Sunday and then the next test is tomorrow and then I think we’re changing the protocol from what I was told by Clint Haggard that we will test on Thursday instead of Friday and it won’t be the antigen test, it’ll be the nasal test and then we’ll announce if anybody’s not available for the game probably an hour before kickoff, someone’s not available.
– [Reporter] Coach, with your starting quarterback position, do you anticipate that Colin is the starter from start to finish or are you going to try to get a series or two where Ryan Hilinski gets in there?
– Well, Colin’s a starter and no different than any other position. He knows there’s an expectation for how he needs to play. No different than defensive end, wide receiver, running back. Guys need to go play well and if they don’t play well, we’ll talk about a change but it’s Colin’s game.
– [Reporter] Hey coach, just across the span of this off-season, how much growth have you seen from Tonka Hemingway and what did he kind of do to be able to establish that spot as a number two defensive end?
– Well Tonka’s very mature and I always tell young players and people when they come in the program and everywhere I’ve been, you know, number one, playing that early, you got to have an opportunity. That’s the first thing. You got to have the ability which we felt he was a very talented young man coming out of Conway High School but you got to have maturity. You got to be able to handle the playbook. You got to be to handle different coaching styles. You got to be able to handle a faster game, especially when you’re playing on the line of scrimmage and Tonka is a very mature young man, mature beyond his years. He’s extremely intelligent, he’s a guy that gets it when you tell him something, he understands it and he’s able to retain and you don’t have to coach him over and over again on the same things over and over again. So I think maturity, number one and he is extremely extremely intelligent.
– [Reporter] Yeah, well, what’s kind of the ceiling for Dakereon Joyner as far as the impact you think he can make this year play full position?
– Well, again, I think that, very unfair to him last year, we moved him to a receiver, he’s completely bought in and he wants to do it and a week and a half later, he’s back playing quarterback. So he didn’t have a year, he didn’t have a spring practice to go through to learn all of the different nuances of a new position. So there’s still some learning going on, which is to be expected and the great thing about Dakereon is he’s a very competitive, intelligent, smart and a guy that is very competitive and he wants everything to happen right now and sometimes there’s a process that you’ve got to work through and what I’ve been proud of him is to be able to see that process and to continue to work through that process to be a really good player but we have a high expectation for him. He has a high expectation of himself.
– [Reporter] Coach, with all the challenges amid the pandemic, I’m curious with the length of your camp. Do you think in some part or some way that maybe benefited this team because of the lack of spring to try to build some continuity offensively as Colin Hill takes over and again, trying to run that new offense on Saturday night?
– Well, Joe, I really liked the fact to be able to have 25 practices in 40 days. I think that time off in between practices is great learning, especially putting in a new offense but it was also great for young players to be able to go back and walk through the next day in shorts, to be able to explain why instead of, sometimes when you’re in training camp and I’ve referred to it drinking out, water out of a fire hose. I mean, it just keeps coming. It keeps coming and as a young player, like when does it stop? I didn’t learn yesterday very well and you’re already giving me something else to learn. So I think though that, I wish we’d look forward to this model. Again, it is a longer camp but I think that the contact day-to-day is less on the players. We’ve had much less injuries with the head in camp than we’ve ever had and I think that that’s something we really need to look at as we continue to move forward but there’s no question that this has been very beneficial to spread things out in camp when you’re installing a new offense and you’ve got more time to cover the details of what you need to do to be successful.
– [Reporter] I guess, knowing where you guys were offensively last year and now with this new scheme. Outside of obviously winning football games, how do you measure success in this offensive progress with Mike Bobo?
– Well, scoring points. At the end of the day, we’ve got to be more productive. I think we scored one touchdown in the last three games last year and we lost a lot of confidence, which not just affects your offense, it affects your football team. It affects everything but again, I’ve been very pleased with what Mike has done and our offensive staff, the buy-in from offensive players. We’ve had more success offensively in a fall camp than we’ve had in a long time here as far as being productive, being aggressive, doing the things we need to do to be successful. So again, I measured on winning games ’cause that’s the bottom line but we need to score more points meaning more productive. You can go back and look at different areas. Obviously the red zone was a major issue for us last year and passing yards per attempt was horrible. Our ability to run the football in games kept us in ballgames to be able to take the pressure off of a tough situation for Ryan. We didn’t do enough around that position as a staff and I’m not blaming anybody. It’s on me as the head football coach. We didn’t do enough around that position to help that position considering where we were. We ended up throwing the ball more than anybody else in the regular season and in our conference and that’s not a winning formula considering where we were but again, that’s on me, no one else.
– [Reporter] Hey, as someone who’s been through tons of season openers as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach, how much different does it seem or do you just get into your head coach mindset? “Hey, it’s just another season opener. Let’s go get ’em.”
– I’ve said before. There’s no handbook for what we just went through. There’s been a lot of gymnastics involved. We’ve had players that have been contact trace quarantine for 14 days. We’ve actually had two young players that have been contact traced for 28 days of the 40-day camp. I mean, what chance do they have? It’s just very very difficult and that’s kind of hard as you go into your first game. Obviously the duration of camp was longer but we had some issues with COVID and so that’s part of, I think what everybody’s going through and you had, especially if a young player misses 14 days, that takes a toll on his development, it takes a toll on his knowledge of what we’re doing on offense, on defense, on special teams and we’re trying to speed up that process for some young guys here late to try and get them ready for a kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium at 7:30. So it is different. I’ve felt more in tune than when we started our preparation for Tennessee on Thursday of last week, more in the game mode tune and I felt normal in training camp except for when Clint Haggard walked in my office or my phone popped up and Clint Haggard’s name was on my phone ’cause that was generally not real good news. So that’s been very different from that aspect. It’s been very different from a practice standpoint of sometimes you got to be able to prepare to not have a guy for 10 or 14 days for whatever the case may be and you’ve got to juggle and do some different things practice wise but again, that’s where we are. That’s the situation we’re dealing with and everybody in the country’s dealing with it.
– [Reporter] Well, how would you evaluate the progress of your wide receiver group from the start of your 40-day fall camp to right now?
– Well, I think we’ve made tremendous strides. I think Shi’s had a really good camp. He’s on a lot of explosive plays throughout camp, he’s a very difficult guy to cover whether he’s outlined up outside and in the slot. Xavier Legette, I think the last week and a half has been really good. A guy that has really come on for us and done some really nice things. Dakereon continues to improve every single day he steps on the field. We’ve talked about Rico Powers as a freshman that’s come in and done some really nice things. Ger-Cari Caldwell on some 50-50 balls in scrimmage situations has made some really nice plays on the ball as a guy that we’re excited about and then you got a guy like Luke Doty as a young player. Then obviously with Jalen right now not being eligible is going to figure in even more in that group.
– [Reporter] Well, you guys obviously were very vocal on social justice issues this summer. Will there be any sort of display at the game and if not this game, will there be later on in the season?
– Well possibly. I’ve met with our senior leadership group numerous times as well as our football team to talk about the racial inequalities, some of the social injustice that are going on in our country right now at this time and as we marched in Columbia, as we marched on campus, it was a unified march as a football team. I said if we’re not all in it together, we’re not doing it but if we’re all together and this is what we want, this is what we support, then we’re going to do this and we’re going to do it as a football program and right now our guys as a senior leadership group and George Wind, who’s our diversity and inclusion officer in our building, along with Connor Shaw. They could not come to 100% agreement on anything that they wanted to do as far as those things are concerned and so that’s where we are at this time. Can that change? Sure, but that’s where we are at this time.
– [Reporter] Nick News was pretty direct earlier talking about the responsibility that the Titans have in the offense saying, they’re the ones responsible for making the key block on first down, the key catch on third down. As a head coach, first, is that pretty accurate? But secondly, with the inexperience in that group with the amount of youth, is that concerning for you as that guy?
– Absolutely, I think it’s very concerning. I think you, you really look past Nick, we’d done had a lot anyone that’s really logged a bunch of snaps in games, even though Will’s a junior. So there’s going to be some new for them as far as Saturday night’s concerned. I think we’ve done a good job of incorporating them within the offense, that’s something that Mike really likes to utilize that position. I do think John, that we’ve got some ability at the position but we haven’t seen him do it on Saturday night at Williams-Brice or on the road in the Southeastern conference and that’s what, it’s going to have to happen quick and it’s going to have to happen Saturday night. I agree with what Nick’s saying we’re very… The tight end position is very involved in what we do offensively and it’s all encompassing ’cause you’re not just in the route schemes, you’re in the route schemes, you’re in protection, you’re also in the run game and a lot of times, you’re at the point of attack and winning on a six technique in this leg. So those guys, a lot of business has been asked of those guys more than maybe before.
– [Reporter] Well with Mike’s experience as a head coach, do you feel that allows you to focus more of your attention sometimes with defense and special teams or is that more of a trust thing that comes as the season goes on from head coaches perspective?
– Well, I’ve got great trust in Mike. He’s an outstanding football coach, obviously being a head coach before. Until you’ve actually sat in the chair, you have no idea of what you deal with on a day-to-day, week to week, month to month basis within the team, within the staff but I’ve got a lot of confidence in Mike and trust in Mike to do a great job. I coach on defense, I coach special teams and I recruit and I hire an offense coordinator to run the offense and that’s what we’re doing.
– [Reporter] When you guys announced the decision about Hill being QB one, how did Ryan take it? How’s he been for the past few days?
– He’s great. He came in, said it was a great competition, very difficult decision on us and it’s like I told Ryan and I’ve told numerous players, those are tough meetings on coaches as well at the end of the day ’cause you want your guys to succeed and you want them to feel that their dreams and aspirations are being fulfilled, but Ryan agrees that Colin’s a good quarterback as well. He’s totally supportive, 1000% on board, he’s all Gamecock and excited about our season and as I’ve told him and I’ve told numerous other guys that aren’t at the high profile position that he’s at, it’s a long season. We’re dealing with a lot of things we’ve never dealt with before as far as what we’re heading into. So let’s understand, continue to improve and get better but the improvement from practice one to practice 18, which is after we made the decision for Ryan, the guy has come a long way. Mike really talked in terms of fundamentals, foot work and things and Ryan has made tremendous strides and certainly, was it an advantage that Colin had played in the offense before? Absolutely, you can’t ignore that. That’s part of it but I’ve been really proud how Ryan’s handled it, no different than how Dakereon Joyner handled last year. This is what we’re going to do and I’m totally on board for what we need to do to be successful. So you appreciate young men like that ’cause it’s a tough deal.
– [Reporter] Also will there be any players who missed the game because of disciplinary issues from the off-season, the summer or anything like that?
– [Reporter] Hey coach, you kind of touched on this earlier but last couple of seasons, you kind of had the likes of Deebo Samuel and Brian Edwards kind of lead the wide receiver group. Just what are your thoughts on Shi Smith kind of stepping out this year and taking on like a lead role on the wide receiving core?
– Well, we’ll see how it goes is offensively and we certainly have a strong belief in Shi’s ability. I know I do. I know coach Bobo does, Coach Cox. I know our offensive staff and our offensive player and Ryan and Colin and our quarterback. So we think Shi is a really good football player and has got a great year sitting in front of him but we need more guys to continue to step up because when we did get double coverage on Deebo, Brian was able to create some opportunities for himself and when Brian was getting doubled, Shi did some nice things and some other guys that you can’t just have one guy get featured all the time ’cause defenses will learn to take those things away. So again, you look at Deebo and Brian are two of the best to ever play here and certainly Shi’s senior year and I want him to have a special one.
– [Reporter] Hey coach, just talk to us a little bit about, you touched on it a little bit earlier, just your excitement about opening weekend and everything like that but just the fact that you guys are going to be able to play in front of some form of an audience. Tell me about, what is it going to be like for you personally to be back in Williams-Brice Stadium and under the Saturday night lights in this case?
– Well, there’s nothing like a Saturday night at Williams-Brice. It will be different but we had our first scrimmage there and we went during the daytime when we had our night scrimmage. There’s just something about it and it’s a great environment, it’s a great setting for college football for the Southeastern Conference. So I get excited whether or not our fans are there or not, I get real excited when our fans are there but just be quite candid. There were some days I didn’t think we were going to get to this point and I think we would all agree with that, that we were concerned whether this was going to happen or not and I applaud Commissioner Sankey and the leadership of our leg, the leadership of our university. President Caslen, Coach Tanner to push this forward to number one, know that it’s the safest thing for the student athletes but it’s getting back to some normalcy in our life and I’m just glad we’re playing college football.
– [Reporter] Yeah, hey Will, you had to face Steve Spurrier as a head coach and I guess maybe as a defensive coordinator. So you knew what it was like to kind of prepare for an offensive mind like Kim. Can you compare or how would you compare Mike Bobo in terms of a play caller, a game organizer and running an offense during a game from your days as a defensive coordinator facing a guy like Spurrier?
– Well, I think that there’s some similarities. I don’t need to tell you what we’re doing offensively but I think just philosophically and I knew Jeremy’s worked with Mike before so it’s nothing that I’m going to say that’s going to be any different than what he probably already believes but I think that both are very aggressive as far as vertically challenging you down the field. They’re gon’ take some shots to get people off of you, both want to stay balanced. Everybody talked about Coach Spurrier and as far as throwing the football, I remember as a graduate assistant in 1996 when I was at Auburn and breaking down to get ready to play Florida down in Gainesville, I mean it’s 50-50 and you’re taking away the blowout games. You’re talking about when the games are on the line. He is effective running the football and I think Mike believes, I know Mike believes the same thing. So, those are the two things that would jump out of me, Phil was the aggressive nature down the field and just being balanced offensively and I remember I’ll never forget 1996 as a graduate assistant, breaking it down then as a defensive and coordinator in Auburn and we came over here in ’06 on Thursday night and it was almost identical. It was 52-48 pass or run or run to pass or whatever the breakdown was. So there was always going to be a strong balance, I think from a standpoint formationally. Coach Spurrier got to different route concepts, a lot of different ways but it was the same reads, whether it was a high-low across the middle, a high-low outside, a double pole. I mean there was the same concepts that show up a hundred different ways to get to ’em but it was the same for the quarterback and that to me helps the quarterback be very efficient in what they do. So I think that there’s a lot strong similarities in those two situations or three.
– [Reporter] Yeah Will, especially with the odd off-season we had, can you kind of describe what you witnessed as far as the process Collin Hill had to undertake in earning the respect of his teammates, being a new face of the program and kind of commanding their respect, that type of deal?
– Well, I think that’s hard. Number one, it’s hard on the player who’s coming in as an older player. Sometimes set in their ways of how they’ve done things or want to do things but when you meet Colin, you see that he is a gracious, a guy you’ll be around as far as wanting to get along but certainly has strong leadership ability in himself and I think when you walk in the building and you’ve got some credibility as far as your player is concerned, which he certainly does but you walk in the building with three ACLs, you have an amount of toughness to you and I think there was great respect among our team as far as he was concerned understanding what he’s been through and I think all of our guys have great respect for that and as they continue to work with the guy, they see his work ethic, they see his intelligence, they see how he gravitates to other people, they see what kind of person he is and then what’s real ’cause the players are really the ones that know. It’s always concerning for me as a coach to bring an older player in ’cause you don’t know how they are going to to be in the locker room but obviously with Mike’s experience with both Adam Pernice and Colin could not talk highly enough of those two young men and Mike was dead on with both guys in how they are as people and they’ve been huge, positive additions to our team.
– [Reporter] What are the biggest challenges in facing a Jim Chaney offense? And does some of the stuff that he kind of does reflect sort of some of the stuff that Mike kind of wants to do with his offense?
– There’s some similarities formationally. Run game, passing concepts. There’s some similarities. I think Jim’s experience, you’re not going to hit him with one thing more than twice, he’s going to make an adjustment on a pressure. Will Friend, he’s an offensive line coach of course, was with Mike at Colorado state and at the University of Georgia. So there’s going to be a lot of similarities for both defenses on Saturday night but I think Jim’s gon’ stay balanced. He’s got great experience, he knows how to attack people and personnel. So those are all things, because of his experience at the position, I think he’s really good at what he does.
– [Reporter] I said that my understanding was that the SEC was going to have one group take over all the testing once the season begins. Has that happened yet?
– Yes, they had a dry run last week.
– [Reporter] So does that make you feel better about everybody being on the same page and following the protocols the same way?
– I mean, as far as testing, yeah.
– [Reporter] I think you have 16 or so freshmen on the two deep, I think 16 more sophomores. Do you feel like having this extended training camp where you’re unable to kind of get guys go slower with guys, do you feel like that really helped with their development and being able to kind of get on the two deep?
– Oh, there is no question because of being able to practice and really, if you look at most days we had a practice, we had an off day. It was like spring ball almost. You’re able to go through, watch the tape, slow it down for the player and I think it was much more beneficial for young guys, number one. Number two, I think we have a very talented freshmen class and you see these guys walk in the door, there’s some guys that are extremely talented, they’re gon’ be really good football players here at South Carolina. So that’s a flip side of that as well that there’s some guys that already contribute. You look at most of the sophomores they’ve played. So there’s a lot of guys that maybe don’t have the experience as seniors are concerned but as young players they’ve played, but there’s no question, the duration of camp was very beneficial for a young player.
– [Reporter] Well, what’s the deal with the NCAA with Brooks? I mean, could you win that appeal and if he’s playing at some point this season or what’s up with that?
– Well, I mean, we’re going to appeal and I really don’t have any other comment at this time.
– [Reporter] It’s got a monitor with sound like I said. I promise you but getting back to the quarterback situation with Jay going down and you all being at three and last year, what we saw how things can spiral and this year with the virus on top of that, I can’t imagine you guys are talking about Dakereon getting back there at some point or have you guys had any–
– Now we’re repping three guys right now and Luke’s still a quarterback. I mean, he’s going to play receiver, that’s something that we felt like, from a depth standpoint, from ability standpoint to have him on the field ’cause he’s a really good athlete. He runs extremely well to help our team but he’s still a quarterback and so we’re still kind of working in that manner.
– [Reporter] Will, just how confident does it make you guys in that middle linebacker spot where a guy like Ernest can miss three weeks without appendix, then come back and still be considered that starter?
– Well, he’s a really good player, he’s very experienced, very smart and he’s very talented but he runs the defense extremely well but it really helped Damani Staley. I mean Damani is a guy that handled the Mike position and we function well with him playing Mike. So we feel really comfortable with three guys inside, with Ernest Damani and Sherrod, who’s played well for us and has had a good camp that those three guys we can play winning football with and you’re not gon’ make it through with two and you certainly probably are going to have a hard time with three, we got to continue. Mo Kaba needs to continue to come on, Spencer Easton Reynolds, a guy that’s played Mike for us and been productive, he can be the backup with Brad there at the Sam position but we got to continue to bring those guys along, hopefully we are going to get Rosendo back on the field within a week or two, that’ll help us but we feel good where we are there and it was a huge benefit for Damani.
– [Reporter] Well, now that it is game week, I know we’ve talked about this a couple of times but how many guys will you dress this week? Are they going to have to dress at the other locker room? Is there enough room? And some of the pregame stuff. I know in terms of a coach, you like being able to have routine. I don’t know if the Gamecock walk’s going on? Do you guys have to come to the stadium earlier? Some of those things.
– Now, we’ll arrive at the stadium at the same time, we will not have a Gamecock walk and we’ll arrive right where we enter through the player’s lounge there in the stadium and then we’re still working through who dresses, how many people we’re going to have on the sideline. Those are still some things that George Wind kind of works through for me, updates me as they come through the SCC protocol and we’re going to sit down tomorrow and Thursday to go through that and exactly how we’ll manage all those situations.
– [Reporter] Well, what did Jaylan Foster kind of show you guys to earn that scholarship and what has his off-season sort of been like?
– Well, he’s had a good year. He’s been a productive guy since he’s been here and so with some opportunities was we had some guys in the secondary and he was able to take some practice opportunities and scrimmage opportunities, did a nice job. He’s going to probably start on two or three special teams right now. He runs extremely well, he’s very bright, he understands our system, he can play nickel, he can play safety. So there’s a lot of positives he brings to our team but as a guy, he should continue to work hard. He’s managed everything in a first class way, extremely intelligent, he’s already graduated. So I mean, those are all things to me, that you try to reward as best you can because he earned it.
– [Reporter] Well I know, Collin’s gone through a lot but he’s a in-state guy who grew up following this program. Are there any concerns about the emotions coming in and out because this is a once in a lifetime moment he’s going to have Saturday night?
– Well, I think Colin in the time that I’ve gotten to know him, he’s a pretty calm demeanor and I think he’ll handle himself extremely well.
– [Reporter] Yeah well, two questions. How’s the Zaquandre doing with that hamstring?
– He’s doing well, he looked great today. Zaquandre brings some juice and energy of practice, there is no doubt about that and he added today. Actually he and Jaylan got, we got a pretty good tackle there in the hole and it was good to see those guys competing but Zaquandre brings a lot of juice and energy to the practice field, there’s no question and I thought he looked good today and I haven’t talked to Mike and Dez yet but I thought he looked good.
– [Reporter] Is there a timeline of when you’d like to name you’re starting, I guess, right tackle now in terms of, I know there’s a bunch of ores in the two deep?
– Yeah, I would say probably game day. We still got a lot of opportunities, our walkthroughs on Friday and Saturday morning for a night game are critical to make sure guys are dialed in and focused on what we evaluate everything up to that point. I would probably say the same thing at the running back position as right tackle Colin.
– [Reporter] Who’s going to handle your kickoff duties? Will that be Jeter?
– Mitch Jeter and then possibly Parker. You all know me, I don’t like to put our place kicker kicking the ball off but Mitch has certainly been, had some solid moments in camp and he’s got to continue to be a little bit more consistent for a young player but Parker is more than capable but I would rather have Mitch do it.
– [Reporter] And how is Keir developed as you’re punter?
– Good, again, I think Keir is extremely talented and can do everything as far as we’re asking him to do, kicking the ball directionally. We just got to be a little more consistent at times but he has more than the ability to get the job done.
– [Reporter] Done listing on the depth chart, obviously you guys have used guys in that sort of capacity in the past but is that a spot in a position that you’re trying to cover up from a recruiting standpoint and finding guys who have that type of skillset and can play that?
– What position was that?
– [Reporter] The dime spot.
– No, we’ve always had, I guess coach Fink never put it on the depth chart. He didn’t think it was very important, I guess so…
– [Reporter] Whose credit? It looks a little more even on the depth chart, just from an aesthetic standpoint, tip of the cap.
– That is absolutely the most important part of it but no, it’s just something, to be honest with you, Hale dead serious. We’ve never really had the depth of quality player that we felt like we could play a DB ’cause it’s got to be a guy that can go play in the box and can go play the runs and has instincts to play on their own which Gemara and RJ both have those instincts and we’ve never really felt like we had that depth to be able to invest the time to get to a dime grouping that we felt like quality players on the field, then you get in the question of, okay, we’re going to take off Earnest, we’re going to take off Sherrod. That’s where you start asking your questions of taking quality player off, does it give you more opportunity to disguise? Yeah, could you can stay split safety, still spend down getting to a single high look. You can stay split safety and show single height. I mean, there’s a lot of different variables you can get when you have a guy that’s got qualities to be able to play in the deep part of the field but also be able to play in the box as a run player and a good Blitzer and those two guys, Jamar and RJ possess those qualities very well. They’re good Blitzers, they’re good in the box instinct players, they can play in the deep part of the field, they can cover man to man. So those are all things you got to have at that position and we’ve had that before ’cause RJ has been here, Jamar has been here but the depth of being able to put a nickel out there, to have two quality safeties and two quality corners, I would know that I can sit there and tell you that we’ve had that. Also, in the past year, you’re going to take Scott More off the field, that wouldn’t be very smart. He was kind of that dime anyways. He played middle field coverage for us, he covered man in the slot, he played in the box and we did a lot of different things with him and then TJ Brunson was the Mike, so we didn’t want to disrupt those guys as well. So it’s, to me is that six DB better than your second linebacker? And those are the questions we get into as far as that position is concerned.