VIDEOS: Ole Miss Week Football Media Availability
Head coach Will Muschamp addressed reporters at his weekly news conference on a Zoom call Tuesday. Players Nick Muse, Collin Hill, Ryan Hilinski, Deshaun Fenwick and Kingsley Enagbare spoke with the media as well.
COACH MUSCHAMP TRANSCRIPT
– Got Ole Miss this Saturday night, SEC Network 7:30 kick thing that jumps out at you want to watch the tape is just overall team speed. They’ve got a lot of guys that run extremely well obviously offensively. I think they’re leading our league right now and most about every category but the skill position players are really good. Matt Kraus playing really good football, completing over 70% of his passes and a lot of vertical passing game. Plumlee does a nice job when they bring him in and the different things that how they use him. Jerry Neely and Connor the two backs are really good players. Very difficult guys in space to take down, a lot more we played against two years ago over there knew as a true freshman, he was going to be a fantastic player. He’s a very good slot receiver, punt returner speed sweep guy that utilize him in a lot of different ways. Mingo and drum and both other guys outside that are good players in Ebo. The transfer tied in has been a huge addition to their teams. They’re very good in the skill positions. They play with a great tempo, and Lane does a great job of whether he or leave your calling plays both guys do a nice job of attacking you with tempo, but also schematically in match-ups, and they do they do a really good job. So we got our work cut out for us so that aggressive on special teams, can they continue to improve on defense? So work cut out for us on Saturday night I’ll open up for any questions. And I also always say that both quarterbacks Collin and Ryan both got equal reps. We have a package for Luke with Colin and Ryan visas so similar skill set wise. Both guys did a good job today. We do not have a timetable on when we will make that decision. It could be up to pre-game warm up to see who’s been best in pregame. So we’ll we’ll go from there.
– [Reporter] All right, thank you, Steve. Hey Will, Nick Muse told us that he would take a bullet for you. First of all, have you ever had a player say that about you before? And what does it mean to you that your players have your back to that degree? And are just very supportive?
– Well, I don’t think they’d say I was an asshole. We got a game on Saturday, right? But now, we have a great group of young men in that locker room that I appreciate their support, and I support them and we ride together and we need to win a football game that’ll make everybody happy.
– [Reporter] In terms of the quarterbacks how have you seen them kind of respond and react to having that job opened up again? You mentioned kind of have a practice that how have they sort of responded off field and I guess also on field with their energy and such,
– You know I wouldn’t say any differently because both guys have been, we try to create a competitive atmosphere all the time. And I know Mike does a great job of pushing that position. And then having those guys be game ready. In all situations, Luke, is always is really, I wouldn’t maybe for the last month, month and a half, maybe six weeks, has been getting the lion’s share of reps at quarterback in his package and the things that we do trying to bring that along. And we’ll continue to do so. And Ryan and Collin have been getting the reps in what we’re I guess you’d say our mainstay offense and what we do so but it’s been a very competitive room, on and off the field, in my opinion, and both guys I think are great for each other. Both guys interact very well together. Both guys share information very well together. Both guys want South Carolina to be successful and win and they both want to be the starting quarterback only one guy can play. But both guys are talented and we can win with both.
– [Reporter] Will, you guys played Ole Miss two years ago, and back then they had a real, high flying offense, but they had a different coach with Matt Luke. And now lane. Have you ever seen that kind of similarity last over a coaching change in terms of how explosive the offenses?
– Well, again, know Phil Longo was the offensive coordinator and he did a great job. He’s doing a really good job in North Carolina. So, I do think that with the tempo they play with, there’s a little bit more in the run game that Lane presents each week as far as what they do. And in but there’s a lot of new concepts that carry over especially with the tempo that they play with. And very similar skill set from a receiver standpoint and running back when we went over there and the tight end that we played that day still playing buffalo. I don’t know where the quarterback is, but he was talented Matt corral, played that day as a true freshman and got tremendous respect for him. He’s got arm talent, he can make all the throws, he’s got athleticism, he can hurt you with his legs. Running back 22 was a really good football player formalizing more was a freshman. AJ Brown was a senior, outside receiver there* was a very difficult matchup. So that was a game, with another really talented skill opposition team.
– [Reporter] When you …. blues at your home stadium, and there’s a lot of criticism out there right now does that help kind of create kind of an us against the world mentality around the program both in the locker room, at practice, that kind of thing to change the tenor of your preparation at all?
– It really doesn’t until the day, its you know I always tell the guys we can control we can control and that’s our preparation and preparation for Ole Miss, which has got a good football team. So we need to lock in and focus on those things and block out anything, whether it’s negative or positive, and the day when we when you win games, and everybody wants to pat you on the back. And that’s, that can be a distraction as well.
– [Reporter] Coach along those same lines, do you stress to the players that they can control the narrative of what happens next is four games left. So how you play can determine the narrative and what people talk about, do you emphasize it’s what you guys control that determines what people say about you moving forward?
– Well, Joe, we say that from day one, since I’ve been here. And that’s that’s been a message every week as a season. And we’ve got four great opportunities in the next opportunities in Oxford, Mississippi. And that’s, that’s what we’re focused on.
– [Reporter] Will, two questions for you, I guess, as the week continues, will you change reps, whittle down reps, if you kind of have an idea of who’s going to start before Saturday?
– I don’t think we want to make that decision till at least after Friday’s Walter.
– [Reporter] And I guess you’ve talked to a bunch of this year about the quarterback that’s going to give you the best chance to win is going to play I guess, how do you quantify that in practice? What do you get what all goes into evaluating that?
– Well, decision making at the line of scrimmage in the run game decision making at the line of scrimmage in protections, decision making at the line of scrimmage of redirecting the protection, changing the play, whatever the game plan presents itself, completion percentage being accurate with the football, we’ll have a third down period tomorrow, which will be critical for both guys, we’ll have a one minute period tomorrow or Thursday, we haven’t decided yet. That’ll be critical form, how they manage all the things I talked about earlier in scout periods, crossover periods, and good on good periods. So every player is great. I mean, we do that. But that’s not just now calling that’s been every day, since we’ve been going and trying to create competition. And it’s not just the quarterback position. We chart production production on defense, we grade every day as a great of offensive line wise, running back wise, whatever the case may be, but those are the things that the quarterback position we’re looking at. And we’ll continue to evaluate that and grade those guys.
– [Reporter] After the Auburn game, we were two and two. And since then we’ve had a two game losing streak. What are you doing as a coach? And what is your staff doing to make sure that doesn’t turn into a three game losing streak?
– Well, I mean, we’re preparing our football team like we would normally do like we did against Vanderbilt, and what we did in Auburn and obviously the other teams and we got to play better and coach better on Saturday night.
– [Reporter] Will, I’m sure people from the outside, they look at it. And it’s easy to just look at common Hill and just be able to blame here But when you look at the big picture, of course, it’s the drops. There’s some other things going on. Why? why now, why look at the decision to make a change now. I try to look Think back to your first year when you decided to make a change at quarterback when Perry Orth so why now in terms of just what you’ve been seeing, and maybe not a little bit earlier in the year?
– Well, I think that we’d been pretty productive earlier in the year, I didn’t think we had more than 150 yards earlier in the year in a ballgame. And I think we lacked a spark on Saturday to get things going and sometimes the change up is at that position. That position can affect more people than any other position on the offensive side of the ball with the way we’re structured offensively, I agree with you. It’s not all in that position. We need to play better around that position. We need to have more people step up the wide out position outside of Chad Smith, we need to continue to take advantage of the tight-end position. We need to run the ball better. And there’s a lot of things, but we need a spark on offense that we averaged eight yards play against LSU. We’ve done some really good things offensively in moving the ball, but we needed a spark and then moving forward, competition hopefully provides that spark.
– [Reporter] Hey, coach, yeah, kind of touching on what we talked about in the last question. You guys have been outscored 100 to 27 in your past two games and seemed like you guys had a great flow to your games even in the Vanderbilt game and then the Auburn game, yes, had a great flow to the game. And even in the games that you guys lost against Florida and Tennessee, can you just tell me about what are some of the things you feel the team needs to get back to in order to win? Is it just the quarterback play or is it run the ball more on solid spot there?
– Its in all three phases. You give up 14 points on the road in Baton Rouge when you’re defensive on the field, your defense doesn’t force a punt. It doesn’t struggle to stop the run, force him to, we’re not very good on first and 10th. So that creates issues for you on third down defensively. In Saturday night, we get worn down defensively ’cause we can’t stay on the field nor get off the field on defense. So it’s a lot of different things that we can improve on and then we certainly are addressing with our team, and we’ll continue to address with our team. But it isn’t just quarterback play, we got a lot more issues other than that in the last two ballgames.
– [Reporter] Well, this week have you had any conversations with Coach Tanner about just kind of where things stand in the state of the program?
– Coach Tanner and I talk all the time about where we are and what we need to do to be successful, and everything’s been very positive.
– [Reporter] What kind of message did he have for you this week?
– He’s been very supportive like he’s been for the previous four years.
– [Reporter] And with regard to Paul Jackson, now that he has six games under your belt out, how do you see your team differently this year under him, whether it’s from a physicality standpoint, health standpoint, just what is he brought, that you’ve been able to see tangibly over these six games to now?
– Well, I think as much as anything, John, the guys embracing the weight room, the mentality of when our guys lift, or non-travel guys and guys that aren’t playing a lot of snaps, maybe a guy’s traveling, but he’s not necessarily playing a lot of snaps, those guys are getting three good lifts, at least during the week, and then the guys that are playing a lot are getting two good lifts in a week, and they embrace what they have going in the weight room. From that standpoint, I don’t even want to bring it up, but we’ve had less soft tissue issues, knock-on wood than we’ve had in the last two seasons, obviously. As far as those things are concerned, much that’s been cut to a great degree. I think a lot of that’s the monitoring of the catapult system, the interaction he and I have as far as where he thinks guys are is where I think guys are. Sometimes as a football coach, you see it different than a strength coach sees it or a trainer sees it. So we’ve had very productive conversations, as far as that’s concerned, that I think helped us a lot. So I think Paul does a really good job, I think from a standpoint of, just overall, mentality of your football team and then positively affecting guys, he does a really good job. And his staff as well.
– [Reporter] After watching the film, what positive things could you take from Saturday night? And do you think this team, what did they actually learn from their experience Saturday night?
– I don’t know that we could take much from the film offensively that was positive at all. I do think defensively, we’re firmer on some blocks, we played better inside than we had played. I thought there were some positives there. And I thought on special teams that we did a good job. Kaicrow continues to come on force. I mean, there’s positive, Dick. I mean, not, it’s not all negative. But when the score ends up the way it ends up, it’s not very good. And that’s the bottom line, it’s got to get better.
– And I would say they got to add to that, I mean, we’ve got to moved on. We have a 24-hour rule around here and we rehashed all of that technically on Sunday, and we’ve moved on to Ole Miss. So a lot of it’s not fresh in my mind moving forward, other than things that I know that we’ve got to get better
– [Reporter] Go speaking of moving on, but in years passed, you’ve talked about certain iterations of your team having the confidence and the resiliency to be able to bounce back from adversity. What gives you confidence that this team can do that.
– I think we have good leadership on the team and we had a good meeting this morning with those guys about where we are and I think we’re in a good spot mentally based on two very poor performances back to back as good as it can be, as far as where these guys are, these guys are angry, they’re upset and they want to play better, we need to coach better. So it’s a two-way street. We plan on doing both.
– [Reporter] Will, I know you guys got the word from Tex A&M about their COVID tests. Has that had any effect on this team? Have you had to keep some guys out because of quarantine issues or anything like that?
– No Pete and when I saw that, I guess it was it yesterday it came out, I think I saw it and I called Clint Haggard immediately and he said we have no issues. Is very similar to the Vanderbilt game. As far as however they compute that, you’d probably have to talk to Clint Haggard for exactly how that’s done. All I know is no one’s been quarantined.
– [Reporter] Yeah, well do you feel you still have the right combination up front on the offensive line? Do you see any changes or the best five still out there in your opinion?
– Well, Jakai Moore is going to get some more opportunities, to play and where Vershon Lee continues to come on for us. Jaylen Nichols has been continuing to improve, Eddy Murphy. So again, we’ll continue to work through giving some more guys some other opportunities and we’ll settle on some things as the latter part of the week settles in for what we’ll do in Oxford.
– [Reporter] Will, a couple for you. First, will Sterling and Mullins be okay for this week?
– I believe so, yeah.
– [Reporter] And then you’ve mentioned that the other receivers outside of Shi needing to kind of step up a few times. What has been the biggest reason why no one really has all through six game?
– I think we’ve given some guys opportunities and whether it’s dropped passes or not run, the route the precise way, whether those things are all issues, so we got to catch the ball number one. Number two, when your numbers call, just make sure you’re precise in what you’re doing route wise and in those sort of things you’re concerned because that obviously throws off timing for the quarterback in the play. So I think those things are all all encompassing. And those are the two main issues that we’ve got. Just be more dependable in what we’re doing.
– [Reporter] Yeah, hey Will, you went through a difficult finish during your time in Florida. What do you take from that that can help you here at South Carolina as you try to work your way through what you’re going through.
– Win games.
– [Reporter] Hey, folks, yeah, just kind of talking about the receivers again. Jalen had a big drop in the game. Jalen Brooks had a big drop in the game on Saturday night. Where has his mindset been over the past couple of days as he’d been more engaged? And receivers as a whole, have they taken more, I guess, turns at the jugs machines to make sure that they’re precise, and they’re tensing the way they need to?
– Well, they’re always on the jugs machine. They certainly we’ve amped that up a little bit. But Jalen is going to be fine. Jalen is a good football player. And he’s going to have that same opportunity on Saturday in Oxford, and he’ll make the catch. He’s a good player and he didn’t try and drop it, it happens. But he’s an outstanding young man, glad he’s in our program. And he’ll have some opportunities on Saturday night, he’s going to make those plays.
– [Reporter] Will a couple times this season when you guys have been down in the red zone. I know they’ve had some rub routes. I’m not trying to get you in trouble in terms of how you’re going to answer this, but I know there’s been some of those rub routes, those pick routes. In your mind, though, ’cause I know you guys are usually in man coverage, what is the benefit of playing man? And I’m sure that changes week to week and even sometimes play to play in the red zone, but what is the benefit though of playing man that keeps creating these situations, unfortunately?
– Well, another thing and I would go back to Dick’s question is, we had three opportunities in the first half to make stops in the red zone and make them kick field goals in all critical third down situations, when we don’t convert, and you look at the Auburn game, again, you have success and you made some stops in the red zone to force him to fill goals. And that was that was critical in the first half there. But we do play zone down there as well. And we have been robbed a little bit and that’s part of it. We’ve got to do a better job coaching our guys of anticipating. Most teams run those routes the same way game after game. They very rarely change things up as far as how they get to it. They may change that up, but how they run it and who runs it normally is not a huge difference. We should have been pressed outside on the first touchdown in the game against Tex A&M, because that’s where the rub was always coming from. We pressed inside, and we played off outside. And that’s why we got picked. So those things happen. And if they see it’s a penalty, they going to throw it, if they don’t, then they won’t. And that’s just kind of we explained our guys, if they throw a flag for holding, it’s holding, if they don’t, it’s not holding. So that’s the way we look at it.
– [Reporter] Yeah, well, you kind of touched on Ole Miss’s vertical passing game, kind of explosive off. Do you guys have had some struggles defensively in the secondary? Is it just how do you kind of game plan for that? And is it just coaching better, kind of how do you address that situation going into this week?
– Well, I think as much as anything, the vertical balls we got to keep guys cut off down the field. Whether we’re in a quarter’s concept or whether we’re in a middle field man or zone concept or whatever the case may be. Switch up coverages a little bit more to maybe give him a different look. You can affect the quarterback not only by rushing the passer but changing the look for him for something he may expect and do something different, which we do a lot. We need to do in this ballgame as well. So I think that those are all things that we can do to help ourselves in continuing to mix man and zone and pattern match. But continue to mix those things up ’cause defensive football is like war. If you line up over and over again in the same spot, eventually, especially in the passing game, and they know the pitcher they’re going to give and you’re going to probably get hurt. So we got to continue to mix things up and change the pitcher. For him, that sometimes is difficult because of the tempo. You want to make sure you get your cleats in the dirt line up and you cover down, you got your eyes in the right spot. And that’s why a lot of the deception things that they create, especially with good skill, people create issues for you.
– [Reporter] Can you talk about the opportunity of going on the road this Saturday, and maybe hopefully get your team away from many distractions they’ve got right now and just being coaches and players.
– I’d love to be back in Williams-Brice Stadium playing again. That’s where we want to play. But on the schedule, we’re going to Oxford. So that’s where we’re headed.