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VIDEOS: Missouri Week Football Media Availability
Football  . 

VIDEOS: Missouri Week Football Media Availability

Gamecocks Host Tigers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network Alternate

Interim head football coach Mike Bobo spoke with reporters on a Zoom call Tuesday as the Gamecocks prepare to host Missouri on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network Alternate. Connor Shaw, who is now serving as the Gamecocks’ quarterbacks coach, also spoke.

COACH BOBO TRANSCRIPT

– [Reporter] Hey coach. I know the news just dropped that publicly that Israel is opting out. Have any of their players come to you and said, besides Israel and Jaycee, and said that they’re going to opt out and not play out the rest of the season?

– We’ve had four individuals, Israel, Jaycee, R.J.¬†Roderick and Makius Scott on top of the three that opted out early in the season. So seven total.

– [Reporter] And then Scott would be a transfer and Roderick professional or they just said they’re opting out for the rest-

– They said they’re opting out for COVID reasons and personal reasons. Didn’t get into it. You know that NCAA has granted people the option to opt out and so there’s really nothing you can do about it.

– [Reporter] Hey Mike, thanks for doing this. When you met with the team this morning, just what’d you talk to them about, what was the tone of that meeting? What was their attitude going on to the practice?

– We talked about it being about us. We talked about it’s not an individual sport, it’s a team sport and the people that are in this room today showed up and are ready to go to work, and we’re going to put our best foot forward and put our best effort on the field on Saturday. And the only way that’s going to happen is not through words, but through action and having a good practice today, win tomorrow. And those are our two workdays Tuesday and Wednesday. So that was the main message

– [Reporter] Hey coach, since yesterday when we met saying about how you hadn’t had a chance to get into Missouri’s game plan, what did you feel like you’ve been able to accomplish as far as getting ready for the game on Saturday?

– Well, you know, I think Missouri, first of all, just looking at their defense, I’ll speak to that side of the ball first. They’re going to commit to stopping the run and that’s obviously been our strong suit this year, it’s the run game. But it really doesn’t matter who they play. If they packed a box, they base off of an odd defense and they’ll reduce it down to what you call a Bear Defense or some of you might know as 46 Defense. What you know if no bears used to play today and they’re going to play man-to-man coverage outside. They do a lot of movement inside, some line games, very similar to Texas A&M, which gave us some problems upfront in blocking some of that movement. Presented a really, really difficult challenge. Linebacker Bolton, I believe his name number 32 is one of the best linebackers that we faced all year. One of the best linebackers I’ve seen in a long time. He’s very active. He can run. He will strike you. They do a good job of protecting him and keeping lobbing off of him. You know in the back end they played man-to-man, Rakestraw, the young quarter number two, very good player, who’s committed to being at Colorado State for a while. He’s got length, he’s got range. The other corner number eight also has length is very very, very, very handsy. Does a good job. Their nose guard, Kobie Whiteside is not the biggest guy but he’s extremely strong and can push the pocket. It’s a little bit of a matchup problem for our center. Offensively, he does a great job. Eliah does a great job of spreading you out, but also giving you some two back run game principles, major heavily in the stretch game. Like to get on the edge of your defense and stretch you out and then run enough counter. Not your traditional counter when they pull the guard and the tight end which you see nowadays, it’s the old school counter which is probably more traditional. The guard tackle counter, do a really good job of that. They have enough you quarterback run to keep you honest. And I know they’ve had issues on both sides of the ball with COVID, but they’ve had skill step up and make plays. Number nine, it’s one of the fastest guys I’ve seen on tape in the quarterbacks in accurate player. So it’s a big challenge for us. They haven’t played since the Florida game. So they’ve been off for a couple of weeks. They’ve got some guys back from what I’m reading. So I’m sure they’re rested and healthy. So it’s going to be a big challenge for us and we’re going to have to play very well in this game.

– [Reporter] Mike you mentioned yesterday that it had been a long year for these kids. Do you think that was part of the reason you’ve had four guys leave under these circumstances this week?

– Well, I think that obviously could attribute to it. I can’t speak personally for each one of those guys ’cause you don’t know exactly what’s going on with each individual. Now there was communication with all these guys. I mean it’s been a long year, it’s a different year. And you know it’s told to two young kids that, “Hey, you don’t have to play this year, you can opt out and it doesn’t count.” It gives them a way out, in my opinion. And you know, it’s like anything human nature, I’ll put it off till later, I’ll start working harder later in the spring or I’ll wait till next year. Unfortunately, I think this isn’t the only place that coaches are having issues with a long season and the ability to opt out. And I think that’s why it’s so important that it is a team game, it is about us. It’s not about you individually. And even everybody’s got their own reasons of why they do it and there’s no hard feelings to anybody. But the guys that are here, it’s got to be about us and not the individual.

– [Reporter] Do you have any indication that you’ll hear from more or do you think this is it?

– I think this is it, but you never know. We’ve had communication with all the guys the last two days, with coaches individually, with their position groups, one-on-one, myself with a number of guys and I felt like these guys want to play and play for each other. And now we got to have a good week of practice and get ready to play Saturday night. But you never know, to be honest.

– [Reporter] Travaris, from an immediate impact standpoint, Travaris has lost three starting defensive backs. Do you know what he plans to do just to fill the group back there?

– Yeah. We’ve moved Zaquandre White to defensive back to play a little safety for us. Today was his first day at that position, we have three games left. I talked to him yesterday, myself and coach Robinson about the move. And he wants to be a running back and he is a runner back, but he’s one of our best athletes. He does a great job since we’ve moved him to gunner on special teams, and very, very energetic. Loves playing ball and trying to get him on that side and get him active. Jordan Rhodes, we’ve moved to defensive line to help with a depth there and a little bit of a size issue we have upfront. I mean, our guys are playing their tails off, but they’re planning to play a lot of snaps and we’re a little bit under sized up front. So trying to get some more beef up upfront. And there’s lots of different ways to skin a cat, right now we’re trying to figure out that. Coach T Robin is stuff right now of what we can do to be aggressive and stop the run ’cause he is committed to the run. But it’ll be good in the backend. And I think you got to mix things up. Anybody, if you play the same thing over and over they’re going to take advantage of you. So we’re getting a good plan of we want to be aggressive, but at the same time, not give up the big play. I mean last week we gave up those big huge explosives, which will kill anybody. You make a team go 14 place, usually they’re going to self-destruct and then Ole Miss was a little bit and we let them off the hook in some cases when they had to go 14 place. So we need to make the team go the long haul and earn it.

– [Reporter] Mike, two questions for you, is T Rob still planning on calling the defense this week?

– Yes.

– [Reporter] And I guess, how would you evaluate Collin Hill’s performance this year and what have you seen him do well and not do so well?

– First of all, he plays a position that all eyes are on. And we all know the nature of the position, we talk about it in our room, I’ve talked about it in my room since I started coaching. When things are going well, you’re the best thing since sliced bread. And when they’re not, no matter what’s happening it’s the quarterback’s fault. That’s the way it goes. I think he has played well. There’ve been some times that we’d like to have a playback here or there, but that’s any quarterback you watch, whether you’re watching them on Saturday or Sunday. They’re saying sometimes the play, you’d like to have plays over. Bottom line is, we need to play better around our quarterback. That’s the bottom line. We need to make some contested catches. We haven’t made a contested catch all year besides Shi Smith one catch against Auburn. We haven’t made those. And, last week I thought he played, he was very, very efficient, played his best game. He had one pass that got away from him on a fade route where we should have released outside but we went inside, we got to see that and we got to paint the ball on him. And then we had RPO run concept that we should have handed off. Other than that, he put us in the right position. He was flawless, he was accurate. He did a nice job. And there’s hundreds of things that we go over offensively and I go over coach in that position that we can do better on a daily basis in a game and we’re all striving to get better. But I think he’s played well. I think we need to play better around him. And I thought we did a little bit of that last week.

– [Reporter] Hey coach, when we talked to you yesterday you were already facing a big challenge especially well, making sure that the guys are focused after just the emotional day of saying goodbye to coach Muschamp. And now with four of their teammates leaving is that challenge even bigger for you? Because, you know, in addition to getting the team ready to play another football game, maybe you have to make sure their minds, their heads are in the right place. Because I imagine after past few days their heads are just continuing to swirl a little bit.

– No question Rick. It’s a challenge enough, when you got to take over, you’re not the head coach, you’re an interim coach and you step in, and then it’s a challenge. And this year with what we’re dealing with with kids being able to opt out at any moment. But so that’s why. We usually do a team meeting because of COVID we have to do it in the indoor and we usually do it after meetings. We started the day with that this morning at 7:30 in the morning and basically addressed the things that you’re talking about. The guys that are here are here, no ill will to anybody that’s not here but the guys that are here are here. We’re here for a reason, we have a great opportunity in the face of adversity to rise up. And that’s what defines you is when you’re able to rise up and handle adversity. And it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to create memories in this group, in this family. And so those are the things that we talked about. And again, they can’t be words and I can say what I want to say. It’s got to come from those guys that are still here on this team to dig down and believe in play for each other and play play for South Carolina.

– [Reporter] Mike, I know throughout training camp what would tell us here and there that practices are pretty well. There wasn’t a day in terms of saying, “Hey pick things up.” It felt pretty good throughout training camp and throughout the season, how was practice today in terms of how the guys just handled things? And was there ever a moment you had to stop things and just say, “Hey guys, we’re all in this together or anything like that?”

– No, I didn’t, I didn’t stop practice. But it wasn’t good enough to beat Missouri. I’ll tell you that, and I told them that. And can’t flip a switch on Saturday night and say you’re ready to play. So we got to have better practice tomorrow.

– [Reporter] Coach, obviously with everything going on, there’s maybe a lot of pressures that you’re feeling. How do you navigate and deal with that going into this weekend?

– Well I think pressure is a privilege. You’re put in a position that’s a situation that has pressure. I liked that feeling. I like having our backs against the wall. I hated our performance against Texas A&M offensively. You know the worst day a coaching career offensively as an offensive coach it’s a lot of pressure. And I probably talked to our kids about our offenses and how are we going to respond to that pressure. Are we going to respond? Are we going to fold up as my dad used to say, we’re going to fold up like a cheap tent, same thing here. I would go respond to the pressures that we have that to play three more games. You embrace that pressure by going out and preparing and having fun. Connor Shaw you have to ask him the direct quote when you talk to him. But we do it like a little divo, motivational in the quarterback room. And I had to step out. And when he was right, when he was starting it ’cause I forgot to do my COVID test this morning. So I had to run downstairs and do mine and it was about enthusiasm and having fun and how it affects pressure. So you might need to ask him about that. But it’s basically, you go out and you prepare and you go out and play in a game. If you prepare the right way and you go out and you have fun, that eliminates the pressure. And that takes care of the pressure when you’re prepared.

– [Reporter] Hey coach, thanks for doing this today. Just kind of going back to, you said earlier that you guys needed to play better around Collin Hill, the receivers needed to play better. Well, Kevin Jackson–

– You just said receivers. I didn’t say receivers. You said receivers, but.

– [Reporter] Oh, sorry about that. Yeah, yeah, yeah my bad. Just the guys around Collin Hill need to play better. Well, Kevin Harris had a really good game against Ole Miss, Shi Smith had a really good game. Two-part question, tell me about who are some of the other guys who you feel kind of need to step up to play better around Collin Hill and then two, going into the game against Mizzou can we expect to two or three quarterback system with Hill, Doty and possibly Ryan Hilinski playing?

– I’m not going to get it in our plan for the game plan offensive of the quarterback position whether we’re going to use more than one. As far as stepping up, that’s all is protection. It’s all 10 guys around him doing their job. It’s making a play that’s not perfect. That’s some things that we struggle to do if things aren’t perfect, we don’t make the play. We got to get tied into more involved and that was not necessarily their fault last week, it was a little bit of mine I didn’t get them involved as normally as much as have in the past. And then we’ve got to get help at the outside receiver. Xavier Legette, God bless him. Has been banged up all year. He missed last game again, he didn’t practice today. I don’t know what the number is, but outside receivers catching balls is very very minimum. When your offenses is centered around a running game and a slot receiver, it makes it difficult for anybody. So outside receiver presence and ability to make plays on the outside has been a thorn on our side offensively, we got to keep giving them opportunities. And I need to give them more opportunities as a play caller, to make some plays and have opportunities to make contested catches. But we got to get help outside. When you’re tied in your slot, all your threats and your tailback. I mean it helps the defense in a lot of ways.

– [Reporter] Mike, two part question. First of all, you mentioned that RPO that Colin should have handed off, what exactly were the mechanics and what went wrong on that one? And also, what did you kind of learn about Ryan and about Collin as they went through that kind of reopened quarterback thing last week?

– I’m not get… The RPO, it was PR press coverage and we should have handed it on first press. It’s a mistake that we made. And when in a game like that, it’s back and forth. I thought it was 45, 42 at the time and we need to answer. It was magnified and those things happen. But made a lot of nice plays to get us to that point. Just that that one play, it was magnified and we didn’t answer. ‘Cause the end of the day, offense your job’s to score more points than them. And nobody pat nobody on the back, we didn’t do our job. We needed to score more points than them. As far as competing and opening it up the competition last week, it was a challenge made to them that and this is exactly what coach said to him, that we got to play better around a quarterback, but we got to play better at quarterback, go open it up and all three guys could play. And Collin answered that challenge and he played very well in the game and there was not a need for us to play anybody else in the game. And I’ma say this, okay? The best guy at every position is going to play in a game, period. They gives us the best chance to win. I’ve been coaching for a long time and I’ve been coaching quarterbacks for a long time. I’m not an expert or a guru, but I know what it takes to win at that position and get things done.

– [Reporter] Hey Mike, a couple of for you. One, have you guys heard any indication that Missouri might still be reeling from their COVID test last week or go for Saturday night?

– No, I had coach George Wynn check after the Sunday test, and feels like, I think we’re good to go but we tested again this morning, our results aren’t back. They test on, I think they test on Tuesday. So those things could change at any moment. Right now, my conversations with Ray Tanner and coach Wynn lead up till through yesterday was we’re good to go, but those things could change today.

– [Reporter] And also Aaron Sterling and Brad Johnson miss the Ole Miss game. Will they be back this week?

– No, they are out and injured. They’re out for the year.

– [Reporter] Hey coach, yesterday you mentioned just kind of how your preparation changes having to assume the roles of head coach while also worried about the offense. I’m just curious on game day, how your role looks different on the sidelines having to worry about the offense while also doing everything else that head coach has to do during a game.

– Well, that’s one of the reasons why one of the appointments for the 10th coach was Connor Shaw to have communication with the quarterbacks and relay some things that might to be drawn up, talked about whether he’s in the box or on the sidelines sitting next to him. I haven’t decided that, I can’t walk over there. And sometimes I’ve done that, being a head coach in commonplace at Colorado State, you do have to go over there and show some guys some stuff that you want to make sure you get it exactly right. But Connor communicate with them between series, I’ll be listening and talking. But it got to be locked in and what’s going on defensively and game management. So that will be a change. Where you normally in a game I don’t hardly see any of the defensive ’cause I’m either drawing something or talking to a player so you don’t see much of what’s going on defensively.

– [Reporter] Coach, the players who are injured on the defense and offense, and now four players who are opting out for the rest of the season, what’s that conversation like with the next man up who steps up and asked to take over for that position?

– Well, you basically said it, it’s next man up. It’s the opportunity that you’ve been working for in practice. And you tell these kids all the time it doesn’t matter if when season starts whether you’re on scout team or you’re third team or your second team you got to continue to work to improve because if you’re not, when your opportunity comes, you’re not going to be ready. Your opportunity is not when somebody goes down and they put you in, your opportunities every day to improve as a football player, to improve doing your job, to help your side of the ball, whether it’s a role on special teams whether it’s playing scout team. So that’s the message. If you’re not ready this week, because somebody went down then you’ve wasted the last six months or five months, however long we’ve been practicing and playing, it seems like forever. And you’re going to let your team down. So we’ve got to figure out through these practices who’s ready for that moment and who can go out there and be productive and put ourselves in position to be productive to move the ball offensively or to do their job defensively where it won’t hurts the defense or hurt the team.

– [Reporter] Hey Mike, I guess talking to you Rob, who’s going to start at those two cornerback positions with JC and Izzy obviously opting out. And how confident is he in y’all’s conversations that some of the struggles defensively can be turned down.

– We’re still in the process of figuring that out. Obviously Cam and John, Dixon have played a lot of corner. They’ve been playing a lot of corner. Cam had the injury with his heel, but they’ve been playing a lot of corner all year. Izzy has played a little bit of safety and JC playing nickel. So they’ve got reps at corner. Right now I would say it would be those two, but guys like Joey Hunter who’s repping and Rush who’s repping. And they’re competing out there. For planning, we’re looking for guys that are going out there and going to play their tails off for each other right now and they can function and do a job.

– [Reporter] Okay, okay okay. All right, I know you like video coach, I’m trying to get that. I don’t mean to scare you there. So you had two of your leaders, well, four guys opt out, but two in particular, the two leaders on defense. So Shi Smith has been a leader for you I guess for the overall team and on offense as well in particular, what have your conversations been like with him considering he’s having a great year and is looking to the draft as well. Did you have to talk with him to convince him to stay? Did that ever come up or has he been a hundred percent all in with you since this happened?

– I’ll tell you what? I’ve been proud of Shi Smith. And you hear a lot of things when you take over a place and you know what guy has been, and we’ve challenged Shi since day one and he’s responded. Is he perfect? No, nobody is, none of us are sitting here, me talking or none of these players. But I’ve been proud of how he’s competed. I’ve been proud of the way he’s been a good team guy when the ball is not coming to him. And funny you ask that question. On the plane ride home, nobody was in the seat next to him. He was on the plane early and I just went over there, and talk to him about how proud I was of him, how he’s worked and what he’s got to continue to do to improve himself, not only for this team but for down the road. And kind of the message to Shi since we got here has been, it’s not about you, it’s about the team. And it was about the team, your play, all right? Will improve greatly. If it was just about you, your plays going to suffer and the team plays is going to suffer. And that was the message to the team this morning. It’s not about you, it’s not about me. It’s not about coach T Rob, it’s not about coach Wolf, it’s about us. And so that’s the message. I want guys that says it’s about us to take a field with. And then if we do that and we work hard and they lay it on the line then you put your head down at night and go to sleep and have some peace about, you prepared them and you got two guys out there fight their tails off.

– [Reporter] Coach, obviously it’s not under the circumstances you wanted, but how timely is it to have someone like Connor Shaw be on the field and someone that can relate, he’s been working with the players directly in a different aspect this season?

– Well I like it. One, he’s been here since coach hired him, since Marcus left to pursue other things and he’s done a great job building a rapport with the guys. He’s always around those guys. Obviously he spent more time around me and the quarterbacks ’cause that’s the position he plays naturally drawn to that. But I think the guys respect him because of who he’s been since he’s been here. Obviously they see his picture in the indoor. They know he’s the all time leading quarterback and in South Carolina history. But I think the respect for him it goes how treats everybody on a daily basis and it’s about them and not him. So I think that level of respect he earned since he’d been here. The other part I like is that he’s an alumni here. He’s an alumni here in this program. He’s got pride in South Carolina. So his pride is going to show through. Not a problem that it show through the offense ’cause that’s who will be around this week but I guess it’s always good when you’ve got guys that play here and have more pride in what’s going on.

– [Reporter] Yeah, with Zaquandre, excuse me. It seems like he’s always had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. What does it say to you about him as a player and a person to be willing to not only have that positive attitude when he’s third string running back coming in to compete for the job, but also go and move over to safety switch sides of the ball on the drop of a dime like that.

– I love it, I told him yesterday when I met with him. I love that kid ’cause he’s got heart. Obviously he wants to be to a start running back. Obviously he wants to get a chance to get in the game and carry the ball but that doesn’t affect how he practices. You guys can’t see practices. This guy is the best practice player we have. It doesn’t affect his enthusiasm on the sideline. It doesn’t affect how he covers kickoffs or covers punts. He wants to be there, don’t get me wrong. He wants to be that but he said, I want to do those things, those special teams and try to build the confidence up that coach Kitchings to having me and you to having me to put me in the game a runner back. I know I lost some confidence with, you know I fumble, I’m trying to earn that back. And I want to be a runner back, but if that’s what we need, I’ll do it, I’ll do it. And I said, that’s why I came to you. I want to get you on the field and have an opportunity to play. And now we got to see how these two guys go. If he’s going to go over there and we don’t feel like it’s a chance for him to play then he’s going to come back. ‘Cause the worst thing you do is ask a guy to move and then the opportunity doesn’t present itself on that side of the field. So the main thing, it goes back to being honest and transparent with him with what we think of him as a coach at deposition. But as far as heart and loving the game, he’s the kind of guy you want on your team.

– [Reporter] Mike, two questions. First of all, with kind of all this change over how much extra responsibility is Joe Cox taking on? And then also you mentioned kind of the lack of outside receiver production. With sort of that reality, have you been able to run the full offensive scheme that you kind of want it to or is that fact limited at all?

– As far as Joe Cox, he’s taken over a huge role. He’s in there with the offense right now going over some of the practice clips and some form basis stuff. We still have some situations to get done and work on third down and red zone, that’s part of what we do today. Joe’s been with me, he actually played for me but out at Colorado State, as a graduate assistant and as an assistant coach, and he’s seen this offense of all from what it was when he played to where it is now and everything in between. So the adjustments that I would make for certain things he knows those and knows the answers. So really, really glad that I have Joe here. And another offensive staff guys have been all in. They’ve been great. If I ask them to do some different things that they haven’t done before. You know, just take last week, the run game we did last week was totally different than probably a run game that coach Wolf is used to, and we balled in, got the kit… And one thing for me to say it but the position coach has got to get the kids to believe and those kids believed and they played the way you want them to play. They believe that we were going to have sets running because they believed in the plan because coach Wolf believed in the plan, and that’s part of everything. What was the other question? I’m sorry

– [Reporter] Just with kind of, you mentioned sort of the limited production on the outside.

– Yeah. Well, it’s a lot different. I mean, you just look at the production over the years. You usually have an extra saver boundaries receiver that’s close to 80 to a hundred catches in this office. Now we’re different because of 10 game season and all that but the production has went elsewhere. And then it’s lacking some production because we’re not getting, most of the production is tailback. Tailbacks, slot receiver and a bit tight end, and that’s partly on me, Ben. And I told those guys, I said, after the A&M game, I told them I said, it’s about building. It’s about trust, all right? You trust that what we’re doing and believe in that and me trusting you, it goes both ways. I can’t ask you to trust me if I don’t trust you and give you an opportunity. So we gave more opportunities this Saturday we’re going to continue to give more opportunities but we got to make some of those plays and those opportunities. People used to call it 50 50 balls but they’re not 50 50 balls anymore. They’re like 70 30 is what teams coach catch when they throw it outside versus contested because of ball placement and back shoulder. And then you know, if guys get hazy, you get interference call, so it’s not really such thing as a 50 50 ball. We’re probably at… I mean, I don’t know what our percentage is, it’s not very good. I wish we were 50 50.

– [Reporter] Hello Mike, more of a lighthearted question that we will enjoy talking about it this time of the year. I know your son like Will, he’s getting ready for a state championship this week and you know this has been obviously a different year for Drew in terms of moving across country and being able to play for former USC quarterback like Eric Camry. What has that experience been like watching that as a father and what do you think come State Championship night?

– Yeah, I’m excited for him. I think it’s been a good change for him to be here to South, to work for, not work, to play for coach Camry and coach Barnes. Two guys that played here at South Carolina but played the game and know the game. And I’ve seen so much improvement for him and usually see improvement from guys when they go to the 10th and 11th grade year. But just fundamentally, he’s having fun. And you want kids to have a good experience. My thing is I always, I don’t ask any football questions of scheme they’re running I just want to see his ass play hard. You better play hard, you better play for your team and it’s not about you. That’s all I ever say. I watch it every time we’re on the road. After I finished our meetings I’ll go up and I’m watching it. And it’s, are you playing hard? As you play it hard and you play it for the team and doing your job, you’re going to have fun. And that’s great, they made a State Championship. I know he’s excited. He’s come close to a lot of guys over there especially coach Muschamp’s son even though he’s a little bit younger. So I think it’s good that those two are even together. Now they’re both going through a difficult time right now ’cause it’s hard on kids, is hard on families. Those kids don’t know whether they’re going to go to school next year. And that’s tough time. That’s the nature of this business, is the nature of this profession. At the same time, there’s a lot of great things that come out of this profession that your kids get to be around too.

– [Reporter] Hey coach. Talk to us a little bit about Kevin Harris. Kevin Harris had an all time performance against Ole Miss on Saturday night. And it seems like that’s obviously has been forgotten over these past couple of days. So talk to me what his morale is like right now and just, yeah, what was been the conversations that you’ve had with him this week.

– I haven’t personally sat down with Kevin and talked to him this week, but talking to coach Kitchings and talking to coach Wolford. The morale is high, the offense line and the tight ends and Adam Prentice, they’re excited that they’ve got a guy that get it close to a thousand yards. I think he’s up there in the conference and rushing yards. And that’s a badge of honor for all of us. You know those that a lot of screamers in that fullback at tight ends and Kevin, he’s excited about it and you could see him getting stronger and stronger as the year goes on. Just been really proud of him. He’s been patient in his runs. We worked really hard on those runs than we worked last week. There were a little bit different scheme and a little bit different tracks. And early in the week, we weren’t hitting them but coach did a great job of coaching them up on the looks they would get, the tracks that were going to happen and how are we going to block it. It’s one thing to just hand the ball with a run but if you know how we’re trying to block things and why we’re checking it, you’ve got a chance to do what we did the other night and divide runs. And the thing about Kevin, if you get him an open space he’s shown not just at one game, time and time again to take it to the house. And you can’t say enough about that. I mean a lot of times over the years we block for 10, I got 14 or block for 20 and we got 25 or we don’t get that home run. I mean, this guys is taking the ball to the house and that’s a credit to him and that’s a credit to that whole lot, coach Wolf, those kids, that’s a credit to coach Bentley, and those tight ends, that’s a credit to coach Kitchings, fullback I mean receivers blocking downfield, quarterbacks in are in a right play. I mean I think we looked it up the other day it’s like 67% of his yards are yards before contact. And that’s doing a good job at the point of attack. I mean that’s a huge number of yards before contact yards.

– [Reporter] Over the past few weeks coach, have you noticed the morale and energy and enthusiasm of the team kind of shift with all these changes going on?

– Well I mean, I think I said it, I don’t know if I said you guys, but when you lose it’s bad for team morale, it is. Winning is good for team morale and we haven’t played well and we’ve lost and morale is, you know, it’s human nature, you get down. But kids are resilient, kids are resilient and they’re going to bounce back. And it’s been a tough two weeks it’s been a tough two days for these kids, and we’re going to bounce back. They’re going to respond. We’re going to rally the troops and those guys have got to rally each other and go out and play well. ‘Cause nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, okay? Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you in life when things don’t go your way either, it’s how you respond to those challenges. And that’s my message. I want guys that want to respond and want to fight and try to finish this thing off the right way.

– [Reporter] Yeah Mike. Now that you’re interim head coach, do you change any way you guys practice? You guys do anything from a logistical standpoint and kind of how do you plan on handling Sundays after games?

– I ain’t got that far yet. But this week Tuesday and Wednesday, Monday was our off day, but Tuesday and Wednesday are workdays. Today was my first second day on and tomorrow would be more situational stuff, red zone, third down, stuff that we got to work in for situations, obviously special teams in both days. Thursday will be a total walkthrough. We will not go on the field on Thursday, we won’t be in helmets, will be a total walkthrough. I feel like we’re a little bit banged up. Obviously we’re banged up, we’re short guys with guys opting out. So we’re going to walk through on Thursday and then we’re going to come back Friday and do it I’m going to call a fast Friday. Thursday is a no sweat. Thursday we won’t sweat, Friday will be a fast Friday on the field. We’ll hit offense, defense and run through all the special teams at game speed. We won’t be able to feel them all but it’ll be fast game speed type stuff. And then Saturday, I think we’re going to come over here and actually walk through over here and allow the kids to get in the cold tubs, hot tubs, since it’s a long day at the hotel. There’s nothing more miserable than sitting at the hotel all day. So that’d be a little bit different whether we go on Sunday or not, I haven’t decided.

– [Reporter] Yeah Mike, three quick things. The guys who opted out, will they be welcomed on the sidelines for the last two home games? Secondly, what have you guys heard back from your committed players at this point? Anybody telling you that they’re not sticking? And thirdly, you do have two home games left. What do you hope to see from the fans that will turn out for these last two home games?

– Okay. Number one, when you opt out it’s the rule, of the university rule is that you’re no longer part of the program. Because we have strict protocols and strict guidelines for COVID. So when you opt out, you’re still going to school, you’re doing them a cheer, you’re on your own, you’re not around the guys. They check in with coach Wynn and they’re academic people, but they’re not in the building and will not be on the sideline. Second one was.. What was the second one? I can’t hear, I’m deaf.

– Recruits, okay. All right, the recruits, yeah we’ve been communicating to guys. I’ve talked to a couple of guys. I’ve been texting a lot of guys. That’s the way these guys communicate now. And like I said, I think it was yesterday I talked to you guys, it’s about being honest and transparent where we’re at that coaches, having a coach in search, encourage the guys to be patient and see what’s happening and encourage the guys that this is a great place. And you chose this place for a number of reasons. Obviously coach Muschamp was one of them, but just being honest and saying opportunities is there and we’re going to honor your scholarship. And if you want to sign on the 16th, we’re going to take your NLI. Last thing is, what I want to see from the fans? I mean, I want to see from our team go out and play hard and play together. I mean, that’s what I want to see. Mark Richt used to say, his mom doesn’t know football but she knows if we’re playing hard. So I want Mark Richt’s mom, if she’s watching to say boy, that team playing hard. Fans are fans, and I’m going to say this about fans, okay? This is passion place, okay? Here at South Car, passion and SEC that’s what it makes the SEC what it is. And there’s no running from it. You’re never going to please everybody. Your job is to do the best job you could do and try to put the product on the field to win games. The passion of SEC football is what makes SEC football great. All right.