Will Muschamp on facing Clemson: "We need to win the game"
|Wednesday, November 27, 2019, 2:54 PM- -|
South Carolina has been on the losing end of the Palmetto Bowl for the past five years and the Gamecocks are hoping to turn the rivalry back in their favor when they square off with Clemson at noon on Saturday.
Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp met with the media earlier this week and said this rivalry is important to everyone in the state, especially those at the University of South Carolina.
“Clemson week. Kickoff here at noon. Williams-Brice Stadium,” Muschamp said during his weekly press conference. “Obviously, honored to be a part of one of the great rivalries in college football. Very important to our state, and important to the University of South Carolina. And we had a good practice this morning. The guys bouncing around, they feel that vibe during this week, and we're looking forward to it.”
Much like Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Muschamp likened the rivalry to that of the one in the Yellowhammer State.
“Very similar to Auburn-Alabama,” Muschamp said. “In that state, there are no pro teams. You're either South Carolina or Clemson in this state, for the most part. And very similar to that state. And it means a lot, yeah.”
When Muschamp took over as head coach of the Gamecocks four years ago, he said the talent gap was wide but last year’s game came down to running the ball.
“Well, I've felt like skill-wise the first couple years, we had a hard time matching up on the perimeter on both sides,” he said. “And then last year, they won the line of scrimmage. We had a hard time running the ball. I think we ended up with 90 or something yards rushing. I think we hit a late run. And we couldn't stop the run. And I think that as much as anything is where we've made some improvements this year with our football team.”
From day one, fans have told Muschamp to beat Clemson and he said he knows they need to win the game regardless of what’s happened during the previous 11 games.
“You know, I don't know that that's what we're necessarily after,” he said. I think we're after the fact this is a great rivalry and we need to win the game. As far as how it affects our season, I'm not totally, that's not something I'm going to focus on with our team. I'm going to focus on the fact that this is a great rivalry and we need to do a better job. And we need to win the game.”
On Clemson’s offense
“Got a good football team. Led on offense by Trevor Lawrence. He's completing right at 70% of his passes. You know, a guy that can obviously hurt you with his legs. He's a really good athlete. They use some of the zone read and some of the designed quarterback runs, but elite arm talent. Can make all the throws. Just really impressed watching him and a really competitive guy when you turn the tape on. At running back, Travis Etienne is an outstanding player. A guy that's got really good vision and sees a hole and hits things north and south and has been very explosive. And then also as a receiver, but in the run game, and Lyn-J Dixon's done a nice job for 'em from Georgia.
“Big, very big, long athletic group at wideout. You know, Tee Higgins and (Diondre) Overton and (Justyn) Ross, Frank Ladson and Ngata are all 6'3, 6'4, 200 plus guys that do a great job of attacking the ball down the field. Amari Rodgers is not as big but as a stature-wise a muscle guy in the slot and does a nice job for them. But they've got a talented bunch outside. And the offensive line's athletic and talented and Robbie does a great job with those guys. Tremayne Anchrum, the right tackle, is a very athletic, the left side of their line. John Simpson and Jackson Carman have done a really nice job for them offensively.”
On Clemson’s defense
“Defensively, you know, really as you start to watch the tape, I think your eyes kind of drift to the back end. Obviously, with DK (Derion Kendrick) and AJ Terrell, two really talented corners that can cover man to man, have good instincts in zone, made a lot of plays for them this year. The safety position, and Brent (Venables) has done a good job of co-mingling those guys in some different areas. Tanner Muse, obviously Nick's brother's been there. A guy that's logged a lot of time. He and K'Von Wallace are two guys that have made a lot of plays for those guys, played a lot of football. And then Denzel Washington (Johnson) and Nolan Turner are two guys as well that have played a lot of football for 'em. And they put 'em in some different packages to get those guys all on the field at the same time.
“But the one guy that stands out's Isaiah Simmons. 6'4, 230. Plays anywhere from defensive end to linebacker, deep safety, he's a good blitzer, he's got really good instincts off the ball, can play man to man. But he is a vast skill set and a long rangy guy that gets his hand on a lot of balls. And he's a ball hog type of guy, but a really good football player. And then they rotate and play a lot of guys up front. And obviously, losing the front they had last year, they've done a nice job there”