South Carolina's Will Muschamp on Missouri, Gamecocks' Defense, More

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp talked about Missouri, what his defense has done well this season and what the win over Tennessee means to his program during the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday.

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp spoke with reporters on the Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday morning. 

Here’s what the Gamecocks coach said in advance of Saturday’s SEC contest against visiting Missouri.

On what he expects from Missouri’s defense after recent changes…

“Barry (Odom) is an outstanding football coach and defensively he’s been very good everywhere he’s been. I think that you just go back to base fundamentals when you’ve struggled some and get back to some things that your players feel comfortable with, as far as plays are concerned, and then I’m sure he will evaluate that and that’s probably what we would imagine to see, but we don’t know what that will be until game day. So we’ll have to make some adjustments on game day, but Barry does a great job.”

On the problems Missouri’s tempo and big-play ability present…

“The tempo is the fastest we’ve seen this year. On average they are right at 25 to 30 seconds on the play clock, especially early in the game. Drew Lock can make all the throws. He’s a very talented guy that has got big-time arm talent, can throw the touch throw, can zip it. But they’ve got really good speed at the wideout positions — that’s what jumps out to me. J'Mon Moore and Johnathon Johnson, Emanuel Hall, all those guys run extremely well and they take 10 to 12 shots in the game. He’s got the arm strength and the accuracy to get it there and they’ve got some guys that can finish down the field.”

On South Carolina’s defense limiting opponents’ scoring and keeping games close enough to have a chance to win…

“I’ve been really proud of the way our guys have practiced better, prepared themselves better as the year has gone on. We weren’t a great practice team on either side of the ball or on special teams starting out and just learning the preparation and what you’ve got to put into each week, each day, as far as your work habits are concerned, that’s been the most pleasing thing that our players have really bought into that part of being good on defense and understanding the preparation you have to be to be good. We do a lot of good-on-good work and I certainly think that those fastball reps are paying off for us offensively because of our youth but defensively guys continuing to understand the concepts that we play with within our defense and our scheme and guys continuing to fight. I think we’ve had very good effort, except for the Mississippi State game in the first half, especially on the defensive side of the ball the way the guys run and finish plays and just the resiliency they’ve had. We’ve played pretty good red-zone defense but we’ve been very opportunistic with turnovers.”

On whether the defense’s consistency has surprised him this season…

“Again I think we’ve been very opportunistic. We haven’t given up a bunch of chunk big plays. The UMass game jumps out at you. The Mississippi State game jumps out at you on the quarterback run, which was a missed tackle at the line of scrimmage. At UMass we busted a coverage. But past that, we haven’t given up the huge, easy, cheap scores and we’ve been pretty opportunistic with turnovers. We’ve been able to gain possession of the ball back, because we have not been a great third-down defense and we’ve played really well in the red zone. So I think all those things combined. I think we have six red-zone turnovers on the season or five. That was one of the things in camp, knowing that we weren’t going to be an overly dominant unit on defense, we needed to play really well in the red zone and we have to get turnovers, we’ve got to be opportunistic. And those things have happened for us.”

On what a win over a Top 25 team like Tennessee does for the team and program going forward…

“I think that it gives your players confidence that you play a really good football team and when we play well and we play together and we play complementing each other in all three phases that we can accomplish some really good things. … We still have a lot of corrections to make from the game and we have a long way to go. You keep those things in perspective but you can still coach really hard off of the tape after a win and the guys have continued to have belief in what we’re doing schematically in all three phases.”

On what that feeling was like getting a win like that…

“That doesn’t matter about me. I’m happy for our players and I’m happy for our fan base.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at

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