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Tuesday Tidbits: Will Muschamp talks Texas A&M, Gamecocks’ quarterback situation

Muschamp tackled what we’ve all been dying to know since Saturday.

Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

Coach Will Muschamp met with the media for his weekly press conference on Tuesday, previewing Texas A&M a bit but largely focusing on what everyone’s been dying to hear more about: South Carolina’s quarterback situation. The highlights:

First, an injury update

“Jake [Bentley] practiced today. I thought he looked good. If he’s healthy for Saturday, he’ll be the starter. I’ve told Jake and Mike [Scarnecchia] to be ready to go. We got two guys we can win with and that’s good to have. J.T. Ibe is gonna be out. [DJ] Wonnum has started some jogging, but willl be out for the game. AJ Turner is questionable and Eldridge Thompson is having surgery on Thursday.”

On how Bentley is progressing after his injury

“He looked good today. I think he’s gonna be fine. We’ll continue to look at some mobility things tomorrow. I’m never going to put a young man in a situation where he can’t protect himself, and he couldn’t have Saturday. Mike performed really well and is a guy that we had a lot of confidence in going into the game and even more so, obviously, after it. At the end of the day, we’ll make decisions in the game to win the game.”

On his level of confidence with Bentley

“Well, he’s played a lot of really good football for us. He’s got a lot of experience and I think he’s played really well. Obviously Mike’s got a smaller sample set and played well with his opportunity, but I’m making a decision that I think helps us win. We’ve got two guys that I have confidence we can win with. I feel comfortable with both guys.”

On penalties and how they impact success

“I never want to hold a player back from his personality and who he is, but you can’t hurt your football team and make silly decisions and lose your composure. It affects the next series, it affects the next five plays, because you’re not really making rational decisions when you lose your composure. ... We’ve had way too many self-inflicted wounds. That’s something we’re not going to tolerate. It’s been frustrating to have. But again, is there a correlation between winning a championship and penalties? There’s really not. But you’ve gotta be a good enough team to overcome that.”

On the run defense

“I think it’s not one thing you put your finger on and say, ‘Eureka, here we go.’ It’s misfits at times, whether it’s from a secondary positions or a linebacker position, getting bounced out of a gap at times, leveraging the ball and tackling. ... We’ve given up tremendous amounts of yardage by not tackling at the second level. It’s been a little bit of an issue at the safety position, it’s been some at the corner position, and some at the nickel position. We work on tackling every single day that we’re in pads. It’s something you have to do well in order to be a good defense. You go back and look at the Missouri game, they did some good things in the run game and they caught us in some numbers at times. They got a hat on a hat and you’ve got to defeat a block at times. You’ve got to defeat a block and make a tackle and we didn’t do that enough times.”

On the biggest difference between Bentley and Scarnecchia

“I think they’re very similar players. As far as calling the game and what we carry into a game, they’re very similar as far as those things are concerned. But when you evaluate that, you can’t take experience out of it, that’s part of it.”

On Jaycee Horn’s development

“Maturity would be the first word. Obviously God’s blessed him with a lot of ability, but really mature when you’re in the meeting room, when you’re in walk-throughs; very focused, very dialed in to what he needs to do to be successful and be a good football player. For a young player, that’s really important to have that maturity to understand when you dial in. Some of them have a hard time keeping their focus over extended periods of time or consecutively day-to-day operations, so that’s the one thing that jumps out at me. No moment’s too big, he handles the moment very well regardless of the situation. ... He certainly raises the level of the guys around him.”

On Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State teams vs. this year’s Texas A&M squad

“Obviously this is his first year and he’s still recruiting to what schemtically he wants to be and that takes time. Traditoinal two-back run game, multiple tight-end sets as far as their twelve personnel groupings, a lot of concepts run-game wise and pass-game wise are very similar. Those things are going to carry over, that’s who you are as a coach, and then you adapt. One thing Jimbo does a great job of is adapting to what he has with his players. ... We go a long way back to LSU spring games. He’s done a really nice job of adapting.”

On whether Bentley will have a short leash

“We’re going to make decisions to win the game.”

On the offensive line’s performance

“I think they’ve played extremely well. Coach Wolford wasn’t as pleased after Saturday, he felt there were some things we had repped in practice that we missed in the run game. I think we did a really nice job protecting. ... We’ve been very consistent up until Saturday in the run game.”

On the first-down playcalls against Missouri

“We wanted to be hard-headed in the run game. We felt like that’s something we needed to be able to establish the line of scrimmage to give us some opportunities down the field. The game changed in the third quarter, obviously, with the weather. That was an issue. I think you saw as we continued to work through the game, he [Scarnecchia] had some opportunities he took advantage of. We need to be able to run the football. I think we ran for 130 yards or something like that against that defense. They’ve been porous in the passing game but they’ve been very good in the run game. We need to be able to do that to create some opportunities for us down the field.”

On why the running game has been a strong emphasis

“We can’t get in a situation where we become a drop-back game. They’re [Texas A&M] very active up front, you’ve got to keep them off balance. I’d say the same thing about Missouri — their inside techniques are really good, and that’s why we did not want to get into a one-dimensional game with them. That’s why we needed to stay in the run game. Wasn’t pleasing to the eye at times, but you have to do those things in order to create some balance in what you do and not let them tee off every single snap. And that’s what happens in this league with some of the defensive lines we face.”

On the special teams’ performance

“The punting situation Saturday was awful. Normally when you have a punt blocked, you lose a game. That’s what should happen, that’s what normally happens. We had two. ... I think Joe’s [Charlton] been a little inconsistent. He’s hit some really nice balls, but he’s hit about one a game where we’re not flipping the field like he’s capable. Obviously been very pleased with Parker [White] and Alex [Woznick] with his kickoffs. I think our kickoff coverage has been solid. It’s been difficult with our kickoff return, the numbers aren’t great. But our starting field position is outstanding because of the different alternative kicks we’re getting because of Deebo [Samuel]. Our starting field position is outstanding, our kickoff return stats aren’t very good. But when they’re sky kicking it and you’re getting to the 35-yard line, the 38-yard line, we’ll take that. I think on punt block, we’ve had some opportunities. I think we’ve called one block in each game and we’ve been close twice. We need to do a better job in the details of executing in those situations. We should’ve had a big return on Saturday if we made one block on a sideline return for Bryan [Edwards]. We need to get Bryan loose, he’s a very effective returner. We need to continue to give Bryan an opportunity.”