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Tuesday Tidbits: Muschamp reviews Florida, looks ahead to Chattanooga

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Plus tackling woes, the possibility of playing freshmen, and more.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp met with the media for his weekly press conference on Tuesday, looking back at the difficult defeat to Florida and getting into the Gamecocks’ preparation for Chattanooga. The highlights:

On the injury situation

Jaylin Dickerson has a hamstring. He’ll be out this week. Aaron Sterling probably will not be back this week with the knee. We’re still kind of working through that and seeing what we need to do as we move forward.”

On whether it’s Jake Bentley’s call on the RPOs

“It’s his decision. I think there are certain sequences that we will go into a game that we may give him some guidelines situationally, whether we want to hand the ball off or throw the ball. But the other day, it was all based on the look, and we felt good about the decisions that were made. Obviously we didn’t get the results we wanted, and that’s unfortunate. We’ll go back and continue to look at the situation and what we need to do better to put our guys in a better situation to be successful.”

On the fumble recovery against Florida that wasn’t

“Once forward progress is stopped, it is now not a reviewable play. And I knew that, on the field, number one. Number two, the whistle had blown. Number three, no official had reacted to the ball being recovered or stripped by Jaycee Horn and returned down the sideline. ... I had a communication with the official on the sideline. I said, ‘Did forward progress stop?’ He said, ‘The whistle was blown, coach.’ I said, ‘Are they looking at it upstairs?’ He said, ‘You know the rule.’ And I do know the rule. Forward progress is stopped, it is no longer a reviewable play.”

On the tackling woes

“We’re a little banged up at the safety position. We haven’t been as productive at the linebacker position as we’d like to be, quite frankly. I think those two positions have really hurt us as far as explosive plays. You go back to last year, Chris Lammons and D.J. Smith, they were both very good tacklers and when the ball did hit the second level, in a lot of those situations, the ball was on the ground — from the standpoint of a 6-8 yard gain as opposed to a 20-yard gain and an explosive run. I think things kind of snowballed on us. We got worn down in the fourth quarter in our last ballgame and struggled to answer. I think there’s a combination of things that have affected the tackling, and obviously we continue to work on it.”

More on tackling

“Targeting is an issue. We talk to our players all the time about lowering their targets and not leading with the crown of the helmet. ... We do sometimes make mistakes as far as trying to create a turnover instead securing the tackle. That’s a judgment, and a hard judgment when a 220-pounder is running at you and you’ve got to be able to get the guy on the ground, bottom line — and that’s the most important thing. I do think those factors have a small portion of it. ... You gotta really want to throw your face in the fan and enjoy it. We’ve got to continue to recruit to that.”

On how the players are handling the tough Florida loss

“There’s always teachable moments. They’re certainly easier to teach, unfortunately, after a very difficult loss. We’ve been really good in one-score games. Our guys understand that. They understand that those games are probably going to come down to three, four, five plays in the fourth quarter that determine the game. We’ve been on the winning side of that a bunch. ... We’ve got to come out on top in those situations, and our guys understand that. We’ve been really good in one-score games for that reason.”

On whether having players who have been through losing seasons helps push the team toward success

“I don’t know that losing does a lot for you at the end of the day. Championship expectation, that’s what we have in this program. You’ve got a coaching staff that’s been a part of 10 national championships and close to 30 conference championships. We know what it takes to win and be successful. Our expectation is higher than anyone else around here, I can assure you of that.”

On the possibility of playing freshmen on Saturday

“If the situation presents itself — number one, can they help us win the game, number two, if there’s an opportunity — whether it’s Dakereon [Joyner] or anyone else that’s a young player — certainly we’d like to have them have the opportunity to play, absolutely.”

On Josh Belk’s status

“Josh is extremely bright. He’s done a nice job. He practiced today and I thought practiced well. We plan on playing him Saturday.”

Notable

Nick Harvey will not walk for Senior Day and is applying for another season. ... Eldridge Thompson will walk, but is also applying for another year. ... Donnell Stanley is planning to walk, but will make a final decision after the season.