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Tuesday Tidbits: Muschamp wraps up Palmetto Bowl, previews makeup game against Akron

It’s a bit of an unusual week for the Gamecocks.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It seems crazy to say it, but college football’s regular season is over — except not really, as far as the South Carolina Gamecocks are concerned. After their more-interesting-than-expected loss to Clemson, USC turns its attention to a makeup game against Akron, which was scheduled after the Marshall game was washed out during Hurricane Florence in September. Coach Will Muschamp had some interesting things to say about the team’s preparation and the season so far. The highlights:

On the injury front

Jaycee Horn was in a boot today, but we still may get him for Saturday. We’ll see how that goes. ... A.J. Turner’s gonna rep at nickel for us this week. A.J.’s a guy that, on special teams, you really see him being able to make plays and feel blocks, and he’s a good tackler and a good space player. He’s a good athlete, so we’re going to give him some opportunity to play on the defensive side of the ball this week.”

On how the Gamecocks move on after an emotional game

“I think that’s it really the approach of your program. It’s not something you just come that week and say, ‘This is what we do.’ It’s why we talk about every week is a season. We mean it. We move forward. We spend the same amount of time, as far as coaches in the office, whether we’re playing Akron or whoever we’re playing. It’s part of our preparation. Our players understand that. Our players understand that it’s not about the logo and who we’re playing. It’s about us. It’s about our preparation, how we prepare through the week and get ready for a ballgame. Every game is a mindset game.”

On Turner’s “switch” to defense

“A.J.’s been kidding with me for three years about playing defense. We have some depth at the running back position right now, we have some guys we have confidence in. It’s nothing he has not done at running back, there’s just an opportunity for him to move over and certainly help us this week. We’ll see how it goes moving forward. He has a great attitude and came in and met with T-Rob for a lot of Monday to go through and just make sure he was learning some different concepts that we teach and being able to get him aligned and play. A.J.’s extremely bright, he’ll learn it.”

On Jake Bentley not earning an SEC Player of the Week honor

“I’m going to try to be politically correct, I’m not very good at that. We’re not big into individual awards here. That’s not who we are, it’s about the team. Jake would be the first one to tell you that. Jake played well because of how he prepares — how he watches film, how he practices. ... But I do think it’s important when a young man does some special things to get recognized for it. He’s the first quarterback in Southeastern Conference history to throw for that many yards against a top-5 team, and five touchdowns. In the history of the league; never been done before. That’s pretty impressive, in my opinion. I’ve been in this league a long time, so I have learned we have a saying ‘It just means more.’ It just means more sometimes depending on what your logo is. Call it like it is.”

On practicing during championship week

“Next year, we’ve got two open dates. We practiced that this year because of the hurricane. ... We’ve been through that process now and we understand that. ... Our goal is to go to Atlanta, and you go to Atlanta, you’ll be practicing this time next year. We need to get used to practicing this week.”

On any positives from the Clemson game

“We lost the game, that’s the bottom line. We went there to win the football game. I don’t really pull a lot out of a loss other than going back schematically, looking at things you did well and some things you probably could’ve done differently. For some very young players that we had on the field, you can gain some confidence from it, and we move forward.”

On preparing for Akron after the late addition

“When we found out that we were going to get the game, we got all their film from this year. It’s the same operation that we normally have. Obviously we didn’t do any summer work on Akron, because that’s normally when we do the foundation of our game plans. But we’ve got all the film we normally have for a game.”

On offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon coming down out of the box

“I think Bryan’s demeanor on the sideline is really good for our players. I always, as a playcaller defensively, was always on the field. Certainly you can see the game better from the box, but sometimes when you face adversity, sometimes you get a much better feel as a playcaller when you’re on the field. ... You’re not asking, ‘How are things down there?’ I think we’ve played much better at the receiver position since he’s been on the field. ... I also believe there’s a comfort level with our entire offense that’s gotten more confidence week to week to week, and that’s why we’ve been very efficient.”

On first-year quarterbacks coach Dan Werner

“Dan’s got a very even-keeled demeanor and a lot of experience. I think he and Bryan have jelled extremely well. Their personalities are opposites — Bryan’s a fiery guy — but I think they compliment each other well. ... Dan’s experience and his demeanor with the quarterbacks is something I think has really helped us.”


No NFL discussions have happened yet between players and the staff. ... Muschamp pointed out that offensive and defensive linemen are recruiting priorities. ... Muschamp does not anticipate any staff changes as the coaching carousel cranks up.