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Tuesday Tidbits: Muschamp previews Kentucky, gives injury updates

The Gamecocks are buckling down for a big game.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks hit the road again to Lexington, Ky., this weekend, where they’ll be up against a surging Wildcats team that has won four straight against the Gamecocks. Coach Will Muschamp expressed a lot of admiration for the job Mark Stoops has done, talked about the team’s preparation, and gave some key injury updates. The highlights:

On Kentucky in general

“You turn the tape on, they’ve got an outstanding football team. There’s a reason why they are where they are. They’re a very athletic football team, they’ve got a lot of length at multiple positions. They’ve got very good team speed, they’re physical on both lines of scrimmage. Defensively, they’re second in our league in total defense, they’re third in scoring. Very active, they play the way you’re supposed to play. They’ve got eight senior starters, a lot of experience. They’re very active at the linebacker positions, especially Jordan Jones — very instinctive player. I think Josh Allen’s an elite rusher, one of the better rushers in our league and certainly the country. They get their hands on a lot of balls in the secondary. Offensively, they lead our league with 270 yards rushing. Obviously, Benny Snell is an outstanding back. ... Big, physical offensive line. ... Terry Wilson’s been a very good addition for them. ... We’ve got to do a good job with pass rush lanes and being disciplined on all the zone reads and different looks that they give you. .. They’ve recruited good team speed, and that’s what shows up on tape.”

An injury update

K.C. Crosby had surgery on his finger, should be fine for game day. ... OrTre Smith is going to have surgery next week — genetic issue on his knee. It’s very, very painful. It’s something he’s been dealing with for a long time. We’ve exhausted about every measure medically to alleviate the pain. ... The surgery will end his season. He should be back for spring ball.”

On Deebo’s approach after being injured against Kentucky last year

“We’ve got a very business-like approach. Deebo and Bryson Allen-Williams were both hurt in this ballgame last year. We were dealt a serious blow last year, losing both of those guys. I’ve been very pleased with how they’ve approached today [the first day back at practice].”

On bringing down Kentucky star Benny Snell

“You’ve got to swarm to the ball. When you play really, really good backs, they’re going to make you miss, they’re going to break some tackles. You’ve got to swarm the football. You’ve got to leverage the ball the right way — the ball carrier’s never down until the whistle blows. You’ve got to finish on the ball carrier. ... Our players respect him as a football player and a running back.”

On the general approach to Saturday

“It’s about winning your one-on-ones. At the end of the day, football’s a game where you’re matched up against another person. We talk in terms of winning downs, which wins possessions, and you win enough possessions, you win games. Our approach never changes.”

On how he discusses the losing streak with the team

“We haven’t talked about it. It’s a 2018 South Carolina football team versus a 2018 Kentucky team. ... Every week is a season. We’re going to worry about the things that really matter and can affect us in the ball game, and that’s our preparation.”

On what separates this Kentucky team from previous Wildcats squads

“They play very good, complimentary football. They’re very efficient and make it very difficult for you to get off the field. They don’t give you a lot of negative plays on offense, so they’re not in a lot of bad down and distance situations. Their special teams are always going to be a positive for them as far as the battle for field position is concerned. I think it’s a very complete team.”

On the offensive line’s performance so far

“I’ve said it through training camp, I’ve been very pleased with the progress our offensive line has made. We’ve got to continue to bring the young players along — that’s going to be an important part moving forward, because there’s a lot of football to be played. But the progress that we’ve made, I’ve been extremely pleased.”

On Javon Kinlaw’s evolution

“You either get better or worse, every single day, whether you’re a coach or a player. He’s been a guy that’s come to work everyday with the right kind of mindset and mentality to improve and get better. He certainly had a very productive day Saturday. The challenge now moving forward is, ‘So what? Now what? What are you going to do now?’ That’s what he needs to respond with, and I believe he will.”

On what he saw to improve on after Vanderbilt

“There are some things we missed in the secondary that were not taken advantage of because our rush was really good — quite frankly, if Shurmur had had more time, probably would have exposed us. So yeah, there were some things we need to clean up as far as leveraging the right way, covering down the correct way in a bunch situation or a two-man stack, motion adjustment. Wasn’t anything glaring, but certainly felt like if [Shurmur] had had more time, he probably would’ve seen it.”


Jamel Cook will sit out this season, as the NCAA ruled him ineligible to join the Gamecocks right away. ... Wide receiver Chad Terrell has not been cleared for contact, but he’s started practicing. Muschamp estimated he’s about 2-3 weeks away. ... Still no update on a possible 12th game. ... Rashad Fenton is full go after banging up his quad against Vandy.