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Will Muschamp meets with media for pre-camp update

On a Zoom call, the coach shared how South Carolina’s summer has been going.

Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp met virtually with the media on Wednesday afternoon, sharing some details on how the Gamecocks have been preparing for camp amid the coronavirus pandemic. The highlights:

On the team’s general approach to the coronavirus

“The mature, responsible teams are going to be the successful teams. I’ve been really proud of how our guys have handled the situation. You go back to the spring semester, we ended with a 3.614 cumulative GPA. ... As a football team, I think we’ve handled the summer well. You look right now throughout the month of July and the state of South Carolina, as far as the COVID positive tests — it’s between 14 and 16 percent in our state, and it’s less than 5 percent in our building, and two of the positives we had in July were guys that had been out of town and come back for a positive test. Really proud of how they’re handling a very difficult situation. I’m encouraging them to lead a very boring life right now. Boring is good.”

On the SEC’s scheduling decisions and not playing Clemson this year

“Our league made a decision last week to play 10 conference games only in order to start our season later, which was by medical advice. Obviously, we’re monitoring the pro leagues — the NBA, the WNBA, the National Football League and Major League Baseball — to see what they’re going through right now and what we can learn from that. ... Unfortunately, we’re all disappointed that we’re not going to be able to play Clemson. And that’s the bottom line. I expressed to Coach Tanner and to President Caslen how important that game is to both institutions, to our state, to our region, and to college football. And we are extremely disappointed in the decision, but we only have one vote of the fourteen member institutions and we voted to have a plus-one situation, and we didn’t win the vote. ... I know that President Caslen and Coach Tanner both expressed their feelings to our league that we wanted to play the game, so we’re extremely disappointed that will not happen this year.”

On injury updates

“Rosendo Louis tore a tendon in his quad, he’ll be back mid-September. It happened during spring ball, it’s a very unusual injury. Chad Terrell’s still coming off the ACL, I would say mid-September again. Jaheim Bell had a meniscus from high school, I think he’ll be cleared first of October. Eric Shaw had some bone spurs, he’ll probably be back in two weeks. And Ernest Jones had his appendix removed. ... He’s fine, it was kind of a relief that it was an appendix. I’ve never had a MIKE linebacker miss a workout for a tummy ache. He’ll be back in a couple weeks.”

On players who have chosen to opt out due to COVID-19 concerns

“Two players have decided to opt out on our football team, Mark Fox and Jordan Rhodes. I certainly respect their decision and understand that, and that’s certainly their right at this time.”

On the quarterbacks

“[Offensive coordinator] Mike’s very pleased with the quarterback position, with Ryan [Hilinski] and Collin [Hill] and Jay Urich and Luke Doty. Luke is still a quarterback, but all four guys have done some really good things and really excited about that room. I know Mike is as well. Luke also is a guy that’s gonna play some different things for us. When we finished our five days of spring — and I do this every year — I have the offensive coaches treat this like a draft ... draft your team, 1 through 11, so who are the best 11 guys on our offense? Do the same thing on defense, then we cross-side the ball, the defense does the offense, the offense does the defense. Draft your team. Luke Doty’s name kept showing up in those top 11. He’s sub-4.5, he competes his butt off, he practices hard every single day, he’s extremely bright, extremely intelligent, and he can contribute to our football team and help us win football games, bottom line. He’s a really good athlete, so he’s a guy that’s going to play multiple spots for us offensively.”

On other offensive practice standouts

“Excited about Shi [Smith] going into his senior year, he’s had a really good summer. Looking forward to seeing him to continue to progress. Xavier Legette, I think’s made some huge strides from his freshman year, the light’s starting to go off for him. Dakereon Joyner has done some really nice things. As a young guy, Rico Powers is going to play for us this year. He can finish on the top end, a guy we’ve been really pleased with.”

On whether preparing for this camp has been different

“To me, it’s still 25 practices in 40 days. Spread out a little bit more, we still have acclimation periods of two helmets, two shells, full pads. ... You gotta make sure the conditioning of your team. There may have been some guys that have missed some time because of different reasons, so you’ve gotta be smart about your football team right now and know where they are from a conditioning standpoint. ... It’s still 25 practices and that’s about what we’ve normally done anyway. It is spread out a little bit more, which again, I think that benefits the student-athlete. I think it helps the guys being able to recover better, so I think moving forward, that ought to be a model we ought to look at. The walk-throughs we’ve been able to do have been very beneficial as well. We’re further along installing a new offense than we probably would’ve been because of being able to have those days and do those days.”

More on grad transfer quarterback Collin Hill

“He’s cleared for everything. He’s a talented thrower, which we knew. Obviously understands — and Mike puts a lot on the quarterback — offensively. A very talented thrower. Sure [he has a chance to be the starter]. We’ve got a great competition going on.”

On who can step up to replace departed star Javon Kinlaw

“Well, I think you’ve got a combination of guys I’m personally excited about. Keir Thomas is a guy that only played in two ball games last year because of the ankle. Jabari Ellis has made tremendous strides — I think about Jabari Day 1 to where he is right now, at the end of the season he was a very productive football player for us. Rick Sandidge is going into his third year, needs to take a huge step forward. Zacch Pickens, I’ve been very pleased with the summer Zacch has had. That’s four quality big bodies inside.”

OTHER NOTES: Kai Kroeger has the inside track to start at punter, and as a lefty, puts a different spin on the ball which makes it more difficult to catch. ... Kick and punt return is unsettled, but Jammie Robinson, Jaycee Horn, Xavier Legette, and Shi Smith were mentioned. ... Linebacker Jahmar Brown has been primarily moved to safety, though he will continue to play at dime linebacker as well. ... The Gamecocks will practice with face coverings and remain socially distant at all meetings, as well as receive COVID testing three times a week from the SEC. Many players are taking at least some amount of online classes as well, which helps limits their exposure to the rest of the student body.