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Muschamp talks receivers, special teams, and more ahead of Florida

The Gamecocks have some things to work on.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Will Muschamp met with the media to preview this week’s matchup against No. 3 Florida, covering the need for emerging receivers, explosive plays, special teams miscues, and more. The highlights:

On getting more receivers involved than just Shi Smith

“Yeah, we need some more guys to step up. You gotta win the man coverage in this league. We had some guys targeted and other opportunities. You can’t create separation, it’s hard to throw it to you. We’re not just gonna throw the ball to a guy that can’t get open. At the end of the day, we gotta look at some other guys — Luke Doty’s gonna have some opportunities, and if they can’t win in man coverage, it’s hard to throw it to you. We’re gonna see man coverage Saturday, we’re gonna see it for the rest of the year in our league. That’s just part of it, especially in those deny-the-ball downs — 3rd and 6 or less — that’s what you’re going to see. ... I felt like we did some decent things in training camp and was disappointed outside of Xavier (Leggette) and Shi at that position, so we gotta get better.”

On the decision to kick a field goal late

“You look back to the other night, you got over 3 minutes left, you got 4th and 12. If it’s 4th and 7, we’re going for it. If we don’t have three timeouts, we’re probably going for it on 4th and 12. But you got three timeouts, and I got great confidence that when we get the ball back, we’re getting the ball back to go win the game — we’re not trying to tie the game, we’re gonna go win the game because you kick a field goal, because you know he’s (Parker White) gonna make it, I have a high confidence level he’s gonna make it, we kick it off, we call three timeouts, and we get the ball back with a minute and a half to go, which is an eternity in college football because the clock stops on first downs. We had plenty of time to go win the game, and Parker allows you to do some things and make a decision like that. If you’re not so sure about that position, you don’t feel good about that, you’re probably going for it. The next time you get the ball back — which we did — I felt like I knew how they would play that situation. They weren’t gonna throw the ball, they were gonna make us use all three timeouts and punt the ball to us, and we were gonna have a minute and a half to go. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that opportunity.”

On Collin Hill’s performance

“I think he’s got a very calm, cool demeanor. I saw that in training camp, he’s got an air of confidence about him as a player that I think kind of permeates throughout our offense and our football team. I don’t know that we ever had any panic at all at 21-7 that we were gonna get back in the ball game and get some things going. I know Mike (Bobo) was very confident at halftime. ... Collin is certainly an extension of Mike as far as those things are concerned.”

On what the defense needs to do better against Florida

“We need to stay away from explosive plays, against this team especially. You look at when they played in Oxford on Saturday, it was a lot of explosives and off-rhythm plays where he buys time in the pocket. When he (Kyle Trask) scrambles, he’s scrambling to throw, and he’s got really good guys down the field. He’s really accurate with the football, they finish on balls down the field, and when they get some guys in open space, he does a nice job at distributing the football, whether it’s to a back, a tight end, a receiver, whatever the case may be. We gotta stay away from explosive plays.”

On the special teams performance

“I talked to Kai today and on Sunday as well. I said, ‘Listen man, you’re better than this. You’re a more talented guy.’ First time out, I get it, but at the end of the day, we’ve gotta punt the ball better. I thought our coverage units were solid. The one kickoff that came out, we talked in terms of the ball position with Mitch, was not where it needs to be — the way we cover, and the way we squeeze the field, if you leave it out in the middle of the field, it’s gonna create some stress for us as far as the coverage units are concerned. In that situation, and I think overall, just punting the ball better. We had good protection, and I think our coverage units were fine, we just overall gotta punt it better. ... Our punt block units did a nice job. Jammie made one poor decision — put your heels on the 10, back up one or two steps and that’s it, he drifted and he catches the ball on the 4. Now, the guy hung the ball up there, they probably would have caught the ball there anyway. But at the end of the day, he’ll learn from that. He did a nice job, other than the end of the game, of fielding the ball and communicating. Kickoff return, we had no opportunities. ... Overall, the end of the game kills your opportunity to win the game, but it wasn’t all bad as far as the special teams were concerned.”

INJURY NOTES, ETC.: Israel Mukuamu and Jahmar Brown are day-to-day. ... Sherrod Greene has a fracture in his hip and will be out 4-6 weeks, thankfully with no surgery required. Damani Staley will take over at middle linebacker in his absence. ... Alex Huntley remains out. ... No timeline from the NCAA on Jaylen Brooks’ appeal to play.