Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp held his weekly press conference, Tuesday, ahead of this week’s game at Tennessee. The Volunteers are coming off a 35-13 loss to Alabama as part of the Third Saturday in October rivalry, a game that was competitive until a goal-line fumble swung the momentum in the Tide’s favor. Despite the loss, the signs of an improving Tennessee team have been evident since moving quarterback Brian Maurer into the starting role. But a concussion suffered against the Crimson Tide has left Maurer’s status for this week’s game uncertain. It’s also uncertain if head coach Jeremy Pruitt would turn back to opening-game starter Jarrett Guarantano or insert freshman J.T. Shrout into the lineup.
What is certain is Will Muschamp has enjoyed a mastery over Tennessee as a head coach, including a 3-0 mark at South Carolina. But the record may not tell the whole story as the last three games have been decided by three, six and three points, respectively. You have to go back to 2011 to find a game decided by double digits, a 14-3 Gamecocks win over Derek Dooley in Knoxville. Due in part to the timing of the game, often near Halloween when postseason fates hang in the balance, the history of the series has led to memorable moments such as linebacker Hank Campbell’s stop on a two-point conversion to preserve a victory (1992), Sidney Rice’s clutch touchdown catch leading to South Carolina’s first win at Knoxville (2005) and the 38-35 victory in Marcus Lattimore’s final game in Garnet and Black (2012).
These two SEC East foes roll into the game again fighting for bowl eligibility. It can be argued both teams are better than their record indicates as South Carolina and Tennessee have each played top-ten teams Alabama, Florida and Georgia. A win could serve as a potential springboard to a bowl berth and renewed confidence while a loss would make either team a long shot to play past November.
The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. kick at Knoxville, Saturday. South Carolina is a 4-point favorite.
Key comments from Will Muschamp’s press conference
- Injuries: Running back Rico Dowdle, who left the Florida game visibly hobbled and underwent an MRI this weekend, has a sprained knee. No surgery is required but the senior is probably out this week. Running back/defensive back AJ Turner has a hamstring injury and the team will not know his availability until Wednesday or later.
- On SEC league office responding to officiating: Hasn’t heard from SEC office since Sunday. Graded Gamecocks film and watched some of Tennessee-Alabama Saturday night. Once team started it’s meetings, moved on to this week’s game. AD Ray Tanner is very upset and is representing the University well and working through that on team’s behalf.
- On Tennessee: You can see the improvement of this Volunteers team from beginning of the season. Offensive line did a great job against Alabama and they are very talented at wide receiver and tight end positions.
- On passing game: It’s not all on Ryan (Hilinski), but he’d tell you he has to be more accurate. We need more turns and reps. If defense crowds the box, we have to hit some deep shots. We have the capabilities and can change the complexion of games with those.
- On DJ Wonnum’s nomination for Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award: DJ is as first-class a person as you would hope to meet. Family is great and there aren’t enough adjectives to describe how good a person he is. Great football player and better person
Will Muschamp press conference