Will Muschamp addressed a number of topics at his weekly press conference, Tuesday, including the rash of injuries the Gamecocks have sustained and how it will effect the depth chart heading into the Senior Night game against Appalachian State. South Carolina’s defense has been relatively stable, but the offense has taken blow after blow at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, right tackle and tight end. The silver lining among the broken bones, torn ligaments and MRI results are the key players expected to return Saturday.
According to Muschamp, slot receiver Shi Smith, running back Rico Dowdle and right tackle Dylan Wonnum should all be available this weekend. Tight end Nick Muse is out for the season with a torn ACL, wide receiver Josh Vann has a broken hand and running back Tavien Feaster is questionable a groin injury, but on balance, the Gamecocks offense should have as many top players available as it has had since Dowdle was following Wonnum off right tackle in mid-September.
But even at full strength, Appalachian State would present a formidable challenge. The Mountaineers were undefeated and nationally ranked before falling to rival Georgia Southern on Halloween. Appalachian State employs a variety of motions and shifts to create defensive lapses. Muschamp broke down the challenges the Mountaineers present, “Every defense has a key. When motion occurs, sometimes that key could change based on who is motioning. That’s where they try to get you confused … and they mix that with tempo. You can’t not get aligned, get your cleats in the dirt and your eyes in the right spot, because they will snap the ball and move fast. But they will mix motion with a motion or a motion and a reset or a motion and then a snap. So, you’ve got to be alert.”
The Gamecocks will host Appalachian State for Senior Night at Williams-Brice 7 p.m., Saturday. South Carolina is a 4.5-point favorite.
Additional notes from Will Muschamp press conference
- Five seniors, including Jake Bentley, will have eligibility remaining but have been given the option to walk for Senior Night. The conversations about returning to the team for next season will be had at a later date.
- On scheduling Power 5, FBS and FCS teams: I’m in favor of the model we have. Play who you want to play. (Muschamp doesn’t seem to support the idea of dropping all FCS opponents from future schedules).
- On tight end position now that Nick Muse is out for the season: Offense will continue to work in two-TE sets. Freshmen Traevon Kenion and KeShawn Toney are working alongside Kyle Markway.
- Additional injuries: Defensive end Keir Thomas should be available Saturday. CB/RB A.J. Turner remains questionable. OT Jaylen Nichols is out.
- On NFL prospects for draft-eligible juniors: We care what the NFL thinks. Not what we think or their parents think or the player thinks. Our concern is what those 32 teams think. Sometimes it’s time for a kid to go. We feel like it’s our job to provide information.
Will Muschamp press conference