USC Gamecocks Football

What Will Muschamp said about Tua Tagovailoa, Nick Saban and Alabama

What Coach Muschamp said about Hilinski, 72-10 win over Charleston Southern

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, after the Gamecocks' win over Charleston Southern.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, after the Gamecocks' win over Charleston Southern.

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp has some experience with the Alabama football program.

The longtime veteran of the SEC got his big break coaching for Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, and he coached across the state at Auburn several times.

On Sunday, Muschamp looked ahead to USC’s showdown with Alabama on Saturday in Williams-Brice and spoke about a few different topics.

One the challenge of slowing the Tide’s passing game:

Their quarterback is extremely accurate with the football, especially on the vertical balls down the field. The talent level between (Jaylen) Waddle and Jerry Jeudy, both guys in the slot and outside stretch the field vertically. (Henry) Ruggs and (Devonta) Smith are extremely talented guys that can stretch the field. They all have good ball skills. When you mix it with a very good quarterback, they do a really nice job in play action, they really stretch you vertically and horizontally from the standpoint of the play-action and stretching the field and the over routes. Some things they get to, as well as the RPOs and the intermediate passing game.

They get the ball in playmaker’s hands. They get a block and a missed tackle and normally it’s resulting into a big play. They present a lot of issues.”

On QB Tua Tagovailoa:

“I think the thing that jumps out at you are the off-rhythm plays. The plays that he makes out of the pocket, the ad-lib plays where you’re seeing a lot of explosive plays. You’ve got a lot good guys around him, but he’s very accurate with the football. He’s completing this year I believe in the 80 percent with his completions and they’re not all bubbles and quick game. It’s vertical balls down the field. So those are the things that jump out at me. He’s keeping plays alive and creating explosives and getting the balls in the space to playmakers. And I think Steve (Sarkisian) has done a job, just watching the first two games of doing those things as well. ”

On the offensive line:

“Well both tackles have played extremely well. (Jedrick) Wills, (Alex) Leatherwood and they’ve got some new guys starting inside and playing center in the past ball game and I think they’re just kind of still searching for that right combination. I believe they’ve had a couple injuries.

On learning from Nick Saban:

“From a learning standpoint, you know, I think the big thing is obviously you have to be philosophically on the same page as what Coach Saban wants. That was something that was easy for me because I believe in the same things. ... More than anything it’s understanding how everything is tied together from the front to the back, from the linebacker play, from the run fit standpoint, from a coverage standpoint. You have to have a good understanding of coverage. You have to have a good understanding as far as the back-end play is concerned. Then it’s understanding the way Nick sees the game, administers defensively and being able to interject yourself a little bit in the moment as far as what you want to do. I think, the more you’re with Nick, the more he allows you to do as far as those things are concerned, as far as being able to call the game and see it you see it and add your own personal way you might see a game and feel how it’s played. Nick’s great on game day as far as the communication of what he sees. And that’s always great to have as far as, ‘Hey, these are the things I’m seeing. You’ve been in too much middle field, you’ve been in too much split safety, what about pressure here?’ but always gives good ideas on game day of different ways to look at it of a guy that’s very experienced in calling a game. It was an awesome experience for me and I learned a lot of football under Nick.”

On being a Saban assistant:

“At the end of the day, Nick’s demanding. And that’s what makes him very successful. He does a really good job of hiring coaches. He does a really good job of teaching coaches how he wants his system, his program administered. I think that’s a huge strength of his, and anticipating issues before they arise. I think that Nick was demanding but he never asked me to do something he wasn’t doing himself from a work standpoint. That’s what always impressed me from that standpoint. He wants to play at a high level. There’s nothing wrong with that.”