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Will Muschamp on winning SEC East, quarterback Jake Bentley, line depth

Josh Allen celebrates with UK fans after the South Carolina win last year. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp got his turn at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Wednesday and made it clear that his team wanted to win the SEC East.

Kentucky has beat South Carolina five straight years — but likely will be picked to finish behind the Gamecocks again when the preseason media poll comes out today.

Here are some comments from Muschamp I thought you might enjoy:

“As far as where our program is, it’s not where we want to be. I can assure you of that. Our goal every year is win the East which gives you an opportunity to play in Atlanta; and if you win in Atlanta, it gives you an opportunity to play in the College Football Playoff, in my opinion, and to win our state. And we haven’t done either one in three years.

And so that’s something we’ve got to be able to accomplish. And that’s goal is not going to change, regardless of the situation or the circumstances at our school. We’re striving to win a championship at South Carolina. So we haven’t done that yet.”

Q. Just going back to your quarterback, Jake Bentley. He’s an Alabama native. What are you looking forward to seeing from him this season and having that senior year to — he can prepare the guys around him to have a big-time matchup at home against Alabama, continuing that on Jake Bentley?
WILL MUSCHAMP: “I’m excited about Jake going into his senior year. He’s played good quality football for us. He’s the second leading returning passer in the Southeastern Conference. Played extremely well at times last season for us. We need to finish more balls down the field for him, and he needs to do a good job taking care of the football in situations.

“But I think we’ve recruited well through receiver position. Bryan Edwards is a really good football player. Shi Smith has played extremely well for us. We’re going to get Ortre Smith back off where he missed all of last season with a knee injury. Josh Vann is a guy that’s come on. Randrecous Davis is healthy for the first time in two years. Chad Terrell, Chavis Dawkins, a senior, has been a very dependable guy.

“We’ve improved up front offensively. I think we have some good weapons around Jake to help him be the best quarterback he can be.”

Q. Coach, last year I believe at Media Days you talked about that you liked your starters up front on offense and defense but you didn’t really like the depth you had. Where do you think that depth is at now, and how important is it to be able to win in this league?
WILL MUSCHAMP: “Other than having a quarterback, to me it’s the most important thing, you know. You got to have a quarterback first, and you got to have depth on both lines of scrimmage, and quality depth. Not just depth. Not just numbers. You have to have guys that can play and be productive.

“We’ve improved ourselves defensively. I talked about the five seniors, but you talk about Aaron Sterling has been a productive guy for us, Ricky Sandidge, J.J. Enagbare, Jabari Ellis, Devontae Davis, Tyreek Johnson. Brad Johnson is an outside guy.

“So we’ve really come a long way. Zacch Pickens and Joe Anderson are two young players that I thought did a really nice job in spring. On the offensive line, I mentioned those guys earlier.

So we’re much improved on both lines of scrimmage with better girth, better size and against some of the offensive lines, from a defensive perspective, that we’ve got to block, and I think we’re more athletic on the offensive line than we’ve been as far as blocking some of the athletic defensive lines that we face.”

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