The difference had to be something more concrete.
South Carolina’s football team came out of last week’s win against UMass disappointed with its defense after players admitted they let up a little. But to go from that to holding a talented Tennessee attack under 300 yards, there had to be a list of specific areas within the defense where things were shored up?
“To me, it all goes back to mental intensity and focus,” Will Muschamp said. “(UMass) didn’t overpower us physically by any stretch of the imagination. It was all just having your eyes in the right spot, playing the block, keeping your head in your gap, tackling well.”
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The Gamecocks managed to do that despite losing veteran corner Chris Lammons early against Tennessee to an ejection and then losing reliable safety D.J. Smith to a targeting call in the second half.
Muschamp noted that mental intensity waxes and wanes, and that puts his team in a tight spot. They’re still short on top-end talent at many spots, shrinking the margin for error.
That said, he believes the jump is something his team has a lot of control over.
“It has nothing to do with ability,” Muschamp said. “It has to do with mental intensity. And we didn’t have that last week and we’re not good enough if we don’t have it. We’ve got to have it all the time.”