South Carolina’s players didn’t want to look too far down the road Saturday night, but they acknowledged it’s nice to have some hope for future when they do think about it.
“We are still going to worry about this year before we worry about the future, but the future is bright for us,” sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel said after the Gamecocks beat then-No. 18 Tennessee 24-21 on Saturday night in Williams-Brice Stadium.
It was South Carolina’s most significant win since beating then-No. 6 Georgia on Sept. 2013, 2014, and it could turn out to be much more significant than that one if the Gamecocks (4-4 overall, 2-4 SEC) can build on the momentum of what is now its first two-game winning streak of the season.
“We feel like this win turns the program around,” senior defensive end Darius English said. “It was a big win. It could lead us to a bowl game, change the program, change the culture.”
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If that seems a bold statement, it’s worth remembering how bleak things looked two weeks ago, when the Gamecocks were in the midst of a four-game SEC losing streak and turning to a third quarterback on the season.
“The future is bright,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We have some very talented young guys. They are playing out of need and necessity, but they are also playing because they are good players. It’s an exciting time.”
Among other things, the win stopped a three-game losing streak against the Vols. South Carolina never trailed Tennessee, outgained the Volunteers 325-297 and won the turnover battle 3-0.
“The last two times we played Tennessee we let them get it at the end of the game,” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “It meant a lot to finish out this game and it means a lot for our program and the future of our program. We definitely proved we can finish games, and we have to keep working and show everybody who we are.
“This is the start of something.”
The Gamecocks take on Missouri on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We have been working our butts off all season, all offseason,” sophomore tight end K.C. Crosby said. “This is a spark to start a winning streak so that we can finish the season strong.”
EXTRA POINTS. Offensive guard Donnell Stanley (ankle) remains questionable for the Missouri game. Stanley dressed Saturday but did not play against Tennessee. He has been out since the opening game. Freshman linebacker T.J. Brunson suffered an ankle sprain against Tennessee and is questionable for the Missouri game. … Muschamp gave the players Sunday off. The Gamecocks normally hold a Sunday evening practice. “We were just getting to that point of the season where we’re really banged up and we needed a break,” he said. … Cornerback Chris Lammons, who was ejected from Saturday’s game for throwing two punches, will not be disciplined further by the team. “Nobody feels worse about it than Chris. He has apologized,” Muschamp said. “He lost his composure. It’s happened to me a few times.” … South Carolina’s players of the game were running back Rico Dowdle (offense), quarterback Jake Bentley (offense), tight end Hayden Hurst (offense), defensive end Dante Sawyer (defense) and cornerback Jamarcus King (defense)
Who: Missouri at USC
When: 4 p.m., Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Line: USC by 5