South Carolina offensive tackle Mason Zandi didn’t wait for a question after the game to say what he wanted to say. The senior was a Gamecock long before he got his offer, but he still rose from a project to a two-year starter.
Those two years have been challenging, between a 3-9 record in 2016 and the tough start this year, and Zandi wanted to make something known as his journey winds down.
“I just wanted to tell all of Gamecock Nation how much we appreciate them,” Zandi said. “It’s been a long road coming and we’re not done yet, but really appreciate the support that we’ve had through the season and sticking with us through tough times.”
Not always easy
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Even with Saturday’s win being a moment of relief for some Gamecocks, the year hasn’t been everything to everyone.
The seniors have been through a lot. Many of their careers started in the 11-win era. They saw the slip from top-10 to seven wins and were juniors on the 2015 team that hit the bottom.
This year hasn’t been all easy, with a 2-4 start, and it hasn’t been easy for some of those who took part in senior day festivities. Coach Will Muschamp said his staff isn’t shy about confronting situations with players. As with any team, that means individual hopes aren’t always reached.
But that hasn’t held them back.
“The script has not gone exactly like some of them wanted to as far as personally,” Muschamp said. “There was no complaining. There was no pushback from them to us as a staff. ... We ruffled some feathers I’m sure, but those guys, their attitudes have been phenomenal.”
Where the Gamecocks land for the bowl likely won’t get settled until Dec. 4 at the earliest. The SEC’s bowl picture became even more muddled with Ole Miss losing to Vanderbilt, meaning the Rebels could get knocked out with a loss to Mississippi State next week. The Commodores should be in by APR score, even if they don’t upset Tennessee in their finale.
Several players said they don’t care where they land, and they’re trying to not get deep into the speculation.
“I’ve heard a few things,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “But I try not to keep up with too much stuff out there.”