Football coaches, and by extension their teams, thrive on routine. Each week they know what they’re doing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, to the point where weeks shift around when they play a non-Saturday game.
And that’s what makes bowls a different beast.
After practicing certain days all though the season, the members of the South Carolina football team have not hit the field since the Clemson game. They only had workouts in championship game week and now have finals followed by some off time, meaning they won’t practice again until Dec. 15, the middle of next week.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp thinks that’s just fine, and actually healthy in a way.
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“Our guys need to be focused on exams right now,” Muschamp said. “Finish strong academically, give them a couple days to get home and recoup a little bit from that.”
That little break will lead into practices focused on fundamentals and developing young players, then a stretch of sessions focused on Birmingham Bowl opponent South Florida, which just lost coach Willie Taggart to Oregon. The team will break for Christmas (a luxury not afforded to their last bowl team), and come back together Dec. 26 in Birmingham with enough time for three practice days before the game.
Coming through those, making it work without that weekly routine, is something teams as young as the Gamecocks have to learn to do.
“At the end of the day, the fun’s in winning,” Muschamp said. “And that’s what you need to be able to focus in on and be able to have a mature team handle a little time off and coming back. There’s a time to have fun, as far as bowl games are concerned, there’s a time to focus as far as those things are concerned.”