So, what’s next?
South Carolina has lost three straight SEC games and Georgia comes to town Saturday as a touchdown favorite. The reality of rebuilding is staring the Gamecocks right in the face after a close-but-not-close-enough loss to Texas A&M last week.
“My job is to win games,” first-year South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. “That’s what I look at. Nobody wants to hear why you can’t do something. They want to know why you did it. That’s your job as a coach.
“We need to get some results. That’s what you’re in the profession for.”
Everything had to go exactly right for the Gamecocks to avoid the kind of season they are having at the moment. Everything has not. A team that couldn’t afford any injuries has lost its best linebacker for the season, its best wide receiver for three games and counting, its leading receiver for the last game and two starting-level offensive linemen for a third of the season. A team that needed a freshman quarterback to be a saviour has been reminded that freshmen quarterbacks never are.
This is the point in the season where the questions become repetitive: “So, what can you do about Issue X?”
And the answers more so: “Well, we have to try Solution Y,” the coach and players say, knowing full well they’ve tried everything from A to Z already to try to fix whatever the problem was in the first place.
The truth is there aren’t answers to some of the problems the Gamecocks have at the moment although we’ll keep asking and they’ll keep trying (to answer the questions and fix the issues). Or, if there is an answer, it’s not the one anyone wants to hear or the coaches are allowed to say. For most of this team’s questions, the answer is, “Recruiting,” but coaches can’t say that because it’s deflecting blame to the players and fans don’t want to hear that because it means the problem is not going to be solved next week or maybe even next year.
Muschamp’s message to his team after its most recent loss was clinical.
“Life’s not fair.”
“Sometimes you invest an awful lot and you don’t get necessarily the return that you wanted,” he said. “It’s not just about football. It’s about the business world and it’s about relationships. You don’t always get a return.”
The Gamecocks may not get a winning record out of this season. They may not even get a break-even record. What they must get, though, is a sense of progress, a feeling that the ship is pulling out of the 3-9 port it docked so depressingly in last season. So far, that seems to be happening.
Shortly after Saturday’s loss, several players took to their social media accounts to express optimism.
“Keep believing in us #Gamecocknation ..... I promise it's coming,” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams tweeted.
“Young is what we are Champions are what we will be,” wide receiver Randrecous Davis said on his Twitter account.
“We have to continue to believe in what we’re doing, believe in the process of how we are working and how we are going about our business,” Muschamp said. “I asked them to do that and there is no question that the belief in that locker room in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. They see the improvement. They see the positive steps forward.”
That’s a win at the moment.
Who: USC (2-3, 1-2 SEC) vs. Georgia (3-2, 1-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 107.5 FM
Line: Georgia by 8 1/2