David Cloninger

South Carolina facing an uphill climb this season

South Carolina quarterback Lorenzo Nunez is stopped on a keeper in the second half against Georgia at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
South Carolina quarterback Lorenzo Nunez is stopped on a keeper in the second half against Georgia at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. gmelendez@thestate.com

With a young, inexperienced team, nights like this are somewhat expected. Playing a very talented squad on the road, especially one with a Heisman Trophy candidate at tailback, was like walking into a pitch-dark cave with the sign “Beware of bears” posted beside it. Sure, you might be OK … but odds are you’re going to have teeth where you don’t want them.

South Carolina is simply not a good football team. Too much talent departed without being replaced; too much has gone wrong in three games (injuries, notably), which has put inexperience at crucial positions; and let’s face it, Georgia was too good Saturday, and was waiting for this moment – when a weak Steve Spurrier team would come between the hedges for some good old-fashioned payback.

The Bulldogs got it, sending an embarrassed and outclassed Gamecock squad back to Columbia. Finding answers through playing seems to be a faint notion at this point – the Gamecocks keep losing their best guys and are forced to turn to others. And whether it’s not being able to match up on defense or not having enough solutions on offense, the rest of the 2015 season stands to be a prolonged nail-biter.

As he probably knew it would be, Spurrier has a tough row to hoe trying to get this bunch bowl-eligible. While passionate declarations of “enemies” made for good copy in the preseason, many folks beside Mark Bradley were saying USC was facing an uphill climb. They were right.

Spurrier is battling his history, having never had a losing season since his first year at Duke and trying to avoid that with an under-talented, overwhelmed squad in 2015. He’ll go down swinging – as if he could ever do anything else – and there might be a few surprises left. It should be noted that Georgia looks legit, while Missouri and Tennessee do not, and who knows how beat up and downtrodden Florida might be at the end of the season. Crazy things happen in a season, and we’ve all seen it.

Spurrier’s first team was 0-3 in the SEC and had just been destroyed 48-7 at Auburn. The bold declaration of “Why not us?” was being answered with, “Because you’re USC.”

Lo and behold, Spurrier won his next five SEC games, including the first time ever at Tennessee and the first over Florida since 1939. The Gamecocks were that close to going to Atlanta.

Read that last paragraph again. The glorious past is easier than thinking of the queasy present.

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