David Cloninger

Gamecocks’ season reduced to hope

South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore dives to hit Florida quarterback Treon Harris, causing an incomplete pass in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore dives to hit Florida quarterback Treon Harris, causing an incomplete pass in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. gmelendez@thestate.com

Trying to describe that game is like trying to describe the last two seasons – you’re not quite sure where to start, because anything good that happens is always trumped by something bad.

South Carolina had another game in its grasp, and in a most unusual way. The Gamecocks were plodding on offense, drooping on defense and Florida was on its way to shutting out the home team. Then suddenly, as they’ve become prone to doing, the Gamecocks caught fire, scored two touchdowns and had the Gators facing a third down with time to finally get that elusive comeback win – and blew another one.

At least this time, USC wasn’t driving for the game-winning score before it gave it away. When that’s the highlight of the afternoon, well …

The main criteria in Shawn Elliott’s candidacy for the permanent coaching job is the team is having fun. And it is. The fourth quarter preserved the Gamecocks’ reputation in that regard. Then the players trooped in and said, yeah, it sucks to lose, but we’re right there on the cusp of winning!

Yet one also has to ask, how can losing be fun? Elliott wasn’t handed a Super Bowl champ, or even a CarQuest Bowl participant, when he took over. To expect him to turn this group around was foolish. Anything this team won would be 96 percent sow’s ear and 4 percent silk purse. If the Gamecocks win, it’s in spite of themselves.

The first three and a half quarters, this team was done. Season over. There was no belief, no gumption, no want-to. That seemed to be the final nail in Elliott’s fledgling hopes to stick around.

Then here they came again, and restored at least a little bit of hope that it will turn around, that this team will have a landmark victory – and with only two choices, guess who that would be against? While it looks about as likely as not seeing orange overalls in two weeks – isn’t a win over Clemson possible? At least possible?

The Gamecocks believe. They’re having fun. That’s all the product of their new coach.

They’re also still losing. And while it’s not Elliott’s fault – this season was set up to be a stinker long before he was in charge – he has to take the responsibility.

The season’s been reduced to hope. While it may be small or fleeting, it’s still there.

Something bad can’t always happen, right?

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