When South Carolina coach Will Muschamp addressed his team Tuesday morning, he knew how to get their attention, at least get the attention of the veterans in the room.
“I brought it up,” Muschamp said.
“It” being an embarrassing 23-22 loss to The Citadel in 2015, a game that marked the low point of the lowest season in recent memory at South Carolina. At the time, it summed up just how far the program had fallen, and now it is serving as a cautionary tale as the Gamecocks get ready to face another Southern Conference opponent, Wofford, at 4 p.m. Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We addressed that situation, and I leaned on a lot of the experience of our football team that went through that in understanding, it starts with your preparation,” Muschamp said. “That's the most important thing, to prepare the right way. Proper preparation prevents poor performance in a lot of situations. That's kind of where we start. That's all we can control right now is our preparation.”
This South Carolina team is in a much different place than that 2015 squad. The Citadel game was the fifth game following former coach Steve Spurrier’s resignation, and the Gamecocks were 3-7 and had lost three straight heading into the game. The 2017 Gamecocks are 7-3 and have won four of their past five.
Still, The Citadel looms for some of the veterans.
“I would just say there was not a lot of effort there (in The Citadel game),” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “A lot of guys let down. It was a challenging game. They were very competitive, just didn’t think the effort was there, and I think it’ll be completely different this year.”
There’s also the possibility of a look ahead game for South Carolina, which hosts No. 4 Clemson next week.
“We all know what game we have next week,” Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore said, “but we’re all locked in and focused on Wofford and not getting distracted.”
If they can manage that, the Gamecocks shouldn’t have a tough time getting their eighth win of the season Saturday.
Prediction: South Carolina 28, Wofford 14