South Carolina’s football players are stuck somewhere between never wanting to think about last year’s game against Clemson and never wanting to forget. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp is hoping to help with either approach.
“I think, as a coach, you’re always trying to look at it in terms of motivation,” said Muschamp, who showed his team clips Tuesday reminding them of that 56-7 defeat in Death Valley. “We’re all motivated differently. Some guys are self-starters, and you don’t really have to say a whole lot to them. Some guys need to have a little bit of a reason to get excited.”
The Gamecocks (8-3) host the second-ranked Tigers (10-1) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium.
Clemson outgained South Carolina 622-218 a year ago, led 42-0 before the Gamecocks got on the board, called late timeouts to allow their seniors to be applauded leaving the field and then several Tigers talked about the outcome in blunt terms after the game.
“I guess some guys need to be reminded of it every day to fire them up,” said South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley, who was 7-of-17 for 41 yards in that game.”It’s kind of different for each guy. Some guys I think feed off that more.”
Gamecocks senior defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth is one of the players who likes to be reminded of the game.
“Honestly, that has been going around in our head since last year since the game was over with,” Stallworth said. “We are constantly thinking that.”
Asked if he believed the Tigers respected South Carolina, Gamecocks senior center Alan Knott quickly replied, “No.”
“The way they finished the game out was not very good sportsmanship in my opinion, but you know that’s fine,” Knott said. “We’re going to get our revenge on them this year. We are going to put forth every effort we’ve got. We’ll be ready this year. There’s no doubt that.”
Senior safety D.J. Smith also was particularly peeved by the end of last year’s game.
“There was disrespect because they called two timeouts to gloat on us last year,” he said. “We remember all of that, so it’s in the back of our heads. We are ready to play.”
Linebacker Skai Moore, the only player on the team to play in a victory against the Tigers (2013), is taking the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach.
“I haven’t really heard much about that game,” Moore said. “I guess everyone put that behind us. It’s a new team, a new vibe, a new game. We are just going to go out there and try to play our game. All I can tell you is we’re going to come in here prepared, and we are going to put a body on a body and just try to win the game.”
“I mean, (last year’s game) has come up for sure, but it’s another game,” offensive lineman Cory Helms said. “We really treat every game. Just like Wofford, we treat the same as Florida. We really do treat every game the same here, but it has come up.”
Who: USC (8-3, 5-3 SEC) vs. Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
Line: Clemson by 14