Next week, South Carolina will play one of the best college football teams in the country.
This week, the Gamecocks are going to act like that’s the case.
“Every week we are going to prepare like we’re playing the best team in America, focus on playing fast and physical,” South Carolina defensive end D.J. Wonnum said. “Fall camp we said it, we’re going to focus on fall camp. Fall camp finished and now we’re going to focus on Coastal. We are just focusing on Coastal right now.”
That’s Coastal Carolina, which comes to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday at noon for the first football game of the season. The Chanticleers are in their second season of FBS football and ranked 125th of 130 teams in the ESPN’s Football Power Index. One week after that game, No. 3 Georgia, the favorite to win the SEC’s Eastern Division, will come to Williams-Brice for what could be the most important game of South Carolina’s season.
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“Let’s focus and be dialed in to what we can control this week, and that’s playing Coastal. End of sentence,” Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said. “Whether it’s in the meeting room, whether it’s on the practice field, all of our concentration needs to be there. Everybody else can talk about all the other stuff.”
To drive the point home, Muschamp handed out white plastic bracelets to all the players Tuesday that feature one of the team’s old mottos — So What? Now What? — and this year’s newest motto — EWAS, which stands for Every Week’s A Season.
“It’s really our motto all the time. I always talk to the players about every week is a season,” Muschamp said. “We need to handle what we can control, and that’s playing Coastal. And our preparation is so important for that. So that to me was my message.”
The message will get a significant test this week considering the Gamecocks are 30-point favorites headed into their first game.
“I think it’s one of the most important things that us older guys have to make sure that the team is locked in on. Treat every week the same,” junior quarterback Jake Bentley said. “Coach talks about it all the time, a nameless and faceless opponent. You don’t look at the name or who they’ve beat or what they’ve done, just the scheme that they do and the players they have, go in every week and treat it like a one-game season and just prepare each and every week the same.”
The Gamecocks veterans have embraced the idea, several said.
“It’s probably been said, but they made it more of a motto this year, and it’s true, you have to focus in, lock in each and every week,” junior running back Ty’Son Williams said. “We are not looking past anybody. We want to put our best foot forward each and every week. We want to go out there and dominate each week.”
“It’s the first season so we have to go out there and get this win,” senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “A new season starts next week.”