Josh Kendall

Gamecocks trying to learn from last year’s big game mistake

The anticipation for Saturday’s South Carolina-Georgia game advanced another notch Tuesday when the Gamecocks entered the Top 25 for the first time in four years.

Now, No. 24 South Carolina’s players will spend the week trying to dial back that excitement.

“You can’t look to Saturday, you have to take it day-by-day,” sophomore wide receiver Randrecous Davis said. “We talk about that all the time. You have to stay even-keeled. You can’t be too high, can’t be too low. You need to be right in between. (Coach Will Muschamp) preaches it a lot.”

The No. 3 Bulldogs (1-0) won the SEC title last year and have beaten the Gamecocks (1-0) three consecutive seasons, but South Carolina’s players aren’t circling this game, or any game, on the calendar this year.

“Last year, we got up for certain games and made games different,” senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “That’s something that we talked about in the offseason — that we’re not going to take any game different. Every game, we want to impose our will. We want to make sure we just go out there and do our job.”

Kentucky was another example, Allen-Williams said, as the Gamecocks tried to snap what was then a three-game losing streak and instead stumbled through a 23-13 loss.

“A lot of us lost our composure, and the result was what it was,” he said. “The Clemson game is one coach Muschamp likes to talk about where we tried to get up for it instead of doing our job.”

It also happened against the Bulldogs last year, senior tight end Jacob August said.

“When we played Georgia and Clemson and those kinds of teams in the past we did get a little too hyped up, and by the time the game started we were kind of winded,” August said. “This week we are taking the ‘every week is a season’ mentality.”

South Carolina and Georgia have met nine times as ranked teams. The Gamecocks have won six of those games, including the most recent one when No. 24 South Carolina beat No. 6 Georgia 38-35 in Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks have won three of the last four games in this series on their home turf.

South Carolina’s appearance in the AP poll is its first since 2014, when it fell out of the rankings following a 21-20 loss to Missouri in September. Muschamp wasn’t thinking much about ending that streak on Tuesday.

“We’ll have zero discussion about it,” he said. “If I do discuss it, it will be a solid 15 seconds of a waste of our time.”