Last season against Kentucky, Bryson Allen-Williams suffered a season-ending injury and also suffered through South Carolina’s fourth consecutive loss to the Wildcats.
The Gamecocks’ senior linebacker is not holding a grudge, though. He and his teammates can’t afford to, he said.
“When you make things personal, that’s when you tend to make mistakes, you do things outside the norm; and we can’t do that against a team like this,” Allen-Williams said Tuesday. “You have to make sure you do your job.”
South Carolina (2-1 overall, 1-1 SEC) takes on the No. 17 Wildcats (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Lexington, Ky. It’s the first time since 2007 and just the third time in history that the Gamecocks are playing a ranked Kentucky game. The unranked version has been plenty tough enough for South Carolina lately, though.
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“It’s 2018,” Allen-Williams said. “All we can control is what we can control. All we can worry about is the present.”
That’s the point South Carolina coach Will Muschamp made to his team in a Tuesday morning meeting, emphasizing to the players that he will talk about the 2018 Gamecocks against the 2018 Wildcats and nothing else this week.
“We haven’t (addressed the losing streak),” Muschamp said.
“When you turn it into one of those ‘How bad do you want to win?’ it kind of gets your focus off and that creates a distraction, so we want to look at it like our next opponent,” Gamecocks wide receiver Bryan Edwards said. “We want to beat win obviously. We have to beat the teams in the East to go to that SEC championship, and they’re another opponent.”
Kentucky’s last four wins have come by an average of seven points, and last year, the streak survived Deebo Samuel scoring on the first offensive play of the game and the Gamecocks forcing a turnover on Kentucky’s first possession in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We will put everything into this week,” Muschamp said. “We are going to worry about the things that really matter and can affect us in the ball game. That’s our preparation and how we practice and how we meet and how we walk through and how we practice and the amount of time we spend on football outside the building.”
South Carolina had won 13 of 14 games against the Wildcats before this streak started. The Gamecocks lead the overall series 17-11-1.
“It’s not personal,” Allen-Williams said. “We have to approach games the same way. It’s nothing personal against Kentucky. We just have to come out and play. It’s another opportunity to come out there and play.”
Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw mostly echoed that sentiment. Mostly.
“Every game means something to me,” Kinlaw said. “I know the losing streak. I know what’s going on. It builds up a little fire.”