COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - During his press conference on Tuesday, South Carolina redshirt senior defensive lineman Keir Thomas said it best -- the Gamecocks are not where they want to be.
Will Muschamp’s team enters the weekend without a victory and looking to avoid a 3-game losing streak. More importantly, Carolina has lost six of their last seven and would also like to break a 5-game losing skid that dates back to last season.
“Of course, we want to be 2-0,” Thomas said. “We did some good things against two very good opponents, but we’re still not where we want to be. We have a good opportunity this weekend to go out and try to get a win against a good Vandy team. They’re going to fight like they always do.”
We’ve heard players and coaches say the Gamecocks “aren’t where they’d like to be” a few times over the past few years.
But I get it. New team. New season.
While the Gamecocks look a little different from a year ago from a personnel standpoint but small mistakes have been the Achilles heel of this team and they’re hoping to avoid making a bunch of those this weekend when they face Vanderbilt.
So how do they get past that? They do that by focusing on their weaknesses during practice and, hopefully, that translates into execution on game day.
But there’s another thing that stands out from years past that we haven’t seen in the last few games Carolina has played. That’s being able to see the hard work they’ve put in during practice yield the successful outcome they’ve been seeking. In other words, the hard work they’ve put out before Saturday hasn’t always produced the victory they hoped for and the Gamecocks are hoping to eventually see their fruits of their labor.
So how does Carolina learn how to win? Simple. It’s a matter of consistent execution.
“I think that, when you talk in terms of that, it’s those five to seven to eight plays of putting yourself in a position to win in those situations,” Muschamp said when asked about the concept of learning how to win. “Now, part of that goes into coaching, of putting your guys in a position to make a play and they have that opportunity. They need to make the play. So, it’s twofold in my opinion and I do think that you will yourself to win. You believe you’re going to win. You know you’re going to win and that’s something that comes from confidence.”
One thing the Gamecocks aren’t lacking is confidence. They may not have the victories to show for it, but they believe they’re right on the edge of a breakthrough.
“A lot of people on the outside looking in don’t think we’re very good and we’re okay with that,” Thomas said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve had to prove people wrong. So, we’re just looking forward to turning it around and proving those people wrong.”
That turn that Thomas is talking about could start with a win over Vandy. The Gamecocks have won the last 11 meetings between the two teams and 18 of the last 20.
For some fans, this game is a foregone conclusion and Carolina should come away with the win. However, the players and coaches won’t take Vandy lightly.
“We always go into every game expecting we’re going to win, regardless of who has us losing or winning, regardless,” aid Gamecocks redshirt sophomore running back Deshaun Fenwick. “We know, as a team, how good we are and we just know we have to go out and execute.”
South Carolina will travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt at noon on Saturday. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
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This season, WIS Sports Reporter Emery Glover will provide reaction from games in an op-ed called “Fair Catch.” Be sure to catch the latest installment every week.