“Days Of Our Gamecocks”
“Like sands through the hourglass … so are the days of our Gamecocks.”
And while one is slotting them for daytime television just yet … there’s been plenty of drama during the University of South Carolina’s 2013 football season.
We’ve had another dust-up involving head coach Steve Spurrier and the (supplicant) media, some possible drunk broadcasting by the “Head Ball Coach,” the yet-to-be-explained suspension of star wide receiver Shaq Roland, and of course the biggest soap opera of the all – the “will he, won’t he” saga of future NFL No. 1 draft pick Jadeveon Clowney.
This week saw Spurrier and Clowney address the lingering questions raised by the All-American defensive end’s decision to sit out last week’s 35-28 win over Kentucky.
One prominent analyst – ESPN’s Paul Finebaum – went so far as to call Clowney “the biggest joke in college football” after the 6-foot-6, 274-pound Rock Hill, S.C. native scratched himself from the lineup moments before Saturday’s kickoff.
“He was in pain. It was diagnosed later, and obviously we all handled it poorly. All of us did,” Spurrier said of his superstar.
Meanwhile Clowney did his best to pour cold water on rumors that he was shutting down his 2013 season early to focus on the 2014 NFL draft.
“Am I fully committed? Always,” Clowney said. “I could’ve sat out. I’m not looking to sit out. I’m not that type of guy. I’m here for the team.”
Okay … one issue down.
South Carolina’s chaotic 2013 reminds us of the turmoil of 2011 – when the Gamecocks lost a game they should have won to defending national champion Auburn (the final college game of drama magnet/ former starting quarterback Stephen Garcia). That team rallied down the stretch though – winning seven of its last eight games en route to the first eleven-win season in program history.
Similarly the Gamecocks were down in the dumps following back-to-back road losses to No. 9 LSU and No. 2 Florida a year ago – defeats which came at a time when allegations of drug use were rocking the program. Again, though, the team rallied … winning its final five games en route to another 11-win season (and second consecutive Top Ten finish).
Can this year’s team show the same resilience?
And more importantly can a defense that lost six starters from a year ago finally figure out how to stop opposing offenses?
We’ll find out over the next three weeks as South Carolina embarks on a three-game road trip to Arkansas, Tennessee and No. 25 Missouri. Then we’ll find out for real when USC closes out its regular season with a four-game home stand including tilts against No. 17 Florida and No. 3 Clemson.
Bottom line? The No. 13/14 Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) are still capable of matching (and perhaps even exceeding) the historic accomplishments of the past two seasons – especially if running back Mike Davis continues to put up Heisman Trophy-caliber numbers moving forward.
What do the Gamecocks need?
“Less drama, more defense.”