It wasn’t too long ago that South Carolina was limping off its home field after losing to the Citadel.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Gamecocks pieced together just a three-win season.
That was just two years and a coaching staff ago, which is why, when the Gamecocks clinched their first winning season since 2014 Saturday, it was special.
“Being able to see the progress in the program,” A.J. Turner, who set a season high with 136 rushing yards, said. “You work hard every day, and some of us stay after to do extra, and I feel like we can feel like that doesn’t play a factor into what we do and it doesn’t come into game days. Today I felt like it did.”
South Carolina held on to beat Florida for its seventh win with two more games to play.
The Gamecocks have more SEC wins this season than their last two conference years combined.
“I’m very proud of where we’re at right now, but we still have to get better,” Taylor Stallworth said. “But I’m very proud of where we’re at coming from this year to last year. It’s a huge progression.”
Saturday’s win also clinched at least a share of second place in the SEC, a far cry from the bottom-dwelling team that Muschamp inherited two years ago.
The coach hammered home, starting in his initial press conference, his desire to beat and dominate Eastern division opponents. With the win this week, USC finished 4-2 against divisional opponents, the most wins since 2013.
It’s the first time since 2011, when they went undefeated in the East, that the Gamecocks beat both Tennessee and Florida in the same season.
“To me, you talk about progress. This football team was 3-9 last year — 3-9. And I just complimented them in the locker room. You talk about investing in what you need to do to be successful,” Muschamp said. “And I’m really proud of this football team on how they invested in us and in themselves and in each other.”
With seven notches already in the win column, the Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) welcome in Wofford and Clemson to Williams-Brice to close out the season.
A spilt of those two games would make it eight wins, the most since winning 11 in 2013. Winning both would likely send South Carolina to a bowl on New Year’s Day and give the Gamecocks a win over the Tigers for the first time since 2013.
But sitting constantly at eight wins isn’t enough for Muschamp. He’s trying to use this season as a launching pad for bigger and better things in Columbia.
“There’s a lot of progress being made. We’re not happy with where we are; so don’t misunderstand what I’m saying,” he said. “We have a lot more out there for us moving forward. But I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made.”
South Carolina received two votes in The Associated Press poll and 33 votes in the Amway Coaches' poll.