COLUMBIA -- This season was never going to be measured on the Alabama game for South Carolina.
If they won, it’d be big for the program, but Alabama’s been handing out losses to every SEC East program it’s faced since 2010 and will probably continue to do so moving forward.
This season, especially the early portion, was always going to be about two games: at Missouri and Kentucky, with those two games really telling how far the program’s come the last four years.
“It’s for the East. We can’t lose. It’s not really us trying to make a statement; we’re desperate right now. We need a win,” Jaycee Horn said. “Things haven’t started how we need them to so we need to come out fast and physical and play good the next two weeks.”
The Gamecocks enter Saturday’s game in Missouri, though, in a different spot than they expected entering the year, below-.500 instead of with two wins like a lot of people expected making this SEC East opener carry maybe a little more weight.
Right now, all but two SEC East teams have a loss on their record with three at two losses. Florida and Georgia are the only two undefeated teams with Florida struggling some with Miami to open the year and Kentucky last week on the road.
Outside of Georgia, who was the definitive favorite to win the division at Media Days, no team has really separated itself as the second-best team in the East, which means the Gamecocks could do a lot to improve their stock against the Tigers.
“Our team goals are all still out there: beat the East and win the state,” Dakereon Joyner said. “This is our first SEC East game, and it’s on the road. We want to send the seniors out right, start it off well and definitely win the East.”
After the Alabama game, plenty of players talked about approaching this week as a desperate football team, knowing a third loss this early wouldn’t be good with 75% left to play of a brutal schedule.
But what does a desperate team necessarily look like?
“Dangerous team,” Joyner said. “You’ll see what it looks like Saturday.”
Jay Urich tends to agree with Joyner, saying it’s about knowing what you want, going and taking it.
“I think grit is a big characteristic,” he said. “I think just going after it and not really tip-toeing and going after what we want. Desperation is something you have to have. I think that’s sort of the mindset we have.”
Muschamp said he spoke to the group of leaders on the team Sunday after the team dropped to 1-2 to talk about expectations for the rest of the year and moving forward to Missouri and then Kentucky the following week.
He left encouraged, saying the leadership is in a “really good spot” right now and it has been all season.
“In meeting with those guys on Sunday and talking about where we are and being realistic in it’s not where we want to be or where we thought we’d be, but this is where we are right now. Understand where we are and what we need to do to crawl out of it. That’s what we’re going to do.”
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