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Saturday didn’t go as well as Gamecock Nation had hope it would go, but it went just about how we should have expected it to.
Will Muschamp’s return to the Swamp wasn’t anywhere as bad as it could have been. The Gators dominated every aspect of the football game and were able to do what no team had done in the Bentley Era…force turnovers.
The Gators stout defense forced two fumbles and freshmen quarterback Jake Bentley’s very first interception of his very young college career. They were also able to hold the Gamecocks scoreless until there were just under 7-minutes left in the game.
That is where one of the silver linings comes for the Gamecocks.
The 11-play 80-yard drive leading to Carolina’s lone touchdown was followed by another impressive drive that came up just short of making this a one possession ballgame in the final minute of the game. These two drives showed what Bentley is capable of and will be able to do with a little more experience under his belt and a better offensive line in front of him.
The other silver lining was once again the defense.
Yes, the Gamecocks defense gave up nearly 400-yards in the game, but they forced two turnovers and held the Gator offense to just 20-points. Doing that makes a game winnable and Carolina had its chances, but dropped passes and turnovers of their own was their undoing.
What this game represented was a heavy dose of reality for the Gamecocks and their fans. We were all riding high after the 3-game winning streak and upset of Tennessee. We had hope and even started believing in the slightest of chances to sneak a division title.
Then came reality.
The reality is, this is the 2016 Gamecocks. They have overachieved on defense all season long (and continued to do so on Saturday) and they have promise, but a long way to go on offense.
The Gator defense was hands down the best defense that Jake Bentley has seen. When you couple that with the fact that he was also facing that defense in the first road game of his career and the fact that said first road game was in the Swamp…you get your dose of reality.
Jake Bentley will be great, heck he kind of already has been, but the problems that have doomed the Gamecocks all season cannot be ignored. Those problems can, however, be fixed through recruiting…and I trust this coaching staff in that department above all others.
So, as I tweeted out on Saturday, this loss didn’t really matter. It was a necessary dose of reality, but in the end a win this week over WCU gives the Gamecocks 6-wins and a bowl birth. That, in my opinion, is the ultimate sign of progress in a season we thought was lost just 4-weeks ago.
A 6-win season and a bowl game is without a doubt a successful season after the 3-9 debacle that was 2015. If you don’t see any progress from this season, then you’re not looking.
As always, keep your heads held high and look to the future…it’s a promising one!
Forever to thee!
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