COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolina wrapped up its first weekend of bowl practices, there was a bit of levity waiting for the Gamecocks.
The team went to see Bad Santa 2 on Sunday night after finishing four practices as they prepare to play in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29 against South Florida.
While the entertainment was appreciated, the reviews on the film were not so good.
“I wouldn’t recommend going to see it,” quarterback Perry Orth said.
Offensive lineman Mason Zandi elaborated: “It’s a terrible movie. It’s got some funny lines in it. Do not take anyone under the age of 18 to that. Your kids, don’t even take your wife. It’s completely vulgar and, at some points, repulsive.”
The Gamecocks have had a little time for fun in the early portion of bowl practices, also going bowling Tuesday night. It’s a bowl practice plan that South Carolina players say differs some from the practice schedule under former coach Steve Spurrier, who led the Gamecocks in their most recent bowl appearance, the 2014 Independence Bowl.
“They try to have a good time, get practices done with in the morning so you have the rest of your day so you can get in and enjoy your time off,” Orth said. “(Coach Will Muschamp) wants to bowl games fun because there’s no sense in having an entire month of just slaving away to football.”
Zandi said Spurrier often took up more of the day with meetings, lunch and more meetings, as the prep closely resembled preseason camp. Others, including linebacker T.J. Holloman, said the schedule does not feel that different in the way Muschamp is running bowl prep compared to Spurrier.
“The schedule is pretty much the same,” Holloman said, “but when it comes down to practices, it’s way more physical.”
The level of physicality in the practices has been a continuous subject this week, as both offensive and defensive players said bowl prep has felt like a preseason camp. Holloman said everyone has been tackling, including offensive players.
“My first year when we went to Shreveport, bowl prep was physical,” defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth said. “But it wasn’t like this. We got out there and it’s straight physical. That’s what they preach: We’ve gotta be more physical on the field.”
The intensity was expected, but all in all, South Carolina players say there is a different level of intensity to the practices – even if there is time for a bad movie.
“I think with coach Spurrier, it was more relaxed,” running back David Williams said. “It was more fun. This is business this year.”