COLUMBIA, S.C. – There are no trap games when you’re 2-4.
During an ideal season, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp would have taken some time over the last week to make sure his team wasn’t looking past Saturday’s game against Massachusetts to next weekend’s SEC East showdown with Tennessee.
The 1-6 Minutemen lost 47-35 to the same Mississippi State squad that beat the Gamecocks in Starkville. And they also played Florida tight in the opener, falling 24-7.
Plus, South Carolina has its own issues, like figuring things out at quarterback and stopping the run.
Perhaps that’s why Muschamp didn’t have much to say about UMass during his opening statement in Tuesday’s press conference.
“Mark Whipple is an outstanding offensive football coach, coached in the National Football League. This is his second stint at UMass,” Muschamp said. “This is a football team that was in a 10-7 game going into the fourth quarter down in The Swamp against Florida and led Mississippi State at halftime, a team that beat us.”
Normally, those openings include fairly lengthy thoughts about the upcoming opponent. Not this one.
One might translate that portion of the statement to something along the lines of: no offense, but Saturday’s game isn’t about you.
Because it really isn’t.
That’s why South Carolina spent its bye week looking in the mirror. The Gamecocks were too busy trying to figure out their own problems. UMass, Tennessee and everyone else left in the final half of the season were in the periphery.
“Need great preparation from our guys this week,” Muschamp continued in Tuesday’s opening statement.
“Thought we had a great open week as far as our guys and how they approached the open week. I’m very pleased with that. We need to get back to Williams-Brice (Stadium) and play, and we are looking forward to getting in front of our fans. You need to be there early, early kick (noon ET, SEC Network) and we are looking forward to it.”
There were 22 of them. Four were about freshman Jake Bentley and the Gamecocks quarterback plans for Saturday. None were asked about the Minutemen.
We’ll try to fill in some of the blanks. Here are a few things to know for South Carolina fans looking to bone up on Saturday’s opponent:
- Wide receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the team with 427 receiving yards, had 7 yards on 2 catches as a freshman last season.
- Running back Marquis Young leads the team with 544 yards rushing. That’s 77 percent of the team’s production on the ground.
- Inside linebacker Steve Casali leads the team with 63 tackles.
- Outside linebacker Da’Sean Downey leads the team with 4 sacks.
- UMass is 1 for 4 on field goals this season. Its opponents are 13-for-13.
- 1,857 is the total yards by punter Logan Laurent, who averages 42.2 yards per punt over 44 punts.