Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
South Carolina finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, just 2 years removed from going 3-9.

Will Muschamp breaks down loss to Clemson; plus, the latest bowl projections for South Carolina

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Closing remarks on Palmetto Bowl

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance in its 34-10 loss to the Clemson Tigers on Saturday night.

The Gamecocks have now dropped four straight games to the Tigers.

“Just extremely disappointing. To start the game, miscommunication on the receiver and quarterback,” Muschamp said. “… We had our opportunities there to start the second half and miss four or five tackles on a simple bubble screen.”

The second-year South Carolina coach stressed the Gamecocks need to “handle the moment better.”

With the loss, South Carolina dropped to 8-4 on the season, a two-win improvement of the 6-6 regular-season mark from last season.

Florida-bound for bowl season?

The latest round of bowl projections has South Carolina heading to the Sunshine State — playing in either the TaxSlayer, Outback or Citrus Bowl, all located in Florida.

SBNation has one of the most intriguing matchups for the Gamecocks: a New Year’s Day date with Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl.

The Gamecocks are 8-13 all time in bowl games. South Carolina lost to South Florida, 46-39, in overtime in the Birmingham Bowl last season.

Keep your cool

According to David Caraviello of SEC Country, the Gamecocks were undone by their sloppiness and miscommunication in the loss to the Tigers.

“This eight-win team under Muschamp had come so far that the finale against mighty Clemson merited the showcase spot on ESPN,” Caraviello wrote. “What viewers saw was a Gamecocks squad not ready for prime time, that lost its poise and never regained it, that committed too many of the seemingly small mistakes that add up to an onslaught against an opponent capable of winning the national championship.”

Despite the miscues against Clemson, the 2017 season “remains a breakthrough campaign for South Carolina.”

‘Jake’s our quarterback’

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley completed 16 of 29 passes for 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in the loss against Clemson, but there’s one throw in particular that stands out for the sophomore: the pick-6 in the first quarter.

“At the end of the day, I throw the ball and I’ve got to be responsible for every pass that I throw, so that’s 100 percent on me,” Bentley told reporters after the game. “I’ve just got to be better.”

Muschamp stood by his quarterback, attributing some of the passing game issues to protection.

“Jake’s our quarterback,” Muschamp said. “You’ve got to protect a little bit better.”

Bentley finished the regular season completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,555 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with 6 rushing scores.

4-star CB re-opens recruitment

Four-star cornerback and major South Carolina target Jaycee Horn de-committed from Tennessee on Sunday.

The Alpharetta (Ga.) High School standout was among those prospects at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.

Horn, the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, is rated as the No. 217 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

On the pitch

The South Carolina women’s soccer team made history on Friday night when it defeated Florida, 2-0, at Stone Stadium in Columbia to move on to the program’s first-ever College Cup, the women’s soccer equivalent of the Final Four.

The Gamecocks won their second straight SEC regular-season title this season. South Carolina has outscored opponents, 7-0, in the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament, according to a release from the athletic department.

The Gamecocks will face the top-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Friday at 5 p.m. EST in Orlando, Fla.

Silver linings and Monday motivation

The week after a loss in the Palmetto Bowl is always rough, but South Carolina fans should look forward to an exciting bowl opponent and a chance at nine wins. The Gamecocks have won nine or more games only six times in their history.

The Gamecocks’ last few bowl games have given South Carolina fans a number of memories, from “The Hit” by Jadeveon Clowney against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl to Bentley’s breakout performance against South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl last season.

One such highlight from a recent bowl? A 9-yard touchdown pass from do-everything WR Pharoh Cooper to QB Connor Shaw in South Carolina’s 34-24 win against Nebraska in the 2012 Capital One Bowl.

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