COLUMBIA, S.C. – Will Muschamp has not talked much about any personal feelings about leading South Carolina to play Florida on Saturday, including behind closed doors.
South Carolina players said Muschamp has downplayed any personal desires to win at his former place of employment, but the Gamecocks don’t need him to say anything. They want to win it for him regardless.
“He keeps saying it is just another game,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “For a sense of pride, I know deep down, he would love for us to get it. I don’t think he’s going to say much about it. I would like to go down there and do it for him.”
Muschamp coached at Florida from 2011-14, going 28-21 in his tenure. He was fired following a 2014 loss to South Carolina, a fact Muschamp said linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams reminded him of Tuesday morning.
Now, Muschamp is the South Carolina coach and he’s coaching a team in Gainesville for the first time since Nov. 22, 2014.
“I’m sure I guess it’s a redemption card for him and he has his own personal reasons to want to win,” offensive lineman Zack Bailey said. “As a group, as a team, we are trying to continue our streak and play the best that we can play.”
The Gamecocks (5-4, 3-4 SEC) head to Florida as winners of their past three games, all with freshman quarterback Jake Bentley at the helm. The offense has started to play at a higher level, the defense still has yet to allow 30 points and suddenly more is on the table Saturday than originally seemed likely. The Gamecocks can stay in the hunt for an SEC East title with a win, which also would clinch a bowl berth.
“We wanna get a win for him and get that win to have an opportunity to play in the SEC championship,” said running back David Williams, who likened what Muschamp must be feeling to what he would feel if he played against a school in his hometown, Philadelphia.
On Tuesday, Muschamp once again didn’t say anything to indicate playing Florida has any additional meaning than any other game. He said he stayed the office as late as he usually does and got back Tuesday morning at the same time he usually arrives.
But his players still want to win one for him.
“We want to get a win for coach,” safety D.J. Smith said. “I feel like that will make him happy. Obviously, he would be happy if we got the win. I think we need the win anyway, if we still wanna win the East and keep having momentum going into that Clemson game.”