Published November 10, 2011 - 11:10am
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Ideal is not the word to define the 2011 college football season for the South Carolina Gamecocks, and football teams, as well as their fans, throughout the country. Happy Valley has been renamed Neverland Ranch, the game of the century was more boring than a viewing party for a cross country marathon, and ESPN appears almost as corrupt as the NObama administration. South Carolina has lost their quarterback, their Heisman running back, their legendary coach is rumored to be retiring, and they are on the brink of a second place finish in the SEC east. Three games remain. The goal is to finish strong with a record of 10-2 and let fate decide our destination. Pride belongs to an individual, nothing and no one can take it away.
This team and we fans have a lot to be proud of in 2011. The obstacles this team has overcome to post a 7-2 record would have dismantled many other programs. South Carolina decided to keep winning and chose perseverance over pity. The Auburn loss was disappointing, but there is no shame losing in Fayetteville to a team with an outside shot at the national title. Georgia has luckily slid into first place with seven straight wins against feeble opponents. All the Gamecocks can do is win, and then pray the Bulldogs stumble.
The once mighty, heavily bandaged Florida Gators will arrive in Columbia on Saturday seeking bowl eligibility and positive momentum heading into 2012. Muschamp’s first season is not a pretty portrait either, and injuries have plagued their once promising season. Gator bait in 2011 is disappointing and consists of tiny minnows, a volunteer, a mildcat, a commodore, and hopefully their jaws cannot open wide enough for a Gamecock.
South Carolina must revive their defense after it was pummeled against Arkansas. Petrino boldly stated the Razorbacks should have scored 60, and Spurrier quietly agreed. John Brantley appears healthy and has an arm that can test the resolve of the Gamecock secondary. I don’t know what Charlie Weiss is doing when he looks at his offensive “menu”, but I bet he takes a number out of Petrino’s book and tries to beat South Carolina over the top. The Gamecock secondary was atop the mountain in the world of college football defenses, and then quickly removed by an avalanche of Razorbacks. Regain the swagger Gilmore and shut the Gator’s pass attack down.
The Florida running attack has been their most consistent and threatening aspect. Rainey, Demps, and Gillislee have rushed for over 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns. Antonio Allen will be back in uniform, and the defensive line and linebackers will continue to impose their will. Containment will be the priority as speed is matched against speed. Our front seven must be careful in not charging too far up field, because everyone knows how fast a gator runs in a straight line.
It has been said Pride goeth before a fall. In Columbia the fall appears ready to go and the season clings to the hope of Gamecock pride. The players and coaches have a choice. For the first time this season they are looking up from second place, and a trip to Atlanta can only be booked if Georgia becomes our travel agent. Take the field on Saturday and win with effort, speed, intelligence and pride. Win first and then we will wait.