Talking season has turned into must-win season for Steve Spurrier.

SEC Championship dreams took a tumble, but didn’t shatter after last week’s loss to Texas A&M and responding with a bounce-back win against East Carolina on Saturday in prep for Georgia would go a long way in re-establishing South Carolina’s worth across the nation.

The Gamecocks dropped to No. 21 in Tuesday’s AP Top 25 poll and didn’t look like a Top 10 team their first time out. South Carolina was left off several ballots including Josh Kendall of The State, a result of not passing the eye test.

It was one of those games that sticks with a program for years.

“We’re still and will always be embarrassed by our performance last game,” Spurrier said Tuesday during his weekly media availability. “We realize it’s history and we realize the only thing we can do is try to learn from it, try to play a whole bunch better and coach a whole bunch better the next time out. That’s where we are right now.”

On the heels of three straight 11-2 seasons and only one pre-October loss since 2011, the opening night gut punch came as a surprise. The Gamecocks were humbled and maybe not as good as the talking heads originally thought.

“You have to go one game at a time … preseason talk is all it is,” Spurrier said. “No one knows how a team really comes around to be. There’s obviously expectations every year. Some teams may not be as good as advertised and some are better than advertised. It’s a wait-and-see for us. Wait and see.”

Spurrier’s turned it up a notch in practice this week, altering his usual routine by being more competitive and said there’s been some ‘1s vs 1s’ battles at times.

Pass blocking and rushing the passer has been a focus, two sub-par areas the last time out.

“We’re hoping and believing that we can perform a lot better than the last game,” Spurrier said. “Again, give the fans the team they’ve been watching the last several years.”