Opportunity Arises, Will It Be Seized?
Gamecock Nation is well aware of the supposed "chicken curse" that has long plagued South Carolina athletics for generations now. Whether the curse is real or not, you have to admit the Gamecocks seem to have had more than their fair share of heartbreak and unlucky bounces over the years. These setbacks haven't only taken place on the field, as many have been off the field issues that in one way or another have impeded the progress of the program.
A few examples in recent memory that come to mind are:
1. A blocked field goal attempt that would have defeated the eventual national champion Florida Gators.
2. The infamous push off of Rod Gardner that gave Clemson the ability to kick a winning field goal.
3. The Andrew Pinnock fumble that came against Georgia inside the 5 yard line.
4. The Mike Davis fumble against Georgia at the goal line last year.
5. The Blake Mitchell interception thrown against Clemson on the Gamecocks first offensive play in the 2007 game in Columbia.
6. The inability of the Gamecocks to stop the Tigers on 4th down to win the game in 2007.
7. The inability of the Gamecocks in recent years to stop a team on 4th down no matter the distance.
8. The loss of two running backs in Derek Watson & Demetris Summers that could have been program changing players.
9. The phantom safety call of Dondrial Pinkins against Ole Miss.
10. Of course the YouTube sensation, Garcia being tackled (It sure looked intentional) by referee Wilbur Hackett Jr. during the LSU game last year.
The list could obviously go on and on, as many Gamecock fans could probably recall many more instances where the Gamecocks were on what seemed to be the bad end of fate.
However, just as there have been moments in Gamecock history that no one wants to think about anymore, there have also been glimpses of potential and what just might be if a few things were to go the Gamecocks way.
1. Do you remember the upstart Gamecocks and young Sidney Rice taking down the Tennessee Volunteers in the first season of the Ole Ball Coach's tenure?
2. Do you remember the Gamecocks knocking off the Florida Gators the first year that Coach Spurrier arrived?
3. Do you remember South Carolina making the big plays and knocking off Georgia in their house two years ago?
4. Do you remember the Gamecocks rallying in Death Valley and turning the tables on the Tigers and taking victory away from them in 2006?
5. Do you remember the back to back wins against a college football powerhouse in the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Outback bowl?
6. Do you remember the Gamecocks making all the big plays against a supposed top 10 Kentucky team in 2007?
7. Do you remember the Gamecocks going on the road last year and beating an Ole Miss team who beat the eventual national champion Gators a week earlier in the Swamp and who absolutely dismantled a very good Texas Tech team in the Cotton Bowl last year?
You see, good things have happened to the Gamecocks in the past. Not only that, good things seem to be happening on a more frequent basis. The difference? Talent and players making plays!
South Carolina has long fought an uphill battle in terms of being competitive on the field of play in regard to overall talent. We're not just talking about the talent of those that are 1st string on the depth chart, but of the overall talent and depth of the team as a whole.
What has slowly seemed to change over the recent years is the influx of SEC quality players into the South Carolina program. Another thing that has changed is that the Gamecocks have been the beneficiary of two hall of fame coaches trying their best to change the Gamecock program's stars. A culture change, if you will. You can even see the effects of such a shift in the elevated expectations of Gamecock fans.
This year's Gamecock team has the opportunity to build on what has slowly begun to happen. Yes, they are a young and inexperienced team, but they are also a very talented and gifted team. So much so that Spurrier said himself that this may be the most talented team he has fielded yet at the University of South Carolina.
Remember, the difference between those who succeed on the field and those who don't is more often than not players making plays for their team. So on Thursday night when the young and talented Gamecocks take the field, all eyes will be watching to see if this is the team that finally realizes its potential and seizes the moment.
The Gamecocks have a proven winner in Coach Spurrier leading the way. They have a coaching staff which Spurrier calls his best ever assembled. They have the talent to win, the most talented team to ever take the field under Spurrier's direction at South Carolina. They have yet another banner recruiting class on the way this fall. The athletic facilities and training areas have risen to new heights, and yes, the most loyal fans in all of college football are those of Gamecock Nation. Things are slowly falling into place.
All the Gamecocks need is a few things to go their way on the field of play. If this young and talented team learns that they not only have the chance to change the face of South Carolina football, but that "They can," there will be a lot of happy Gamecocks this fall. The future will be bright, a standard will have been established, and most importantly a knowledge gained that they have always had the ability to change their fate, and they always will. For the Gamecocks, it's time to make some plays and seize the opportunity.
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