The squawk of a Gamecock could be heard all around the outdoor practice facility at the University of Tennessee. It is a signature sound in Columbia whenever South Carolina scores a touchdown or has a big play.
Redshirt junior Brian Randolph said he’s been hearing a lot of it as well as “Sandstorm” and other South Carolina related music at practice. When asked about it, the defensive back said it’s just a way for coaches to get the players used to the environment they will see on Saturday.
“It’s annoying now, so it will be annoying later,” Randolph said. “I think it’s just one of their mind games they’re trying to play with us.”
The players will have to listen to it all week. By Saturday, they will be so sick of it they will do anything they can to prevent hearing it anymore.
That’s at least the plan. Trying to stop an offense full of weapons that is scoring 35 points per game may take more than just motivation to not hear the sound of an obnoxious bird.
“You can’t tell if it’s a run, pass or play-action,” Randolph said. “We’re not looking at their record. Their record is not too impressive but we know they have a lot of talent.”
Yes they do. Quarterback Dylan Thompson is averaging 280 yards per game and his primary receiver, Pharaoh Cooper, is responsible for 70 of those every game. Cooper already has hauled in six touchdowns and 553 yards through the eight games. With two impressive running backs in Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds, Tennessee will have their hands full on slowing down this Steve Spurrier offense.
Still, try listening to this piercing noise a couple hundred times and see how much of an annoyance it becomes. Knowing a missed assignment may mean hearing it on Saturday while the South Carolina faithful cheer, could be a reminder enough. However, just familiarizing with some of the sounds they’ll hear is what senior defensive lineman Jordan Williams says is the benefit of all of this.
“If we hear it all day in practice, when we’re running around having fun,” Williams said. “Then, we’re at home when we get there. They’re playing their music…they’re playing it for us.”
Creating a realistic simulation of a game day environment on the road in the SEC where 85,000 people will be standing and cheering, is not easy. Yet, hearing an irritating squawking sound once in Williams-Brice Stadium might be one too many times for the Volunteer players after this week of practice.