What an impressive showing!

          As the scoreboard read 19-3 in the second half of the Outback Bowl against the Wolverines of Michigan, I started to think that this would be the second straight bowl loss for the Gamecocks of South Carolina. Then Jake Bentley relaxed, and the defense rose to the challenge to get this team back into the game.

          In the first half of the game, it seemed that no one wanted to find the end zone, going into half Michigan was leading 9-3 and the Gamecocks had given up two turnovers, which led to 6 points.  On Michigan’s first drive of the second half, thecoach boom Wolverines drove down the field and got into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. Toward the end of the third quarter, something just clicked on both sides of the ball. In the second half, the defense came alive in a big way to force an Outback Bowl tying record 5 turnovers. Yes, the Gamecocks defense forced 5 second-half turnovers.

          After Michigan got out to the 19-3 lead in the second half, every unit for the Gamecocks finally woke up. Through most of the game, Jake Bentley, the QB for the Gamecocks, was only completing half of his passes and had an interception. Then once the defense got going, the energy that they had transferred to the young QB and the offense and woke them up like someone having their coffee in the morning.

           Once the offense woke up, Bentley would go 8/10 and 2 touchdowns following jake bentleythe 11/22 and 1 interception start and lead the team to a 26-19 win over the Michigan Wolverines. That overall would be impressive for him as a young QB, who should be a freshman right now. As the third and fourth quarters progressed, you could tell that this young man was starting to relax and lock in on his targets.

           Another interesting fact of the game was that the Gamecocks made an offensive coordinator change at the beginning of December when Will Muschamp let Kurt Roper go and allowed Bryan McClendon, the widemcclendon receiver coach and shared the OC position with Roper, to play the calls and “audition” for the full-time coordinator position. If the second half of the game indicates anything, then it points to momentum going into the offseason and the next season, it also indicates that McClendon could be the favorite to land the full-time position.

            Right now, the future looks bright for this young program. According to ESPN, 70% of this program is made up of freshmen and sophomores. Fans should be excited about this team that has come so far since only winning 3 games two years ago.

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Having different expectations with certain coaches before they start is not always the good way to go.

            At the end of this past college football season, an unbelievable amount of head coaching jobs opened up. During this past season 10 head coaching jobs opened up, then during the offseason 18 more opened up due to coaches getting jobs elsewhere. One of the most notable openings was at South Carolina when Steve Spurrier stepped down mid-season and replaced with Shawn Elliot. During the off-season, the Gamecocks hired former UF head coach Will Muschamp. When this was announced many people, including me at first, saw this as a horrible hiring and were mad that the Gamecocks missed out on the likes of Kirby Smart, who went to UGA, and Tom Herman, the head man of the Houston Cougars.

         footballThe biggest reason for the outrage towards the hire was that Muschamp’s tenure at Florida did not go as a lot of people would have wanted it to. His numbers at Florida did not indicate he would get another crack at a head coaching job after one year of being a defensive coordinator, especially in the SEC. Muschamp was the head man at Florida from 2011-14, after being the DC and possible replacement of the great Mack Brown at Texas. He went 28-21 while at Florida. I can understand why people do not think he is a good coach, but what people do not seem to take into consideration is that he was coming into a job with HUGE expectations.

            He had to follow in the footsteps of Urban Meyer, the Gators second best coach behind, ironically, Steve Spurrier. People are too quick to judge a coach. One of the greatest football coaches this generation has ever seen, Nick Saban, had his struggles early on in his career. After coach Saban left Toledo after one year, he went to Michigan St. While the coach of the Spartans, coach Saban collected a record of 34-24-1 over 5 years before going to coach LSU. Nick Saban’s winning percentage at Michigan St is barely better than that of Muschamp’s winning percentage at Florida. Mack Brown is a sure thing hall of fame coach for college football, but his first few years did not go to well. Coach Brown got his first head coaching job at Tulane. His record during his tenure there would be 11-23. That is a winning percentage of .324. After his tenure at Tulane, he would go on to find some success leading the UNC Tar heels program, before landing at UT and leading that program to monumental success with a national title in 2005 and another trip to the title game in ’09.

        clipboardWhat I am saying is that you can not judge a book by its cover. Another great example of that in another sport would be the Boston Celtics taking a risk and hiring Brad Stevens away from his successful coaching career at Butler. Many thought this could be disastrous because college coaches have not really found success in the pros, but coach Stevens is slowly proving that wrong in only his third year at the head. Many are already saying he is one of the future coaching greats. Coach Stevens NBA career started rocky going 25-57 his first year, but he has improved his record last year and this year, going 40-42 and 48-34 respectively, with two playoff appearances. Coaches, no matter the league or sport, learn from their mistakes or learn to adapt to new leagues.