COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina went six weeks between road games earlier this season, but with a shorter gap between road trips this time, the Gamecocks are hoping recent lessons can pay off Saturday.
The Gamecocks traveled down to Florida two weeks ago, where road issues that plagued the team through the season’s first month showed up again. The game did not go well for South Carolina that day, but what went wrong in a hostile road environment has stuck with the players as they prepare for Clemson (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
“It was a blessing in disguise just going down there and playing a dynamic Gator team in The Swamp in a dynamic environment, bringing that experience to our team,” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “Clemson is going to be the same type of atmosphere.”
The road has not been friendly to South Carolina this season to say the least. The Gamecocks are 1-3 away from Williams-Brice Stadium and have scored 11.0 points per game in those four games.
At Florida, the Gamecocks struggled to get anything going early because of drops offensively and poor tackling defensively. Those issues had not been seen as much since South Carolina’s previous road games, all three of which came in the September.
Senior safety Chris Moody said the Gamecocks have to “come out and play fast” against Clemson.
“We came out really sluggish against Florida,” Moody said. “We haven’t played well on the road this year. We’ve gotta come out, play fast, play our style of defense and let the rest take care of itself.”
South Carolina has had more second-half success this season on the road, scoring 37 of its 44 points in road games after halftime. But in each game, the Gamecocks already put themselves behind and have struggled to come back in any game except for their season-opener at Vanderbilt.
Allen-Williams said the key lesson he took from Florida was the Gamecocks have to understand that there will be ups and downs anytime they play in a difficult road environment, let alone against a top team. He said if the Gamecocks can limit turnovers and mistakes, they can have a good game against the Tigers with the lessons they can take from playing at Florida two weeks ago.
“Just to have that type of experience, playing on the road and playing against a good team, it gave us a lot of confidence going up there this weekend because we have already been there,” Allen-Williams said. “And we don’t have anything to lose.”