As any red-blooded South Carolina football fan can tell you, Saturday's loss at LSU was extremely disappointing. After a week of praise and media uplifting, the Gamecocks looked poised to do some impressive things.
In deafening Death Valley (which is a way more intimidating place to play than Clemson, Dabo), the Gamecocks faltered.
They still belong in the discussion for best team in the nation.
They did things that good teams do, even in a loss. They fought hard to the very end. Connor Shaw ran around yelling commands to the offense, who did a (mostly) good job adjusting. They adjusted their game plan during the course of the game and found success. They fought and scrapped the entire game.
There were definitely some bad things. The defense just completely disappeared against the run. The offensive line regressed. Marcus Lattimore couldn't find running room. The Gamecocks apparently have no kicking game to speak of. Shaw's horrible interception was possibly the worst of his career.
However, you can't say the Gamecocks didn't play hard.
The truth is, the Gamecocks got beaten by a desperate top-10 team at their place. They took LSU's best shot and countered with a subpar effort, and still only lost by two points. Keep in mind, LSU was favored and had to win. They are still coached by Les Miles.
The game at Florida is still very much a winnable one for the Gamecocks. If they improve on some things in practice and come out aggressively, they can definitely beat the Gators. If they come out and play flat, they will lose.
That's the price you pay of playing in the SEC. However, South Carolina has come to a point where they can beat every team on their schedule. All they need is a chance.
This team has come a long, long way. They continue to grow and will learn from this bad game. Remember, Alabama lost to LSU on the way to a championship. LSU was 11-2 the year they won the national championship.
Beat Florida, and the season is right back on track. This team is talented. In previous years, the Gamecocks would have been destroyed in Baton Rouge. No one can sleep on the Gamecocks anymore, even in a loss.