They say all good things must come to an end.
There is no better example of that saying than the final score of Saturday’s Palmetto Bowl: That Team From the Upstate 35, South Carolina Gamecocks 17.
The loss at Memorial Stadium closed what has been nothing short of a disappointing regular season for Carolina, who many picked to win the SEC East in the preseason. Instead, they limp into bowl season at 6-6 with more questions than answers.
But despite all the shortcomings this season may have provided, the future is still very bright for Carolina, and it’s highlighted at the skill positions. Though valuable starters like Dylan Thompson and Mike Davis will be moving on, young players are ready to step up and take on a bigger role with the team.
Sophomore Pharoh Cooper finished the regular season with 1,242 all-purpose yards and twelve total touchdowns, and looks to build upon his successful season in 2015. Redshirt freshman David Williams impressed when he had consistent touches, and Connor Mitch and Perry Orth appear ready to take the reigns at quarterback moving forward.
Combined with the talent already on the team, Carolina also boasts a recruiting class currently ranked eighth by ESPN, with 27 commits.
Head coach Steve Spurrier continues to recruit well from South Carolina and Georgia, with the highlight commit being Arden Key, a four-star defensive end from Lithonia, Georgia.
On top of all that, if you take a closer look, the season could have looked very differently if the ball had bounced a different way. Of Carolina’s six losses, four of them were by seven or less points. Three of those losses were games in which the Gamecocks led in the fourth quarter, as well as a tie game entering the fourth against Auburn.
I’m not usually one to kick the tires, but a quick inspection of those games tells you that Carolina’s record doesn’t necessarily indicate their level of talent. There were some unlucky breaks that drastically changed the outlook of the season.
Sometimes you need to be knocked down to remind yourself what it takes to stay on your feet. After three straight 11-2 seasons you can tend to forget what adversity feels like.
Well, here’s your adversity. It can serve as the beginning of a regression, or it can serve as a wake-up call. With the talent I see on this roster, and the recruiting class coming in for 2015, I feel extremely confident in the latter.
The season begins in 275 days, at Bank of America Stadium. It’s way to early to predict how that season will go, but I’m confident this past season will be nothing more than a blip on the radar as the program continues to improve.