One of the more controversial parts of Muschamp’s comments was his assessment of the Gamecocks’ offense, specifically their tendency to get bogged down on third down.
“There were times where we played ourselves out of things,” Muschamp said. “The first half really hurt us. We had some really poor third down decisions and they were there for us a number of times. Some of it was a lack of confidence in our execution. They were able to get a couple big plays here and there. We got them going in that third down department. It’s going to be a challenge to get some results there in the season finale against Clemson.”
In a week in which the Gamecocks lost quarterback Connor Shaw , the nation’s top overall recruit, to a knee injury, Muschamp said he didn’t believe his teams would lose their poise on third down in the ACC. With Clemson (6-0) poised to secure a return trip to Atlanta for the ACC Championship Game, Muschamp said that his team wasn’t taking the bye week as an option and that they would simply adjust to the situation going forward.
“That’s all speculation at this point because all I know at this point is we’re going to play every game like it’s a national championship in my mind,” he said. “We’re going to be all about that. And we’re going to be all about trying to score every single point we have left. Every time we get the game in a different state of mind, that’s going to pay dividends when we get there.”
Muschamp was also unable to pinpoint exactly what had sent his team into a tailspin on third down.
“All the pieces were there and it was just a couple of things that we didn’t do well enough,” he said.
The Gamecocks converted just 5-of-27 third downs and only had five takeaways during their three-overtime loss. The loss dropped their overall record to 2-2 and kept them tied with Clemson for the Big South Conference lead.