COLUMBIA, S.C. — After beating the number three team in the nation as an over 20 point underdog, South Carolina Head Coach Will Muschamp had a lot to be happy for Saturday afternoon.
"Our guys are going to be fighting their a-- off,: he said to the sideline reporter as he left the field following his team's 20-17 double overtime win over Georgia. "It's a hell of a day to be a Gamecock, isn't it awesome?"
Back inside Sanford Stadium a short time later with a group of reporters around him, Muschamp was reflective about what his team achieved.
"You show a lot of mettle, a lot of toughness, you talk in terms of the character of the program, the culture the program, the leadership of the program and the character of the young men in that locker room," he said. "We've been through a lot this year, we've been very inconsistent to this point and the bottom line is we did what we had to do to win the ballgame."
Freshman quaterback Ryan Hilinski started the game, but backup Dakereon Joyner had to be pressed into duty when Hilinski got banged up. Muschamp called Joyner's performance "gutsy as hell."
"It's hard. You don't rep as much as the backup quarterback. You don't get as many turns and reps. I thought Dakereon just came in and fought his butt off and we're so proud of him."
As for Hilinski, Muschamp said he doesn't believe his player's injury is serious. He said the coaching staff just decided Hilinski wasn't moving well enough to protect himself.
"I'm really happy for our players. I'm happy for a staff that works its a-- off. I'm happy for our fan base so they can enjoy the week and that's really what it's all about for me, but it's never about me."
He said for those surprised by the win (USC was 2-3 on the season going in) he said his players and coaches weren't as shocked.
"Sometimes the results don't always equal where you are. I always try to tell the players it's not always about the distance, it's about the direction where you're headed. And I always felt like we were headed in the right path, I always felt we had the right people in the building to be successful. And it's been frustrating. It really has. And it hurts this staff that works extremely hard and these young men extremely hard and I hate it for our fan base."
"But today was a good win for us. We got to build off it. How are we going to handle this? That's going to be a question I have for our football team moving forward. We need to handle this the right way and understand our preparation that helped us win this ball game and how we practices and how we go about our business. That's how you win games. That's how you prepare. And that's what we've got to continue to do."
"Our kids fought their a-- off. You can't question that as far as our football team is concerned about how hard they play. We need to be a little more consistent and figure out some things moving forward. But we're going to enjoy tonight and start getting ready for Florida tomorrow."