It's a 10-week gauntlet.

The SEC schedule begins Friday with 20th-ranked USC hosting number 15 Georgia.

Year one for Mark Kingston started off 1-5 in conference play before Carolina flipped a switch and went 16-8 in the final eight weeks of the regular season.

“You have to try to keep an even keel about it,” Kingston said. 

“To me, the SEC is much like the big leagues, you are not going to go undefeated. There are going to be days when you play really well and the other team plays just as well and might win a game against you. You have to be very intense. 

“It’s a heightened awareness in terms of what it takes to win, but you need to understand there are going to be some bumps in the road. That’s part of playing in such a great conference. Everybody is good, so you have to handle the downs, you have to handle the ups and make sure you keep a good even-keel. You focus on what wins games and make sure you don’t overreact or panic if you go into a little bit of a lull because you are playing such great competition.”

Keeping an even keel was critical for a team that could have bailed on their first year coach. Instead, everyone stayed with it and eventually, plays started being made at critical times. 

But if Carolina were to start the league schedule 5-1 instead of 1-5, Kingston will still preach the mindset of not getting too high or too low.