COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been forced to dramtically adjust his goals, now which include including simply finishing the season with a winning record.
Many expected the Gamecocks would have just about wrapped that accomplishment up by now after they were picked this summer to win the Southeastern Conference's East Division .
Instead, South Carolina (3-3) hopes to end a two-game losing streak when it faces Furman (2-4) at home Saturday.
Spurrier and the Gamecocks have downgraded goals heading into the final half of the year after fourth-quarter collapses against Missouri and Kentucky.
The coach there have been dropped passes, missed tackles and even a few botched play calls down the stretch, all which led to South Carolina blowing a 13-point lead in the final seven minutes to lose to the Tigers 21-20 on Sept. 27. A week later the Gamecocks had a 14-point lead in the last 11 minutes against Kentucky but lost 45-38 to the Wildcats.
"You can't get them back, you try to learn from them and move on, and that's where we are," Spurrier said. "We got a lot of ball left, a lot of big games, hopefully, coming up, and let's see if we can have us a winning season. "
There'll be a few different wrinkles as South Carolina tries to find its footing.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will coach from the press box instead of the sidelines, hoping to better identify problems in the defense that Missouri and Kentucky exploited in their comebacks. Freshman Chris Lammons will likely start at cornerback.
Spurrier watched South Carolina's players work hard through a bye week and re-dedicate themselves into turning the year around.
The Paladins are also struggling after winning a share of the Southern Conference championship and reaching the NCAA FCS playoffs last year.
Furman is receiving $250,000 for playing South Carolina.
Paladins' coach Bruce Fowler sees a strong, talented South Carolina team, not one unable to win.
"It's consistent over many years now with coach Spurrier and that staff," he said. "They're a team that's very confident and they know how to win."
Things to watch when South Carolina plays Furman:
ANOTHER QB? South Carolina might finally get to use a backup quarterback if it can find an offensive rhythm against Furman. Senior Dylan Thompson has taken all snaps as quarterback, although the Gamecocks have used receiver Pharoh Cooper in a wildcat formation at times. Spurrier said he might give backups Connor Mitch and Perry Orth opportunities to show what they can do.
FURMAN'S PAST SUCCESS: The Paladins beat South Carolina in 1982, 28-23, starting a run of small-school success against schools in the Power Five conferences. Furman went 4-1-1- against such opponents from 1982-86 and won a FCS national championship in 1988. Furman's current coach Bruce Fowler, a former Paladin, was on the field for that win over the Gamecocks, although he was on the staff of coach Bobby Johnson at Vanderbilt when the unranked and lightly regarded Commodores came into a similar noon start in 2007 and thumped the sixth-ranked, 6-1 Gamecocks, 17-6.
FINDING THE RUN: Mike Davis is ready to continue a stellar season — as long as he gets the ball. He had 183 yards and three TDs in the Kentucky loss, yet was not much of a factor in South Carolina's final three possessions. Davis said he's had a lingering ankle injury from last year that limited him at times, but he believes he's healthy and prepared to finish the season strong.
WATCHING UP HIGH: While coordinator Lorenzo Ward hopes to get a better view of his defense's lapses from atop the stadium, Spurrier wasn't a fan when he tried it as Duke's offensive coordinator in the early 1980s. Spurrier thought it better to talk with players directly on the sidelines than through phones and headsets. Plus, his time in the pros as a backup made him well aware of how to breakdown games at field level.
SPURRIER SUCCESS: Despite South Carolina's past, coach Steve Spurrier does not lose to teams outside former BCS qualifying conference or the Power Five leagues. The Gamecocks' 10th-year coach is 50-0 all time in such games, including all 23 so far at South Carolina.