This time, the Gamecocks head coach was the one being surprised.
“Red Out” is supposed to be the theme of next week’s home game against Murray State, but the Gamecocks broke out the red britches for only the fourth time in Crowe’s tenure Saturday.
They are now 3-1 in the pants, having beaten Eastern Illinois here twice in them and UT-Martin in a 2009 home game. The loss came at Eastern Kentucky two weeks after they broke them out for the first time.
“I was surprised when I saw them,” Crowe said. “The seniors have a direct connection with the equipment room, I guess, and they go in there and pick what they want to wear. I knew it when I got here.
“I think sometimes the seniors think that if they’re winning, they can get what they want. As long as they keep winning, they can wear any color they want to.”
Jamal Young wasn’t here when they broke out the red pants the first time, but he has worn them before. He said he likes them.
Brooks Robinson, the safety whose interception sealed Saturday’s victory, likes them, too.
“They’re easier to get on than our other ones,” he said.
• NEXT UP, MURRAY: The Gamecocks will face their fifth straight opponent with a non-winning record — and perhaps their fourth winless team in five games — Saturday when Murray State comes to Burgess-Snow Field.
The Racers went into their game Saturday with UT Martin 0-3, but head coach Chris Hatcher went into the game still confident in what’s trying to get done.
“We think we can be a dangerous team, but we’ve got to get over the hump to make some plays,” Chris Hatcher said. “We know our system works and we know it’ll work here. When, we don’t know, but we’ve gotta keep believing what we’re doing. When it does turn, it’ll be more rewarding for our team.”
The Gamecocks’ first four opponents have been a combined 1-5 at the time of their games. Only Georgia State (1-1) has had a win, and that was against a non-Division I team.
UT Martin will become JSU’s sixth straight opponent with a non-winning record when those teams meet Oct. 9.
Interestingly, Murray went into its game Saturday tied for the national lead in tackles for loss, but last in the OVC in rushing defense.
Saturday’s game will be the Gamecocks’ second in their expanded stadium. JSU officials said they sold more than 22,000 tickets for the home opener. Indeed, a lot of people braved the rain to be there for that one, but it will be interesting to see how many will return for the second game against a team the faithful has no real connection to.
Hatcher, for one, has an idea what to expect.
“I played there as a player in the 90s,” he said. “I know how good a team they’ve gone and how touch a place it is to play in.”
• GOING THE DISTANCE: When is it ever proper to start talking about running the table?
Players are constantly get preached about taking games one at a time, but after starting the season 4-0, winning the way it has and now beating one of its toughest draws at the start of league play, who could blame Jacksonville State from thinking about going 11-0.
“That’s what we want to do ultimately,” quarterback Marques Ivory said earlier in the week. “Nobody sees us as wanting to lose. Yes, we want to be 11-0 at the end of the regular season, (but) we’re taking every game one at a time.”
The Gamecocks have beaten Ole Miss, Chattanooga, upstart Georgia State and now Eastern Illinois. Given the way the OVC has started, their next big test might not come until Southeast Missouri in the next to last game of the season.
Before that, the Gamecocks have road games at UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky.
“We’re not going to take anybody light,” receiver James Shaw said. “That’s not what the coaches coach us to do, but I feel if we go out and play every game, I feel like we’ve got a chance to go all the way this year. We’ve got expectations and goals.”
•END OF STORY: The Counterfeit Coty saga seems to have faded into the sidelights of the season without further incident, but the entire episode has JSU officials promising to be more vigilant regarding unlicensed merchandise.
In the aftermath of cease-and-desist orders related to the appearance of Coty Blanchard action figures, eBay immediately pulled the figures from its online auction and sales, and a representative of distributor AJ’s Custom Sports Picks told JSU investigators he was only putting the figures out there as a hobby and would stop.
While the assumption is many 18-year-old athletes might be flattered by the attention of an action figure, Blanchard hasn’t said a whole lot about it and tried to downplay it when asked after last week’s win at Georgia State.
“My dad has seen it and everything, (but) I really don’t want to say anything about it, really,” he said. “It’s all good, but I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.”
There is a follow-up to the story. The latest trademark infringement has made JSU marketing officials more watchful of the makers and sellers of unlicensed commemorative Jacksonville State t-shirts.
— Al Muskewitz