It's easy to keep going when things are going good. The tough thing is to reach down and carry on when a result was something less than good.
There was no bigger stinker than the 51-21 egg Jacksonville State laid in its Ohio Valley Conference opener at Eastern Kentucky Saturday night.
EKU hung 50 on the Gamecocks for the second year in a row. The Colonels rushed for 327 yards in a 558-yard offensive performance. They held the Gamecocks to 112 yards rushing and forced them into four turnovers.
“We got out-competed,” JSU coach Jack Crowe said. “I hope we haven’t gone backward as a football program.”
It was a night truly worth forgetting, and that's what the Gamecocks (1-2) said they planned to do as soon as they got on the bus.
“It’s not a step back at all; we just have to make progress from here,” sophomore safety Pierre Warren said after the game. “It starts (Sunday morning) – meetings, workouts. Basically it’ll be over when we leave here.”
Crowe has no problem leaving the game in the rearview mirror, but he said it was important the players didn’t overanalyze their circumstance and forget what made them successful in the first place.
“Give it a little thought and believe in who you represent,” he said. “If you really believe that’s who you are to begin with you go to the next (game) feeling the challenge of it but not truly questioning yourself.
“If you are who you think you are, who you say you are, you trust. If you do everything you’re supposed to do the result will be there.”
The last time the Gamecocks started 1-2 was 2009. That year the losses came to Georgia Tech and Florida State. They wound up posting the best record within the OVC, although they weren’t eligible for the conference crown because of their APR situation.
The last time the Gamecocks lost their conference opener — in 2007 — they finished 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the OVC. Crowe said that team had “hardly any effective leadership,” and that, he insisted, is not an issue with his current squad.
Which team will this one become — the 2007 or the 2009 version — only time will tell.
“We’re going to be considerably affected by last week, but not to the point of changing what we are and what we ought to be doing,” Crowe said. “I still think we can run the ball effectively, stop the run, throw the ball. I think we can play good pass defense.
“We just got out-competed (Saturday) and that’s a state of mind. Any one game doesn’t define you, but you’d better not think it doesn’t mean something.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @JSUSports_Star.