Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Importance of Confidence, or the Lack of Knowing You're Mediocre

When division I-A college football gets started Thursday night, most fans will be watching the nationally televised game between NC State and South Carolina. SEC fans, and particularly Dawg fans, will take an interest in this, if for no other reason than to gauge a future opponent.

For the most part, since South Carolina football saw a resurgence (or "surgence" as the case may be) during the end of the 20th century, the Gamecocks have played well to start the season. Additionally, they've given Georgia fits, even managing to steal a few wins here and there. However, they've almost always finished their seasons with the ineptitude usually associated with South Carolina football (see This is South Carolina Football). When Darth Visor took over, you know the whole Gator nation would have been in heaven if Florida went undefeated every year, and South Cackalackee lost but one game every Florida. Those of us not decked in jorts knew better.

One could argue that part of the reason is that, while South Carolina's front-line talent is comparable to the talent of the SEC big boys, they simply don't have the depth to compete on a high level as the season wears on. It could also be argued that their talent is marginal to the point where it's good enough to present a problem up until offensive and/or defensive coordinators have had a few games' worth of film to divine holes and weaknesses.

While both are valid, I really believe that the Cocks simply haven't figured out that they're just not that good by the second game of the season.

When the late, great Jack Palance was hawking stinky aftershave, he coined the phrase, "Confidence is very sexy. Don't you think?" Why, yes Jack, it is. It's also incredibly important for an individual in a contest or competition. If you've ever played any sport, or golf, you know that you fared far better when you pretty much knew you could hit a pitcher's fastball, or take a guy off a dribble. It didn't really matter if it was the truth; you were going to perform at or near your potential.

Mark Richt often spoke of how Georgia needed to "knock the lid off" the program, a feat more or less accomplished when Greene found Haynes on the famous Hobnail, P-44, awesome. What was he really talking about? He was talking about everybody involved with the program really, truly believing that you can accomplish great things, even when the situation is ostensibly dire. They were not going to mutter, "Here we go again" when things went south.

South Carolina is, record-wise, about where Georgia was mired during the mid-late 90's. They beat most of the teams you'd expect them to beat, and maybe even jump up and bite somebody on the keister here and there. But, as each season moves along, and they inevitably lose two in a row, or maybe three out of four, they return to that mindset of, "Hey, we just can't hang with these guys."

Save 2007, and maybe 2002, the Dawgs haven't simply improved so vastly (in comparison to the improvement made by most good teams during the year) as the season moves along. But, something tells me that if an 8-2 Georgia team played a 7-3 South Carolina team in November, the Dawgs would own that Cock. Not because of personnel or coaching, but because South Carolina would have begun to realize that they are once again playing 3rd trombone in the SEC orchestra.

So, while I personally expect South Carolina to beat the Wolfpack on Thursday night, Dawg fans should hope they lose, so they'll arrive a few weeks ahead of schedule at that place where they always end up. Better than bad, but not so good.

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtfull post on confidence .It should be very much helpfull

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