COLUMBIA — Will Muschamp was wet, mad, frustrated and exhausted. It was bad enough that South Carolina played nearly well enough to win Saturday against No. 9 Florida, but when the Gamecocks lost by 11 points and 14 were aided by no-calls from the officiating crew, the 38-27 defeat was hard for the coach to stomach.
Yet there wasn’t much he could do. Complain about the officiating and get fined. Send all the letters, tapes, Tweets and replays to the league office you want, but it’s not going to change that human officials make human mistakes.
Muschamp did what he could. He stood up for his team, haranguing one official so much that he was slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. And while he stopped short of saying this no-call was garbage and that no-call was pitiful, Coach Boom just had to show as much of himself as possible.
“The guy ran 40 yards away and dropped a flag,” Muschamp said, admitting he said something after the last should-have-been-nullified Florida touchdown but declining to say what. “I’d rather him drop it on my feet. Drop it on my feet next time. Don’t go 40 yards away and drop the flag, how about that?”
Pretty tame. But he wasn’t done.
“Gutless,” he muttered as the room waited for another question.
Who knows if the SEC will deem that enough for a fine, but the money is a moot point. The Gamecocks did appear to get jobbed on two plays that could have swung the game.
The first play came immediately after USC took a 17-10 lead in the third quarter. Florida’s Dameon Pierce broke through the line and sprinted 75 yards for the tying touchdown. But before the snap, Florida offensive tackle Jean Delance moved, which should have negated the play completely.
Also on the play, as Pierce reached the secondary, USC cornerback Israel Mukuamu had his jersey held from behind by Florida receiver Tyrie Cleveland for the last 35 yards.
“We can only control what we can control,” Mukuamu said. “We can’t really speak on the officials and what they were doing.”
The second controversial play came on Florida's game-clinching touchdown as Florida quarterback Kyle Trask hit Kyle Pitts on a curl route. Pitts was uncovered on the play after Florida receiver Josh Hammond blocked USC safety R.J. Roderick, a “pick play” that is illegal when a receiver doesn’t attempt to run a route and begins blocking.
Muschamp didn't comment on the play, but did talk about how much it takes out of a team when circumstances out of their control end up costing them points and possibly the game.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard,” he said. “But we’re going to fight through it, that’s what we are here at South Carolina. We’re going to fight through what we got to do.”