South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer, Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman and both schools’ team captains took part in press conferences, Thursday, at TIAA Bank Field, the site of Friday’s Gator Bowl.
Beamer extolled the virtues of the bowl system and why it’s so important to his team, “I’m a bowl guy. I love bowl games and what they mean to college football …. The fact that we were 1-2 at one point and I was getting questions on if this team had given up and quit, and since that point, we’re 7-2 and they’ve earned the right to be here with the way they’ve played. We’re here to win a football game but we want them to have some fun and have a chance to finish the season the right way.”
This bowl season has been marked by opt-outs and news of the transfer portal, but the Gamecocks are zeroed in on the Irish. USC quarterback Spencer Rattler deflected questions about his future, instead keeping the spotlight on the game, “Our focus is what we can do to help this team tomorrow. All of us are going to sharpen it up today and roll into tomorrow confident and ready to go …. the last thing I want to do is talk about my decision. We’re focused on the game tomorrow, the task at hand.”
When pressed on why he chose to play in the Gator Bowl when so many others have turned their attention to the NFL or other opportunities, Rattler said, “It’s the right thing to do. You’ve put in all this work throughout the season. This is family. These are my brothers. Playing for Coach Beamer, we want to finish this thing out right for this season, with this team.”
The Gamecocks have exuded confidence throughout the week in Jacksonville, but are there enough playmakers left on the roster to knock off Notre Dame? Dakereon Joyner, the MVP of last season’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, responded with an echo of Kai Kroeger’s rallying cry, “All we got is all we need.”
South Carolina and Notre Dame will collide in the Gator Bowl from TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Friday at 3:30 p.m.