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The Persistence of Memory, by Will Muschamp and Mike Bobo

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Time is a limited resource. Now watch South Carolina turn the spigot on and walk away.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports. Banner Society Illustration.

Time is the universal limiting factor in life. No matter your wealth or station, you have only so many days and hours to pass on this planet, and nobody knows what that number is.

Time is also the limiting factor in football, though sport is much kinder than life, helpfully telling you how much remains at regular intervals and giving you multiple opportunities to freeze that time.

If you’re wondering why I’m talking about the eventuality of death and clock management, well, Will Muschamp lost another football game.

More specifically, with 8:11 to play, Muschamp’s Gamecocks had the ball and were down by 14. Seven minutes and 23 seconds of game clock later, South Carolina turned the ball over on downs.

That South Carolina faced an uphill battle to win or tie the game is immaterial; they spent so much time getting dressed and adjusting their climbing gear that they barely started up the damn hill.

I rewatched the entire drive and made a note of how much time ran off the clock between the end of one play and the start of the next:

South Carolina’s Final Drive against Florida

Play Previous Whistle Clock at Snap Time Farted Away
Play Previous Whistle Clock at Snap Time Farted Away
1 8:11 8:11 N/A
2 8:06 7:38 28 seconds
3 7:33 7:33 N/A
4 7:25 7:04 21 seconds
5 6:58 6:24 34 seconds
6 6:18 6:02 16 seconds
7 5:57 5:19 38 seconds
8 5:12 4:50 22 seconds
9 4:41 4:11 30 seconds
10 4:05 3:53 12 seconds
11 3:46 3:23 23 seconds
12 3:16 2:39 37 seconds
13 2:35 1:55 40 seconds
14 1:50 1:37 23 seconds
15 1:26 1:09 17 seconds
16 1:04 1:04 N/A
17 1:00 1:00 N/A
18 0:55 0:55 N/A

Add all that time up and you get five minutes and 41 seconds of wasted resources. Now, South Carolina certainly couldn’t have recaptured all of that time by hurrying up, but what percentage would be fairly attributable here to poor clock management? 50 percent? That’s 2:50 the Gamecocks just let slip away. One third? A minute and 53 seconds.

Again: There was no mystery as to what South Carolina needed to do. One touchdown drive wasn’t going to close the gap, or significantly change what Florida did if they got the ball back. It would be one thing if Muschamp had eschewed urgency early in the drive and then tried to speed the offense up. But look at that list! Twelve plays into the drive, having already pissed away five minutes of clock, South Carolina’s still letting 37 and 40 seconds run before snapping the ball. Frostbite is killing Muschamp’s fingers and he’s insisting, “I’m fine, I don’t need a jacket or a hat, leave me alone.”

Was this predictable, perhaps thanks to a quote from South Carolina’s new offensive coordinator before the start of the season that now looks like a grim vision of the future?

There’s more. South Carolina had two timeouts at the start of this fateful drive.

Guess how many they had at the end of it?

THAT’S RIGHT! FLORIDA, THE TEAM HAPPY TO WATCH THE SECONDS TICK AWAY, USED TWO TIMEOUTS ON THIS DRIVE WHILE SOUTH CAROLINA, THE TEAM OSTENSIBLY TRYING TO COME BACK AND WIN ON THE ROAD, USED NONE OF THEM.

Don’t worry, though. Muschamp didn’t let those timeouts go unspent. He used them after Florida kneeled twice on the next possession. Checkmate, Gators.

[swallows both rooks whole]