Florida 35, South Carolina 31
Gainesville, FL –For the second time this season, the Gators overcame a three score deficit on their way to victory. QB Jake Bentley and the Gamecocks offense got off to a fast start, scoring on each of their first two possessions and putting the Gators in an early hole.
Not to take anything away from South Carolina’s performance but Florida’s defense showed all of the same symptoms that have plagued them over the last three games. A.J. Turner burned through the defense in large chunks throughout the first two and a half quarters and Deebo Samuel was able to flip the field from endzone to endzone as well.
Give credit where it is due though, as the Gamecocks tempo really disrupted Florida’s blitz heavy attack. With the offense being set and snapping the ball before the defensive leaders could communicate their exotic pressures, the Gators played on their heels for a good portion of the game.
In keeping with recent themes, Florida’s special teams had their struggles today as well. A unit that was so crucial to much of Florida’s success this season, saw a muffed punt result in a turnover and just the second missed field goal of Evan McPherson‘s freshman campaign.
Despite the early struggles, Florida showed something that has been missing since the fourth quarter of the Georgia game. They showed a competitive spirit and a willingness to fight. You could see the fire burning as they erased a 14 point deficit.
The Gamecocks attempted to quench that fire as they reeled off 17 consecutive points to take a 31-14 lead midway through the third quarter. But it appears that Dan Mullen‘s competitive fire is beginning to ignite his team.
Feleipe Franks showed more toughness and physicality than I have ever seen from him as he fought through tackles to get first down yardage again and again. The same was true for each of Florida’s running backs who combined for 367 rushing yards.
As the offense pressed on, things began to turn in Florida’s favor. The defense began to click and had success in shutting down everything South Carolina tried to do from midway through the third quarter on. So too, did the special teams, pinning the Cocks deep on more than one occasion.
Even the macabre events of one particular play all just seemed to work out for the Gators. A high snap sailed over Franks head as defenders were bearing down on him. He turned to recover the loose ball and it bounced off of the turf and into his hands while he was in stride.
Franks turned his eyes upfield looking for a receiver. After finding his target, he fired the ball near the first down marker only to see it skip off of the receiver’s hands and into the waiting arms of Joshua Hammond – who was a little further down field – for a first down.
When this team exerts their will, it is nearly impossible to stop them. Just ask LSU or Mississippi State. It is this relentless effort, this competitive fire that has been so greatly missed for the past few weeks.
There is still plenty that can be critiqued about today’s performance and you can rest assured that Mullen and his staff are hard at work doing just that. But there are some positive takeaways from not just this game, but this entire season. Florida is finally on the right track and under the right leadership.
For this week, we can rest easier knowing that in all kinds of weather, it is great to be a Florida Gator.
Franks: 15/21, 161 YDS 1 TD
Bentley: 18/28, 239 YDS 2 TD 1 INT
Scarlett: 18 CAR, 159 YDS
Perine: 16 CAR, 107 YDS 2 TD
Franks: 16 CAR, 36 YDS 2 TD
A.J. Turner: 12 CAR, 81 YDS
M. Denson: 14 CAR, 49 YDS
J. Hammond: 5 REC, 35 YDS
K. Toney: 2 REC, 33 YDS 1 TD
D. Samuel: 4 REC, 120 YDS
K. Markway: 1 REC, 19 YDS 1 TD
J. August: 2 REC, 14 YDS 1 TD
South Carolina: 18
South Carolina: 64
Time of Possession
South Carolina: 24:20
South Carolina: 239
South Carolina: 147
South Carolina: 7-41
South Carolina: 386
South Carolina: 1
SEC East Standings
Georgia 6-1 8-1
Kentucky 5-2 7-2
Florida 5-3 7-3
South Carolina 3-4 4-4
Tennessee 1-3 4-4
Vandy 1-5 4-6
Mizzou 2-4 6-4
*Some games may still be in progress
What’s next? Senior day will see Florida host the Idaho Vandals. Broadcast information will be shared as it becomes available.