Well, another disappointing day for the Florida Gators. Once again absolutely whipped on the road by a team struggling on offense all year. It’s another bad loss in a now recent string of them for the Dan Mullen regime dating back to 2020. Here’s my evaluation of how the Gators played on against the Gamecocks.
You know, the offense looked pretty good toward the beginning of the game. Emory Jones was efficient to start and even hit some deep shots as it looked the Gators would have to keep pace in a shootout. Then Florida went punt, punt and scoop-and-score to end the first half as the Gamecocks had a 30-10 lead. Then the offense came out of the half and punted and gave it up on downs the first two possessions. They did score the next drive followed by an awful interception by Jones. That’s not exactly the work of a high-powered offense. Not to mention Florida’s complete lack of running game. The ground attack’s been on the decline the last few weeks and it finally bottomed out wirh 82 yards on 26 carries. Only six of which went to the game’s leading rusher in Dameon Pierce. And for another week, the offensive line struggled to get a push on the line of scrimmage. This time against a Gamecock defense that averaged 168 rushing yards allowed per game prior to kickoff. And the most disappointing part? Dan Mullen’s squad even lost in his favorite category: the yardage battle. Florida’s first true loss of the season.
Another bad performance on the road against a struggling offense. As pointed out in my pregame prediction, the Gamecocks averaged the second-lowest numbers in total offense and points per game. South Carolina had 316 yards of offense and 30 points (23 offensive) by halftime. It finished with 459 including 284 rushing on 42 carries. That’s 6.8 yards a carry for those keeping score at home. And unfortunately the Gators were gashed multiple times on the same counter play LSU ran ad nauseum in the Tigers’ win. Not only that but the man running the offense was a third stringer and former FCS QB in Jason Brown. He didn’t exactly tear it up but not also didn’t jeopardize his team. He went 14-for-24 for 175 yards and two TDs. Florida couldn’t force a single turnover against the new signal caller in his first FBS start a week after forcing three turnovers against Georgia. Not only that but the secondary had several leaks in including a man left all by his lonesome in the middle of the endzone in Josh Vann for a TD. Brenton Cox Jr. did have a somewhat good night as he posted a TFL and two pass breakups but only two solo tackles.
Special Teams: B
This unit was solid this week despite the result. Chris Howard, back in the starting kicker role, made his lone field goal attempt of the night. Meanwhile Jeremy Crawshaw and the Gators punt team didn’t allow any punt returns while the Aussie punted five times with one over fifty yards and two downed inside the 20 with both coming on a short punting field. The Gators did allow just two kick returns for an average of 23 yards but couldn’t really do much in the return game on both KO and punts. Xzavier Henderson had some struggles in that respect as his lone punt return lost four yards and his only kick return went 14. But it certainly didn’t cost Florida the game like in other weeks.
I told myself after the Georgia game, “This team is not good. It’s mediocre. Which might as well make it bad.” Now, in my eyes, it’s just plain bad. Problems keep showing up on this team. Some with consistency and some here or there. But it is always something with Florida in 2021. And that comes from coaching. Much like the LSU game, the Gators shouldn’t have struggled against this Carolina team on paper. But they did on the field. That falls on the coaching staff to solve problems, motivate players and find ways to win. Florida had one of the easiest remaining schedules in the country coming into this game. But now, after this performance, don’t be surprised if a disappointing showing comes up a few more times these next three weeks. It’s not even a given Florida will leave the other Columbia (Missouri) with a win.