Gators finish perfect against SEC East foes with 24-14 win at South Carolina
It wasn’t the prettiest win, but the No. 11 Florida Gators left Columbia, S.C. with a 9-1 record after defeating South Carolina 24-14. Florida had the ball nearly twice as long as USC, but couldn’t score enough to put the game away until late in the fourth quarter when Gators RB Kelvin Taylor delivered in the clutch.
- Four-quarter game: Florida entered the fourth quarter with a 17-0 lead, having dominated time of possession and total yards. South Carolina caught the Gators trying to take it easy in the final 15 minutes, cutting UF’s lead to 17-14.
- Just like old times: UF coach Jim McElwain improved to 9-1 on the year, guaranteeing a first season at least as good as Urban Meyer’s 9-3 mark in his first season back in 2005. Florida did it by going 7-0 against the SEC East for the first time since Meyer’s 2009 team was perfect.
- Turnover trouble: One of QB Treon Harris’ strengths before November had been protecting the football, but he threw two picks against South Carolina. The turnover inside the 5-yard line was particularly costly, keeping it a two-possession game (14-0) to end the first half.
- Run blocking still an issue: South Carolina entered the game as the No. 111 rushing defense, allowing 208.3 yards per game. The Gators finished with 148 yards on 43 carries, with 53 yards coming on RB Kelvin Taylor’s first-down run to seal the win.
- Playmakers contained: The two biggest names to watch on offense for South Carolina were WR Pharoh Cooper and RB Brandon Wilds. Cooper was held to 40 receiving yards on three receptions (38 yards coming on his touchdown reception), while Wilds only recorded 12 yards on eight carries.
Offense: (B-minus) – Florida controlled the clock, holding the ball for 39:56. For all the time the Gators spent on offense, the output of 256 passing yards and 148 rushing yards for 24 points seems low against a Carolina team that ranks No. 90 in the FBS in total defense.
Defense: (A-minus) – For three quarters, this was an A-plus performance, holding USC to 44 yards of total offense. Overall, UF’s defense did well in the victory, but allowing two fourth-quarter touchdowns put the game in jeopardy.
Special Teams: (B) – K Austin Hardin made his only field goal from 39 yards out. There weren’t any glaring issues in the kicking game, but no game-changing plays either.
Coaching: (B-plus) – Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins looked brilliant through the first three quarters. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier called the kind of game that’s become expected of Florida with Harris as the signal-caller.
Overall: (B) – It felt a bit like escaping again, but the Gators won’t complain about a 10-point victory on the road over an SEC team.
Florida took a balanced approach on offense and held the ball nearly twice as long as South Carolina. The Gators spread the ball around, with seven players making a reception. It wasn’t a dominating win that will get any style points from the playoff committee, but keeping the Williams-Brice Stadium crowd out of the game by playing low-risk football was clearly the priority.
- RB Jordan Cronkrite: Harris’ touchdown pass to Cronkrite probably should have been an interception, but the running back snatched it away from USC CB Chris Lammons. If the play had resulted in a turnover, it could have been a completely different ball game.
- RB Kelvin Taylor: Taylor (18 carries, 105 yards, TD) provided hard running all day, and probably deserved more carries. His 53-yard run on third-and-8 late in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Gators.
- Despite being on the pregame injury report, DL Jonathan Bullard (5 tackles, sack) and S Keanu Neal (4 tackles) both played.
- DE Alex McCalister left the game with a foot injury, but on the postgame radio show, McElwain relayed that the x-rays came back negative.
- DL Jordan Sherit injured his hamstring.
- RB Jordan Cronkrite also injured his foot.