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From the Student Section: South Carolina at Florida

Slow start dooms Gamecocks in the Swamp

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks drop to 5-5 on the year with a 20-7 defeat to Florida. The Gamecocks also finish the season at 3-5 in SEC play. Trailing 14-0 at halftime, had it not been for three Florida turnovers, Carolina could have been down 20+ plus at halftime.

Offense struggles, fail to exploit Florida injuries

In his first collegiate road start, USC QB Jake Bentley performed okay. The freshman turned it over twice but was running for his life most of the afternoon. With little help from the offensive line, Bentley did well enough to give the Gamecock a shot to make it a 20-14 game with a minute remaining. He finished with a line of 18 for 33 for 213 yards and one interception. The poor o-line play caused the run game to be non-existent: David Williams was USC’s leading rusher with 20 yards and had their lone touchdown as the Gamecocks only ran for 43 yards. Because of injuries, Florida started two freshmen at linebacker, but their afternoon was made easy as the USC playcalling failed to target them over the middle. The Gator d-line also protected them, winning the battle in the trenches.

Run defense continues poor play

The Carolina run defense has struggled as the Gamecocks are giving up just shy of 200 yards per game on the year. It was another rough day at the office this week. The Gators racked up 171 on the ground as RB Jordan Scarlett had his best day of the season with 134 yards, his previous high being 101 yards against Missouri last month. Poor tackling also hurt the Gamecocks in the return game: Florida’s Antonio Callaway averaged 25 yards a return, gaining 100 yards on four punts.

3-5 in SEC play

After going 1-7 in league play last year, the Gamecocks finish 3-5 in Coach Muschamp’s first season. With wins over Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Missouri, USC will likely finish 5th in the SEC East. The Gamecocks certainly had opportunities to add a win or two to that record, but it should be good enough to allow the Gamecocks to qualify for a bowl game.

The Verdict

South Carolina heads home to take on Western Carolina for senior day at Williams-Brice. With a win against the 2-8 Catamounts, the Gamecocks earn a thirteenth game for the seniors. That would follow the trip to Clemson, who lost at home this week against Pittsburgh.