USC’s push for a fourth straight win and a shot and the SEC East title ended with a 20-7 loss to Florida Saturday in Gainesville. Will Muschamp’s old team flexed it’s muscles for the better part of three and a half quarters before the Gamecocks made a late push to at least make it respectable.
USC looked like a young team playing on the road for the first time in over a month, especially early. Florida built a 14 point halftime lead that could have, maybe should have been worse. The Gamecock defense struggled to make stops, but avoided major catastrophe by forcing three Gators turnovers in the first two quarters. But the offense didn’t have much to offer in the way of support. Freshman Jake Bentley played with poise in his first road start but he did commit the first two turnovers of his career. He lost a fumble in the first half and threw an interception in the second half. He completed 18 of 33 passes for 213 yards. He was sacked five times and hit at least twice as many times. Muschamp said those sacks were from a combination of Bentley holding the ball too long, pass protection breakdowns and receivers struggling to get open against Florida’s pressing defensive backs.
Florida had a 20-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but USC did its best to make it a game. David Williams scored the Gamecocks first touchdown with 6:53 to play in the game. After a stop, the Gamecocks moved back into the red zone with a chance to make it a six point game, but they turned it over on downs. The fourth down pass was just out of the reach of tight end Hayden Hurst in the end zone.
Muschamp praised the way his team fought to the end. He said the plan is to study what went wrong and right against the Gators then turn their attention to Western Carolina and a chance to get bowl eligible.
Running back Rico Dowdle left the game with a leg injury, but Muschamp said he is fine. Defensive back Chris Moody suffered a bone bruise in the first half and did not return.
Take a listen to what Muschamp had to say after the game:
WILL MUSCHAMP POST GAME NEWS CONFERENCE: