If Saturday’s game at Williams-Brice Stadium was a prizefight, it would have been stopped in the third round when Florida could no longer protect itself against South Carolina’s flurry of jabs, hooks and haymakers. But it wasn’t a fight. Not much of one, anyway. Instead, it was a 40-17 Gamecocks victory, the biggest upset in Shane Beamer’s first season and a coming-out party for quarterback Jason Brown.
Brown took over an offense that ranked 115th nationally in scoring (20.9) and yardage (328). Before their performance, Saturday night, it was hard to point to anything the Gamecocks offense did especially well. It was a group last seen licking its wounds after a bad road defeat at the hands of Texas A&M. But with Brown at the controls, South Carolina operated like a finely tuned machine, piling up 459 yards and 21 first downs without turning the ball over. Punter Kai Kroeger wasn’t called on until the third quarter and the Gamecocks committed just one penalty.
Winning as 20-point underdogs in Brown’s first start will deservedly make headlines, but the running game is what truly fueled the fire. ZaQuandre White landed the early blows, including an electric run of 54 yards that set the Gators on their heels. Later, All-SEC running back Kevin Harris took the baton and sprinted 39 yards to set up one of Parker White’s four field goals. Finally, Marshawn Lloyd’s career-high rush of 40 yards served to break Florida’s spirit and put the game away. In all, Harris (128 yards), White (111) and Lloyd (46) combined for 285 yards rushing on 7.9 yards/carry.
Defensively, the Gamecocks stifled a Florida attack that came to Columbia averaging 31 points on the strength of 242.6 rushing yards/game. The Gators netted just 82 yards on the ground against Clayton White’s unit, however, and were turned away on seven of ten third-down attempts. The defense also got into the end zone. Just before half, Aaron Sterling forced a fumble that Jabari Ellis cradled and carried for an 18-yard touchdown. It was part of a 40-point outburst, the most the Gamecocks have ever scored against a Florida team.
South Carolina (5-4, 2-4) will now shift its focus to the Tigers portion of the schedule …. Missouri, Auburn and Clemson.