South Carolina avenged a major foe as Will Muschamp earned his first victory over his former team, as the Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators, 28-20, in front of 79,727 on a chilly Columbia afternoon.
The game resembled Florida’s season, ugly, but there was plenty of that to go on both sidelines.
USC quarterback Jake Bentley had his most erratic day, throwing three interceptions, one of which went back to South Carolina after a forced fumble at the goal line. South Carolina’s running game picked up Bentley, rushing for 220 yards, 136 of which came from AJ Turner, who had 172 all-purpose yards.
Despite some slippage late, the Gamecocks defense was able to force Florida off the field on 11 third downs (2 3rd-Down misses were converted on 4th Down) and earned a late Jamyest Williams interception to seal the victory.
Both teams had their struggles holding onto the football with a combined seven turnovers, but Will Muschamp liked the composure his team had not dwelling on mistakes:
While Bentley did not seem to have the touch with his arm, he was able to score on the ground.
Bentley reverted to the quarterback runs that fueled his successful day against Vanderbilt, adding two touchdown runs in the first and third quarters.
His two touchdowns, along with Mon Denson’s pair of scampers accounted for the Gamecocks’ only scoring.
Bentley and Turner knew that they needed to be creative with how they moved the football with the passing game in flux.
Jake Bentley and AJ Turner
The defensive line stole the show from there, collecting four sacks and making big plays in the backfield.
Javon Kinlaw made four solo tackles including a tackle for loss on a screen pass where he ran halfway across the field to make a tackle on the far boundary.
Aaron Sterling also had one of the Gamecocks’ four sacks, the first of his career.
Both Kinlaw and Taylor Stallworth knew the effort was extraordinary from their unit.
Javon Kinlaw and Taylor Stallworth
Finally, the secondary stepped up with DJ Smith unable to go pregame because of a hip injury.
Steven Montac, who Will Muschamp says, “can play any position on our defense”, stepped in at nickelback.
Jamyest Williams had one of his best games of his young Gamecocks career, nabbing the late pick to seal the victory for South Carolina.
Cornerback Rashad Fenton said the Gamecocks adjusted well after Feleipe Franks replaced Florida QB Malik Zaire, who left with a knee injury.
He said despite the Gators’ propensity to pass, the game plan didn’t change a whole lot with Franks in the game.
The Miami, FL native said there was little more behind this win for him.
Elsewhere on the injury front, the only significant in-game injury came when Shi Smith was poked in the eye during a first-quarter catch. Muschamp said after the game Smith did not suffer a concussion, but his vision was blurry. He’ll be re-evaluated before the start of next week.
Will Palaszczuk gave his postgame thoughts on Periscope:
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) November 11, 2017
South Carolina clinched at least a share of second place in the SEC East with the win, finishing the conference season at 5-3. The Gamecocks have two in-state non-conference opponents left on their schedule with Wofford and Clemson left to play.
The Gamecocks and Terriers kick off at 4 PM at Williams-Brice Stadium and will be televised on the SEC’s Alternate Channel.