South Carolina came into Saturday’s game as the 10th rated team in the nation, and they were facing off against a Florida team that has underwhelmed mightily.
When the game got going, the roles reversed. Florida jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the 1st quarter, and South Carolina couldn’t get anything going. Florida is built around their defense, and their offense is supposed to do just enough to win. They lost their starter in Jeff Driskel, and Tyler Murphy wasn’t exactly stellar. Murphy missed practice all week with a shoulder injury, which means that Skyler Mornhinweg was going to make his first career start. Their defense made it to where Mornhinweg didn’t have to do much, as they shut down Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks.
South Carolina managed to get 2 field goals to make it 7-6 in the second quarter, but Kelvin Taylor ran in one of his two touchdowns for Florida, and it was 14-6 with 10 minutes left in the half. After that, there wasn’t much scoring. The score would remain 14-6 heading into halftime, and it was a battle of defenses. South Carolina wasn’t moving the ball, and Florida couldn’t get going under their freshman quarterback.
The third quarter would be much of the same, and South Carolina finally got in the end zone on a 32 yard pass to Bruce Ellington from Connor Shaw. South Carolina inched closer, and it was 14-13. That touchdown would be the only score for the entire third quarter, and this game was ugly to watch. Heading into the 4th, Florida’s offense wasn’t doing them any favors, as they couldn’t move the ball. South Carolina would add two more field goals, and took the lead 19-14 with 2:16 left in the game. Skyler Mornhinweg and the Gators had one more chance to win the game. Mornhinwheg moved the ball down to South Carolina territory, but he committed the only turnover of the game when he threw an interception to Jimmy Legree at the South Carolina 36 yard line, and the game was over.
If you tuned in to see an offensive shootout, then you were disappointed. Florida had only 307 yards, but Carolina wasn’t better with 377. Florida did rush the ball for 200 yards, and that was something to build on for the home stretch. Connor Shaw was 14 for 28 for 213 yards and a touchdown, but he wasn’t impressive. Both teams were about equal statistically, but Florida had 8 penalties for 65 yards, as opposed to 5 for 45 by South Carolina. This game shows that Florida has the talent to hang with good teams, but they desperately need a quarterback. Skyler Mornhinweg was decent in his first college game, as he went 10 for 14 for 107 yards, at an average of 7.6 yards per pass.
South Carolina hasn’t been the team everyone expected them to be, but with another Missouri loss, they will be in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East. They held off unranked Florida 19-14.