Take Five Breakdown: Florida-South Carolina Preview

South Carolina Preview

by Chris Will
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Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators

The Florida Gators are back on the road for Week 7. After a comfortable win over the Vanderbilt Commodores, Florida now turns their attention to the South Carolina Gamecocks. Inside the Gators caught up with Emily Adams of The Greenville News to get an inside look at the Gamecocks.

Five South Carolina Gamecocks to Know

Spencer Rattler, Quarterback, Senior

  • With over 1,400 yards and seven 1,411, 7 touchdowns through the air and two on the ground, Rattler is returning to the prospect many expected him to be. With lots of highs and lows in his college career, Adams said he is having a lot more good days. “I think that has been a big net positive for him this year,” she said.

Mario Anderson, Running Back, Junior

  • At an underwhelming 230 yards and just two touchdowns on the year, Anderson is th RB1 for the Gamecocks. As for what the running game looks like? “South Carolina would also like to know that,” Adams said. Anderson secured the lead role in the backfield with nearly 190 yards in his last two appearances.

Xavier Legette, Wide Receiver, Senior

  • Legette’s 606 receiving yards is over 400 yards more than the next-best option on South Carolina. “He always had decent hands,” Adams said, “He ran good routes but just wasn’t fast, couldn’t make people miss. And suddenly that has all changed. He is really difficult to bring down once he gets going just because he’s so big for a receiver.”

Jalon Kilgore, Defensive Back, Freshman

  • As a freshman, Kilgore leads the team in tackles and added an interception. “He wasn’t their highest-rated guy in the recruiting class, but just really emerged during the preseason as a guy that coaches were talking about a lot,” Adams said.

TJ Sanders, Defensive Tackle, Sophomore

  • He is a little banged up heading into this matchup. If he plays, he could cause some problems for the Florida offensive line. He has a team-leading three sacks this year.

Five Fast Facts

  • Florida owns a 30-10-3 series lead and commands a 12-8-1 advantage over the Gamecocks on the road.
  • The Gators have dropped four of their last six contests at South Carolina.
  • In last year’s 38-6 drubbing, Florida posted its largest margin of victory (+32) in an SEC game of the Billy Napier era.
  • Quarterback Graham Mertz has completed 70% of his passes or better in each of his first six starts as a Gator – the only Florida quarterback to accomplish the feat in six consecutive games across the past 20 seasons.
  • In year one under defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong, Florida ranks third in the SEC, 12th in the P5 and 16th in the FBS in total defense with 286.2 yards allowed per game. Through six games last year, UF had allowed 412.8 yards per game.

Five Game Day Storylines

Bounce Back

  • South Carolina traveled down to Gainesville last season and walked away stunned. A 38-6 loss and an offense that didn’t break 250 total yards. But it served as a turning point. South Carolina went on to beat No. 6 Tennessee 63-38 and took down Clemson on the road. “They’ve said this week, ‘We haven’t talked about Florida last year at all. We haven’t talked about sort of last year at all,’” Adams said, “But I think that that game did sit with them in a very good way.”

On the Road Again

  • Florida hasn’t had much success on the road under Billy Napier. The Gators are changing their travel routine and getting to South Carolina earlier than usual. But it won’t change the environment they’ll see on Saturday for South Carolina’s homecoming. “This is also the state fair weekend here in South Carolina which will bring even more craziness to the surrounding area,” Adams said.

Tough Competition

  • South Carolina sits at 2-3 on the year. Not in surprising fashion though. They’ve lost to ranked opponents in North Carolina and Tennessee on top of two-time reigning National Champions in the Georgia Bulldogs. “I feel like this Florida game is the first time there’s real stakes,” Adams said, “I think if they lose this game, their path to bowl eligibility disappears pretty quickly.”

Efficient but Not Explosive

  • Florida’s offense, particularly the passing game, has lacked explosiveness. The Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier has pointed out how the Gators need to take more shots down the field. Napier has even acknowledged it. But they may be able to turn the corner this week. “I’m concerned that it’s going to become explosive, quite frankly because this defense is not great at stopping explosive runs,” Adams said.

Beamer and Napier

  • South Carolina Head Coach Shane Beamer and Napier are in many ways comparable. Both took over declining programs. Both face expectations of significant success. “How they perform against each other, I think, is important not just to them, but to sort of the broader narratives of how successful a higher they are,” Adams said.


  • Emily Adams: South Carolina 31-21
  • Chris Will: Florida 31-28

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