Instant Analysis: Gators Come Alive in Fourth Quarter

Oct 19, 2019 | 0 comments

When the Gators lost to Georgia last season, they handled the adversity poorly and got blown out on homecoming by Missouri the following week. Dan Mullen admitted that his team let Georgia beat them twice.

So, one of the biggest storylines heading into Saturday’s match-up between No. 9 Florida and South Carolina was how the Gators would rebound from the loss at LSU last weekend with a bye week and the much-anticipated bout with Georgia in the weeks ahead. Would they play with maturity and focus, or would they let LSU beat them twice?

It wasn’t the prettiest game offensively, but the Gators rebounded with a 38-27 comeback win over the Gamecocks (3-4, 2-3 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Columbia.

Here is Inside the Gators’ Instant Analyis of the win.

It Was Over When: Trailing 20-17, UF got the ball early in the fourth quarter at its own 48-yard line. Facing fourth-and-3 from the Gamecocks’ 34, Kyle Trask rolled to his left, extended the play as long as he could and fired across his body to a diving Kyle Pitts for a first down. On the next play, Trask threw a 25-yard go-ahead touchdown down the right sideline to Freddie Swain, who was held on the play and had to dive to make the catch.

On the Gamecocks’ ensuing possession, quarterback Ryan Hilinski tried to hand the ball off to Tavien Feaster on a draw play. However, Feaster wasn’t on the same page and tried to block. Zachary Carter drilled Hilinski and knocked the ball free. Kyree Campbell recovered at the South Carolina 25.

Trask added touchdown strikes of five yards to Pitts and five yards to Trevon Grimes to put the game away.

They Stole the Show: Trask got off to a poor start, as he seemed to struggle to grip the ball in the first half rain, and threw an interception on the opening series of the second half. However, he shook it off and established a new career-high with four touchdown passes. Overall, he completed 21-of-33 passes for 200 yards.

Dameon Pierce rushed for a 75-yard score to tie the game at 17 early in the third quarter. He ran hard on his seven carries and helped establish a physical tone. Fellow running back Lamical Perine added 68 yards on 14 carries.

Redshirt freshman receiver Jacob Copeland turned in the most productive game of his career, catching three passes for 89 yards and a 37-yard touchdown.

Defensively, David Reese amassed 13 tackles, and CJ Henderson made nine stops and broke up a pass.

The Stats Don’t Lie: Statistically, it’s hard to see how the Gators won this game. The Gamecocks outgained the Gators 387 to 354. South Carolina converted seven of 18 third downs, compared to 5-for-14 for Florida. Both teams turned it over once.

The biggest difference was in the average yards-per-play. Florida averaged 5.6 compared to 5.0 for South Carolina.

The Gators sacked Hilinski three times, while the Gamecocks got to Trask just twice. UF recorded seven tackles-for-loss versus three for South Carolina.

Oh What A Play: Swain has come up clutch for the Gators throughout his career, and he did again on Saturday. A lot of receivers would’ve given up on the play after being mauled and start pleading for a penalty. Instead, he continued running at full speed and laid out to haul in the catch that proved to be the deciding score in the game.

These Matchups Proved Key: Earlier this week, Dan Mullen praised the Gamecocks’ defensive line by saying they were as good as or better than LSU’s front. His offensive line responded by playing their best game of the season. Trask was sacked just twice, and one of those came on UF’s next-to-last possession when they were trying to run out the clock anyway. They paved the way for 154 rushing yards and 5.1 yards-per-carry. Potential first-round draft pick Javon Kinlaw was a non-factor, making no sacks or tackles-for-loss.

On the other side, Florida’s defensive line fared well despite being without Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard for the second week in a row. They pressured Hilinski throughout the day and defended the run well with the exception of a couple of big plays.

Trask outplayed Hilinski in the battle of the backup quarterbacks. Hilinski completed 17 of 35 passes for 170 yards and a score but missed a couple of open deep shots.

Up Next: After a week off to rest and hopefully get some players back from injury, Florida (7-1, 4-1) will square off with No. 10 Georgia in Jacksonville on Nov. 2 in a game that will likely decide the SEC East and could have serious playoff implications.

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