Instant Analysis: Gators gain bowl eligibility

Nov 12, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

For the fourth-straight season, the Florida Gators are going bowling after a 38–6 win over South Carolina on Senior Day gave them six wins in Billy Napier’s first season. Anthony Richardson, Montrell Johnson, and Trevor Etienne all ran for touchdowns, while the defense recovered fumbles on three-straight possessions to open the second half.

Inside the Gators’ Instant Analysis takes a quick look at how the game unfolded.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Richardson found the endzone from three yards out to start the game. Richardson’s ninth touchdown rush of the season kickstarted a 21-0 first-quarter lead, and the Gators never looked back, racking up over 350 yards on the ground while the defense held the Gamecocks scoreless as their only score came on a fake punt.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW:  Florida’s three-headed rushing attack of Richardson, Etienne, and Johnson. The three combined for 357 yards and three touchdowns, including an 85-yard touchdown by Etienne in the first quarter. Johnson led the way with a career-high 161 yards on 24 carries while Etienne added exactly 100. Additionally, it was the first time a Gator freshman ran for 100 yards since Malik Davis in 2017. A six-yard loss knocked Richardson off the 100-yard podium, but he did finish with 96 yards and the game’s first score. When Florida’s passing offense, who was without Justin Shorter for the second-straight week, struggled to find a rhythm, the Gators’ rushing game shined.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: South Carolina and Florida combined for seven fumbles, but Florida recovered six of them. The Gators put the ball on the ground four times to the Gamecocks’ three. However, Florida recovered three of their four fumbles and all of South Carolina’s. Turnovers matter, and the Gators made big plays while the offense avoided major mistakes.

THIS MATCH-UP PROVED KEY:  Florida’s front seven versus South Carolina’s offensive line. Gamecock quarterback Spencer Rattler was under constant pressure the entire night and the rush game did not find success as the Gators made six tackles for loss and three sacks. Additionally, Florida held South Carolina to only 44 yards on 23 attempts and kept the Gamecocks out of the endzone. It was also the second-straight game the Gators did not allow a single point in the second half. In their second game without Brenton Cox Jr., the Gators’ front dominated the line of scrimmage.

WHAT A PLAY: Back-to-back-to-back fumble recoveries to start the second half. South Carolina ran only four plays with three of them being fumbles recovered by Florida. Rashad Torrence II recovered his own forced fumble on Antwane Wells Jr. On the very next drive, Desmond Watson stripped the ball from Jaheim Bell and returned it to the Gators’ 12-yard line, leading to a 4-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to Jonathan Odom. The very next play, Kamari Wilson forced a fumble on what would have been a first down completion, which was recovered by Trey Dean III. Three-straight fumble recoveries kept the momentum on Florida’s side when the offense lost its rhythm.

UP NEXT: Florida travels to Vanderbilt to conclude SEC play and looks for their third-straight win for the first time since 2020. Kickoff in Nashville is at noon with television coverage on the SEC Network.

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