Florida 20, South Carolina 7, (Not So) instant analysis: Gators knock off Gamecocks on Senior Day

Hey, a win is a win. Florida couldn’t get out of its own way for much of the day against South Carolina, but they did manage to get out of the Swamp with a win.

It was over when: Eddy Pineiro banged a 54 yard field goal right down the middle to make it 17-0 midway through the third quarter. There was just no way the Gamecocks were going to be able to erase a three score deficit.

Game ball goes to: Ahmad Fulwood, who caught Austin Appleby’s second touchdown pass of the game. The senior hauled in a well thrown ball on a corner route to record just his third career touchdown reception.

Stat of the game: 11-1. Florida is now 11-1 in the Swamp under Jim McElwain. The runner-up stat of the game: Will Muschamp drops to 3-7 in the last ten games he’s coached in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

What to like: Florida’s defense apparently didn’t like being shown up against Arkansas, and they responded by completely shutting the Gamecocks down for three quarters until the game was out of reach. And Florida’s offense moved the ball well with Austin Appleby, a nice “hell no” of a response to those clamoring to use Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask at quarterback.

What to work on: If not for self inflicted wounds, Florida wins this game by 40+ points. But two fumbles in the red zone and a needless block in the back on what would have been a punt return touchdown from Antonio Callaway kept this game closer than it needed to be. There was no doubt that Florida was the better team, but they need to play like it for all four quarters.

Offensive grade: C+. Again, Florida moved the ball all day. But you can’t discount fumbles from Mark Thompson and Austin Appleby that killed touchdown drives when calculating such a grade.

Defensive grade: B+. You’ll see plenty of quarterbacks worse than Jake Bentley, but you’ll see lots of quarterbacks better than him, too. Celebrate the complete shutdown of South Carolina’s offense at your own discretion.

Special teams grade: A. Eddy Pineiro blasted two field goals through the uprights and Johnny Townsend had a monster day punting the football, too. And Antonio Callaway terrorized South Carolina in the return game. This may be the best special teams unit Florida has had since 2009.

Bottom line: Cool, we beat Muschamp, but now what? Florida’s going to have to play the game of their collective lives if they want to beat LSU next week. Then again, if they do, the rewards are glorious: the Gators would clinch the SEC East and just their third eight win season since 2010. And this is the time to point out that Florida has pulled some shockers in Death Valley before…

Scoring recap:

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
FLORIDA 7 7 6 0 20

Scoring plays:

Team Time Play CAR FLA
FLORIDA 1st 11:17 C’yontai Lewis 6 yd pass from Austin Appleby (PAT good) 0 7
FLORIDA 2nd 9:17 Ahmad Fulwood 18 yd pass from Austin Appleby (PAT good) 0 14
FLORIDA 3rd 7:28 Eddy Pineiro 54 yd FG 0 17
FLORIDA 3rd :52 Eddy Pineiro 36 yd FG 0 20
CAROLINA 4th 6:53 David Williams 1 yd run 7 20

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