COLUMBIA — South Carolina proved yet again that they can play with the best on Saturday. The Gamecocks controlled the game and looked almost elite in a dominant fourth quarter.
They did not, however, do anything during the first three quarters and would eventually fall to Florida 24-14.
The Gamecocks did nothing on the ground all day, though much of that can be contributed to a stout Gator defense. USC managed only 21 yards on 23 carries for the day.
Without Pharoh Cooper and Perry Orth, the Gamecocks likely would not have managed much of anything. The duo each tossed a touchdown pass to the other in the fourth quarter in a furious attempt at a comeback.
In the end, the much maligned Gator offense got one big play to seal the game. Despite over 250 passing yards from Treon Harris, Florida’s run game managed less than 100 yards until Kelvin Taylor broke a 53-yard run on third and long.
That has been the story for the Gamecock defense all year, though. South Carolina ranks 106th out of 127 FBS teams in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert on more than 45 percent of their third down tries. Combine that with a woeful third down offense, slightly outdoing the defense in mediocrity at 107th in conversion rate, and it’s easy to see why South Carolina will be home this holiday season.
South Carolina has remained competitive late in games against Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Florida under Shawn Elliott and have looked good in flashes. If this team could figure out how to flick that switch and keep it on, it could prove dangerous to just about anyone in the country.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.