Wounded Gators look for turnaround at South Carolina

Sports

Florida aims to take a step toward returning to the national rankings when it faces South Carolina on Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.

The Gators (4-4, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) were ranked as high as No. 10 four games into the season, but losing three of four has knocked them out of the Top 25.

Florida fell 34-7 against top-ranked Georgia last week, when Gators redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in his first career start.

“It’s six inches between a pat on the back and a kick in the rear end,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said Monday of his team. “In the SEC, you’re either getting one or the other. There’s no in-between.”

A talented offensive line has helped Florida compile an FBS-leading 6.07 yards per carry and to become one of two teams (with Ole Miss) to average more than 475 overall yards and 240 yards rushing.

South Carolina (4-4, 1-4) is coming off a bye week that followed a 44-14 defeat at then-No. 17 Texas A&M on Oct. 23.

The quarterback position continues to be a fluid situation for the Gamecocks.

Former graduate assistant Zeb Noland, who underwent a minor knee procedure last week, was practicing earlier this week in hopes of being ready to face the Gators. If the coaching staff feels Noland isn’t mobile enough to perform, senior Jason Brown would start.

Brown relieved Noland in the fourth quarter against the Aggies — one week after Noland, who started the first three games, entered for the final drive and fueled a come-from-behind victory against Vanderbilt. Sophomore Luke Doty, who played most of the game against the Commodores, is out for the season after undergoing foot surgery.

“If you look at the great offenses across high school football, college football, the NFL, a pretty common denominator is they’ve all got pretty good quarterback play,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. “You’ve got to have a quarterback, and you’ve got to keep him healthy. We have quarterbacks; we haven’t been able to keep them healthy.”

Florida leads the overall series 29-9-3. The Gators have won each in the past three, including a 38-24 victory in Gainesville, Fla., last year.

–Field Level Media

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