USA TODAY/Jim Dedmon

Florida Gators’ opponent preview: South Carolina Gamecocks

Florida plays its final road game in Columbia this weekend.


The Gamecocks come into Saturday’s game with the No. 12 scoring offense in the Southeastern Conference at 21.7 points per game. They are No. 8 in rushing offense (175.8 yards), No. 10 in passing offense (191.3 yards) and No. 11 in total offense (367.1 yards).


Perry Orth has played most of the snaps at quarterback for the Gamecocks this season. He went 20-39 through the air for 233 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a three-point loss at Tennessee last week. On the season, Orth has completed 53.6 percent (89-166) of his passes for 1,180 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Gamecocks still mix freshman Lorenzo Nunez into the quarterback position, but he’s more of a runner. He’s 31-51 on the season for 374 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Nunez is second on the team with 306 rushing yards and tied for the team lead with two rushing touchdowns.                                                                                 


South Carolina leans on senior Brandon Wilds in the running game. He has 96 carries for 507 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 84.5 yards per game this season. He’s tied for the team lead with two rushing touchdowns. Wilds is also third on the team with 13 receptions and 110 receiving yards.

David Williams serves as the backup running back. He has 73 rushes for 262 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per carry with no touchdowns.


Pharoh Cooper is one of the best playmakers in the league. His biggest impact comes as a receiver, but he’ll also take reps as a wildcat quarterback that can throw and as the primary punt returner. Cooper has 48 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 72.9 yards per game. For reference, the Gamecocks’ second best receiver statistically is D.J Neal, who has seven catches for 100 yards and zero touchdowns.

Matrick Belton is also a factor with eight catches for 77 yards while Shamier Jeffery, the younger brother of Alshon Jeffery, has seven caches for 71 yards on the season.


Jerell Adams is the team’s best weapon behind Cooper. Adams has 18 catches for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He averages 30 receiving yards per game, the second highest mark on the team.


Left tackle Brandon Shell is the most experienced player on the South Carolina offensive line, riding a streak of 44 consecutive starts up front. He played exclusively right tackle over the past two seasons before switching to the left side in the preseason. Left guard Mike Matulis, a redshirt senior, had 10 starts coming into the season but has started all nine games this season.

Center Alan Knott started seven games at center last season and opened the year on the Rimington Watch List. He has six starts at center this season with freshman Zack Bailey starting the other three. Knott is expected to start on Saturday.  

Right guard Will Sport has contributed in 42 games during his career with 21 starts, including starts in all nine games this season. Right tackle Mason Zandi, a redshirt junior, came into the season with no career starts but has started all nine games this fall.



The Gamecocks come into Saturday with the No. 12 scoring defense at 27.3 points allowed. South Carolina ranks No. 13 in rushing defense (208.3 yards), No. 10 in passing defense (219.7 yards) and No. 13 in total defense (428 yards).


Defensive end Marquavius Lewis has 35 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss with three sacks. He’s tied with Boosie Whitlow, the other starting defensive end, with four quarterback hurries. Lewis has one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. Whitlow has three tackles for a loss with one sack.

The Gamecocks start Dante Sawyer and Gerald Dixon, Jr. at defensive tackle. Sawyer has 16 tackles with 2.5 sacks from the middle with one quarterback hurry. Dixon has 23 tackles with one forced fumble.


When South Carolina uses three linebackers, it’s weak side Skai Moore, middle linebacker T.J. Holloman and strong side linebacker Larenz Bryant. Moore, a Cooper City, Fla. native, leads the team with 89 tackles, 29 more than any other player on the team. Moore also leads the team in interceptions (four), tackles for loss (6.5) and pass breakups (four).

Holloman is fourth on the team with 40 tackles, adding two tackles for loss, two interceptions, two pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. Bryant isn’t on the field much because the Gamecocks don’t traditionally play three linebackers together.


The Gamecocks lean heavily on three cornerbacks Al Harris, Jr., Chris Lammons and Rico McWilliams. Lammons and McWilliams are listed as the two starters for Saturday’s game while Harris and McWilliams started last week at Tennessee.

Harris has started every game since the season opener with 24 tackles and four pass breakups. Lammons has 17 tackles and three pass breakups. McWilliams has 20 tackles and one pass breakup.


The depth chart lists Isaiah Johnson and Jordan Diggs as the starting safeties after D.J. Smith started last week at Tennessee.

Johnson is second on the team with 60 tackles and has two pass breakups. Diggs has 38 tackles with one interception this season. Smith has 18 tackles and one pass breakup.

They do use the Spur position, which mostly serves as a nickel, that is played by T.J. Gurley. The senior is third on the team with 44 tackles, adding one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry.


The Gamecocks are No. 3 in kickoff returns and rank No. 9 in kickoff coverage. South Carolina is No. 11 in punt return average with 7.3 yards per return and No. 8 in field goal percentage (69.6 percent, 16-23).

Fightin Gators Top Stories