Mark Zerof/USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators focused on South Carolina Gamecocks’ playmakers

Losing Steve Spurrier hasn’t impacted the way the Gators view the South Carolina offense.

The numbers aren’t overly impressive. Against Southeastern Conference opponents, the Gamecocks are No. 11 in scoring offense (21.0 points), No. 10 in total offense (358.6 yards) No. 7 in rushing offense (158.9 yards) and No. 10 in passing offense (199.7 yards). South Carolina has started Lorenzo Nunez, Connor Mitch and most recently Perry Orth at quarterback.

It doesn’t matter who is under center for the Gamecocks under interim coach Shawn Elliot, his team is destined to be innovative and try to confuse the opposing defense. South Carolina isn’t talented enough on offense to line up and beat most SEC defenses with a normal game plan, so they’re thinking outside the box to build confuse and try to hit big plays.

"They're not afraid to throw a double-reverse pass, double reverse, triple reverse, fake option, pitch it out to here,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “It's kind of fun to watch actually. Discipline is going to be huge for us, and we'll see if we have it. We’ve got to be highly disciplined in everything we’re doing. We’ve got to be good with our eyes and pay attention to detail.”

The Gamecocks lean heavily on two skill players to carry the offense. Running back Brandon Wilds leads the rushing attack, totaling 507 yards on the ground despite missing three games this season. Wilds averages 84.5 rushing yards per game and is third on the team with 110 receiving yards.

But when South Carolina needs a big play, it’s their do-it-all playmaker Pharoh Cooper who usually provides it. He’s listed exclusively as a wide receiver on the official roster, but watch just one game with the Gamecocks involved and you’ll realize how much more he is.

Cooper lines up in the wildcat and can run the football, throw the football or hand it off to a running back of receiver. Through the air, he is 1-3 for -6 yards this season. However, Cooper went 5-8 for 78 yards and two touchdowns through the air last season. He has 17 rushes for 105 yards and one touchdown this season.

“I think the only thing he hasn't played is left tackle,” McElwain said. “He plays quarterback. He plays wide out. He plays running back. They give him the ball in every way, shape, and form, which deservedly so with his ability. He's a dynamic playmaker and there's a reason why he's playing in the SEC. The guy's pretty good."

The Florida defense has heard about Cooper all week. They’ve seen him on film and understand how explosive he can be. It’s a challenge for the Gators to shut him down, but he will have their full attention since Cooper has 48 receptions on the year and no other wide receiver on the roster has more than eight.

"You have to key on him,” Florida safety Marcus Maye said. “We know he's their guy, their go-to guy. We have to point out where he's at every play, keep an eye on him and stop the run game. Make sure we do what we have to do. He can go in the backfield or throw the ball. They have a few other guys that can go in the backfield and can be a wildcat quarterback and do different things. We watched film, see those things and make adjustments."

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