Loss hard to swallow for Marcus Thomas

Marcus Thomas and most of the Florida defense can't be faulted for their effort in the Gators 30-22 loss against South Carolina on Saturday. The 6-3, 305 pound junior defensive tackle from Jacksonville led the Florida defensive line six tackles and two sacks. He blocked an extra point that accounted for two points and had a quarterback hurry. His effort on the day wasn't enough against a South Carolina team that was aided with penalties and smart play throughout the game.

The Gator defense allowed only 246 yards but gave up two short field scores which turned out to be the difference in the game. The Florida offense out-gained South Carolina by over 100 yards, but stalled late in the game due to penalties. Thomas finds the loss somewhat inexcusable.

"I am mad that we lost the game because we had no business losing the game," Thomas said. "I knew they would give us their best shot…but we shouldn't lose this game."

The Gamecocks switched up enough times on offense to get thirty points on the board and keep the Gators somewhat on their toes. Although the yardage doesn't bear it out, the Gamecock offense was able to move on the defense.

"They caught us off guard with inside draw plays," he said. "We were real aggressive trying to get to the quarterback and they changed up on us. They were going back and forth with it changing up."

The penalties were brutal on Florida. 11 penalties for 86 yards to South Carolina's three penalties for 20 yards, the Gators gave up third downs due to penalties and also gave up second and short and other opportunities on offense. Thomas found it hard to believe, because the team was giving effort on the field.

"Everyone was out there trying to make plays. I felt like I did good by blocking the punt. It just wasn't going our way with the penalties. Everybody played hard, there were just a lot of mental mistakes we don't need to be having. That was really disappointing."

Until the Gators turned the ball over on a special teams miscue with one minute left, Thomas and his teammates thought they would win the game. The Gators should have had the ball back with the last sixty seconds but were called for an illegal substitution allowing South Carolina to ru the clock out.

"We feel like we are a second half team anyway, so we thought we would put it together in the second half and win."

It wasn't enough.

The SEC season is over. The dreams as far as the conference is concerned are over. The SEC East Championship was a major goal of Thomas and the team, but there is still more to play for.

"We are just trying to come out here and play," Thomas said. "Things didn't go our way. We worked hard and I thought we would come out as SEC Champion. This is one we worked for to get to this point. We made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point and it's disappointing. The whole deal was to get the seniors a ring before they leave."

"We are just going to get focused on Florida State. We are still going to try to let the seniors go out on top. Whatever it takes we are going to do."

The Florida Gators and Marcus Thomas have two weeks to regroup before playing in The Swamp in front of a frenzied crowd against a reeling Florida State team. With the SEC season done, the game in Gainesville will be the biggest of the season.

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