Florida football: Know your enemy – South Carolina Gamecocks

ATHENS, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 12: Ernest Jones #53 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts after a defensive stop against the Georgia Bulldogs in the second half at Sanford Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 12: Ernest Jones #53 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts after a defensive stop against the Georgia Bulldogs in the second half at Sanford Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Florida football travels to Columbia to renew their SEC East rivalry with South Carolina.

Florida football leads the overall series over the Gamecocks 27-9-3, but South Carolina has five wins over Florida since 2010.

Last 5 Meetings

2018 – Florida 35-31
2017 – South Carolina 28-20
2016 – Florida 20-7
2015 – Florida 24-14
2014 – South Carolina 23-20

Opponent Season Summary

Game #1 – L 24-20 vs North Carolina

South Carolina QB Jake Bentley was 16-30 passing for 142 yards and 1 touchdown on the day and UNC outgained South Carolina by nearly 200 yards. The Cocks jumped out to a 20-9 lead, but two fourth-quarter touchdowns from the Tar Heels’ true freshman QB Sam Howell sunk South Carolina late as North Carolina pulled the upset in Mack Brown‘s return to the sideline.

Game #2 – W 72-10 vs Charleston Southern

USC handed the reigns over to QB Ryan Hilinski and the true freshman delivered with 24-30 passing for 282 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Carolina also had three rushers with significant stat-lines on the day: RB Kevin Harris posted a staggering stat line of 6 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns, RB Mon Denson had  9 carries for 118 yards and one touchdown, and RB Rico Dowdle had 87 yards on 10 rushes with two touchdowns. The offense as a whole put up 775 yards on the day, while the defense held the Bucs to only 253 total yards.

Game #3 – L 47-23 vs #2 Alabama

Carolina played a respectable first half of football before being outpaced in the second half. The secondary surrendered 444 yards passing and five touchdowns through the air to Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa as the Tide rolled.

Game #4 – L 34-14 at Missouri

Mizzou got off on the right foot with one of the oddest touchdowns you’ll ever see. Hilinski had a pass batted directly back at him in the first quarter. Instead of letting the ball go, the quarterback reacted, caught the ball and attempted to down the football. However, since he caught the batted passes, it became a live ball so while he must’ve of thought he was killing the play, his lateral into the end zone turned into Mizzou’s first touchdown.

Game #5 – W 24-7 vs Kentucky

RB Tavien Feaster and RB Rico Dowdle each rushed for over 100 yards on the evening as Carolina mercilessly dominated an inept Kentucky offense. The Cocks opened the game with a touchdown drive while the Cats were shutout into the fourth quarter. The defense’s near-flawless effort ended Carolina’s five-game losing streak to Kentucky.

Game #6 – W 20-17 at #3 Georgia (2 OT)

The upset of the 2019 season to this point gave head coach Will Muschamp his signature win at Carolina. Georgia QB Jake Fromm has thrown zero interceptions on the season to defenders not named CB Israel Mukuamu; Mukuamu, however, picked off three passes on the day and took the first Fromm interception to the house. South Carolina lost Hinlinski to a knee injury in the middle of the game and played limited offense down the stretch, but they kept making plays and found a way to win in double overtime after a missed field goal by Georgia.

Head Coach

Former Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp took over in Columbia in 2016 a season after Steve Spurrier retired. The Spurrier era created a whole new level of expectations for success in Columbia. Luckily for Muschamp, the expectations left by the Spurrer era in Columbia were quite different than the expectations created by the Spurrier era in Gainesville.

Muschamp may not have worked out at UF, but he was a likable coach. Even though the change was necessary, it was sad to see him go. Florida fans were spoiled by Spurrier and Meyer and hiring a coach for his first head coaching gig (a lesson not learned from Zook) doesn’t seem to work out well at UF.

A celebratory postgame Muschamp interview talking up his “progrum” after a big win is always a sight to behold.

He’s one of the few head coaches in America that looks as if he just took off his helmet and finished playing. The tone is a mix between exhaustion and excited joy and he is usually good for a solid line about how hard his team fights.

Offensive Outlook

Key players:

  • QB Ryan Hilinski (FR)
  • RB Rico Dowdle (SR)
  • RB Tavien Feaster (GRAD SR)
  • WR Bryan Edwards (SR)
  • WR Shi Smith (JR)
  • C Donnell Stanley (RS SR)


QB Ryan Hilinski stepped in for QB Jake Bentley after the North Carolina loss and has played well as a true freshman.

Hilinski’s older brother, Tyler, a quarterback at Washington State, committed suicide in January 2018. Sports Illustrated wrote an in-depth piece on the family’s search for answers.

College GameDay featured Ryan Hilinski’s journey from California to South Carolina after the loss of his brother.

If Hilinski’s knee injury from the Georgia game flares up and he can’t go, backup QB Dakereon Joyner will go in his place.

Running Back

Carolina boats the fifth-best rushing attack in the SEC, averaging just under 200 yards per game.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – AUGUST 31: Tavien Feaster #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs for a touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Belk College Kickoff game at Bank of America Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – AUGUST 31: Tavien Feaster #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs for a touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Belk College Kickoff game at Bank of America Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

A senior group of running backs has led the way for the Gamecocks.

RB Rico Dowdle has started each game and has 77 carries for 449 yards to go along with four touchdowns. He has two 100-yard performances under his belt this season and eight 100-yard games over his 24 career starts.

Clemson grad transfer RB Tavien Feaster has led the team in rushing twice this season. He has carried the ball 57 times for 317 yards and has three touchdowns. Feaster scored 18 touchdowns in 12 starts over a 47 game career at Clemson.

RB Mon Denson is the clear third option in the group and has only registered carries in mop-up duty against Charleston Southern and Kentucky.

Since the Gators are missing some key pieces along the defensive front, DC Todd Grantham may focus his efforts on bringing extra pressure today to shut down the Carolina run game.

Wide-Receiver/Tight End

WR Bryan Edwards is the number one option in the South Carolina passing attack. The senior from Conway, SC, has caught a pass in all 44 games in which he has appeared, a new school record.

WR Shi Smith (JR) is second on the team with 23 catches for 234 yards

WR Josh Vann has 13 catches on the year and WR Chavis Dawkins only has five catches.

Junior Kyle Markway is a 6’4″, 250 LBS tight end that is third on the team with 15 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

William & Mary transfer TE Nick Muse has 11 receptions for 99 yards on the year after hauling in 30 passes for 453 yards last season for the Tribe.

TE Chandler Farrell made the position switch from center during fall camp but serves primarily as a blocking tight end.

Offensive Line

Left Tackle, Sadarius Hutcherson  (RS JR, 6’4″, 320 LBS)

  • 20 consecutive starts
  • Moved to tackle after playing guard in 2018

Left Guard, Jordan Rhodes (RS SO, 6’4″, 330 LBS)

  • Started five consecutive games

Center, Donnell Stanley (RS SR, 6’3″, 325 LBS)

  • Moved back center after starting the season at left guard
  • 19 consecutive starts

Right Guard, Jovaughn Gwyn (RS FR, 6;2″, 305 LBS)

  • Started five consecutive games

Right Tackle, Jaylen Nichols (FR, 6’5″, 320 LBS)

  • RT Dylan Woonum (6’5″ 310 LBS) was a Freshman All-American last season but has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
  • Nicholas made his first start in place of Woonum against Kentucky

Defensive Breakdown

Key players:

In the last three games, the Carolina defense has played up to Muschamp’s standard. They were only responsible for 20 points against Missouri, gave up only a touchdown to Kentucky while holding the Cats under 100 yards passing, and held Georgia to 17 points while not allowing a first down in to the Dawgs in either overtime period last week.

Defensive Line

The strength of the Carolina defense.

DL Javon Kinlaw (SR) is a 6’6″, 310 LBS force who will likely be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in April.

Kinlaw has 18 tackles, an SEC-leading five sacks, three quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries, and a blocked kick in a pear tree. He was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after his performance at Georgia.

BUCK D.J. Wonnum from Stone Mountain, GA, has 11 tackles on the season and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after the Kentucky game. Wonnum posted five tackles, forced a fumble and had three sacks. The senior has been awarded an SEC weekly honor four times in his career.

Wonnum has 22 tackles this season to go along with 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

According to the South Carolina Communications department,  “Kobe Smith (6-2, 300) is a ‘glue guy’ in the middle of the line and has recorded 16 tackles.”

DE Aaron Sterling (JR) has been a solid contributor up front this season with three sacks.

South Carolina is currently the only SEC school to have at least three players with three or more sacks this season.


LB T.J. Brunson and LB Sherrod Greene bring a ton of experience to this group.

Brunson has made 250 tackles in his career. The senior made 106 tackles last season and has picked up where he left off with 44 tackles so far in 2019 after shifting back to the WILL.

Greene, a junior from Rocky Mount, NC, started every game last season and has recently regained a starting spot after beginning the season as a backup.

LB Ernest Jones (SO) starts at the MIKE and leads the SEC with 50 tackles that included a 12 tackle performance against Georgia last week.

LB Eldridge Thompson (RS-SR), LB Damani Staley (JR), and Jahmar Brown (FR) should all see some playing time against the Gators.


The 2018 Gamecocks only had six interceptions on the year, but Carolina has already had eight picks in 2019.

DB Israel Mukuamu is a 6’4″ defensive back who haunts Jake Fromm’s dreams.

Aside from Mukuamu’s three interceptions last week, the sophomore from Bossier City, LA, ranks third on the team with 37 tackles, including  an 11 tackle output in the win at Georgia.

DB J.T. Ibe transferred in from Rice and has 19 tackles in five games.

CB Jaycee Horn had seven tackles against Georgia and has a team-leading six pass breakups (PBUs) and two forced fumbles and is known as the team’s top cover corner.

R.J. Roderick (SO) should see action at both nickel and safety today and is the fourth on the team with 29 tackles.

A couple of true freshmen have also been strong contributors this season: DB Jammie Robinson and DB John Dixon.

Special Teams

K Parker White (RS-JR) almost cost his team the game after missing a short field goal in the first overtime last week. White redeemed himself with a make in the second overtime.

P Joseph Charlton (SR) is one of the best punters in the SEC. He ranks second in the country in punting average with 48.8 yards per punt. Against Kentucky, Charlton earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after booting a 65-yarder and averaging 51.2-yards over nine punts.

Expect the senior to have success pinning the Gators deep. He has has 16 punts downed inside the 20-yard line with only three touchbacks.

dark. Next. The Gators defense vs. South Carolina's offense

No. 9 Florida will take on South Carolina at noon at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.