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Gamecocks get 'new opportunity' to avenge last year's Florida loss


South Carolina players don’t like to talk about it much, but they sure do remember last year’s game against Florida in the Swamp.

They may not remember the minute details, but there’s one thing that’s readily available when asked about it.

Donell Stanley || Photo by Chris Gillespie
Donell Stanley || Photo by Chris Gillespie

“They ran the ball up and down the field,” Ernest Jones said, the smile wiping away from his face. “They came back and they ran the ball some more. That’s what I remember, 300 yards rushing.”

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Last year’s game against the Gators looked in the bag halfway through the third quarter with the Gamecocks up 31-14, but things quickly turned with Florida scoring the final 21 points of the game for a 35-31 win.

They did it on the back of 367 yards rushing, averaging almost six yards per carry.

When a team does something like that, it’s hard to forget it and hard not to take it a little personal.

“For me, every game is personal, but for them to run the ball like that it was like a punch in the gut,” Javon Kinlaw said. “It’s a new year and a new opportunity.”

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But, like Kinlaw said, it’s a new team and two completely different looking teams compared to last year’s November game in Gainesville.

Florida comes to Williams-Brice as a top 10 team for the first time since 2009 and doing it not with the run game but with the SEC’s third-best passing offense this season averaging 288.3 yards per game through the air.

They average just 140.7 yards on the ground, which is good for 12th in the SEC. The Gamecocks have the SEC’s ninth-best rush defense and 12th-best pass defense.

The defense has been a lot better the last two games against Georgia and Kentucky, allowing just 4.1 yards per rush, 4.6 yards per completion and 4.3 yards per play their last two games, both wins.

The biggest reason for that has been the play of both lines, which is something Florida dominated last year in the Swamp and the Gamecocks are hoping to change this year.

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“They’re going to come up with a good scheme and a good game plan,” Donell Stanley said. “We need to control the line of scrimmage a lot. Last year, that was a tough pill to swallow. It still haunts me to this day. I’m ready to get out there again.”

While the Gators haven’t run it maybe as well as they did last year, they still run the ball quite a bit, averaging almost 34 carries per game and 4.2 yards per carry.

The Gamecocks (3-3, 2-2 SEC) still expect a commitment to the run game and hope to replicate what they did against Georgia last week on the field and on the scoreboard.

“They’re going to run the ball a lot, just like Georgia,” Sherrod Greene said. “We’ll have the same game plan to stop the run and hopefully allows us to play some other coverage.”