Jacksonville Sports Day

LOOKING BACK: Nine Games into Season, Gamecocks Still Can’t tackle

Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

GAINESVILLE, FLA. –  For four years at Florida, Will Muschamp tried to build an offensive football team capable of imposing its will on an opponent on the ground. On Saturday, he faced that team.

South Carolina built a 17-point lead in The Swamp only to see the No. 19 Gators chase it down from behind on the strength of a dominating ground game that finished with 367 rushing yards in a 35-31 Florida victory.

It was the ninth-most rushing yards surrendered by the Gamecocks (5-4 overall, 4-4 SEC) since at least 1962, the last season for which complete records are kept.

“Can’t stop the run, going to have a hard time winning,” said Muschamp, who was fired after four years at Florida and is now 12-12 in SEC games in his third year as South Carolina’s head coach. “Got whipped up front, didn’t tackle. It was very, very frustrating.”

More so because it’s exactly the kind of football Muschamp tried to play for so long with the Gators.

“I thought we needed to have success (on the ground), and I thought we could,” first-year Florida head coach Dan Mullen said. “I love to run the ball. If we can run the ball, it opens up our whole offense.”

The Gators (7-3, 5-3) ran for 238 yards after halftime, averaging 6.4 yards per carry in the final 30 minutes. Florida finished with 528 total yards one week after Ole Miss gained 616 yards against South Carolina.

It’s the third-most yards the Gamecocks have surrendered in back-to-back games and just the fifth time in school history they have allowed back-to-back opponents more than 500 yards.

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