South Carolina lost at home to then-No. 16 Tennessee 31-27 Saturday after a late-game comeback came up short. This week, the Gamecocks will travel to Gainesville, Florida, to face the Florida Gators.
Last year, South Carolina extended its losing streak against Florida to two games after losing 38-27 on a rainy Saturday in Columbia.
Florida beat Ole Miss 51-35 Saturday. Redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Trask led the Gator offense with six touchdown passes and had 416 passing yards. Trask's primary target during the game was junior tight end Kyle Pitts, who had eight receptions for 170 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
In the running game, Florida had six players combine for 196 rushing yards. The bulk of the yards belonged to senior Kadarius Toney, junior running back Dameon Pierce and redshirt junior running back Malik Davis, who all ran for at least 49 yards.
In a press conference Tuesday, Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp said Trask is a "really good football player" with a "great pocket presence" who "feels and evades the rush extremely well" and "buys time for himself." Additionally, Muschamp said Pitts was "probably the best tight end in the country" and the best tight end the Gamecocks will face this year because his length, speed and athletic ability make him a "difficult match up guy" for the Gamecock defense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Muschamp said he has "a lot of respect" for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
"Some good cover guys on the back end; they've got good players. They've recruited good players," Muschamp said.
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jakai Moore said in a press conference Tuesday that to stop the Gator defense, the Gamecock offensive line needs to "handle it like [it handles] every other team: Just go out, execute everything."
Senior tight end Nick Muse said the South Carolina offense's confidence level is "pretty high."
"I'd probably give it an eight out of 10, but it needs to be a 10 out of 10 every Saturday, so we've got some things to work on," Muse said.
Muse said that the offense is aware of the talent the team has on the roster, saying they "know what we're capable of," and that if the team avoids miscues during the game then it's "going to be in good shape" against Florida.
Sophomore defensive back Jammie Robinson also said that Trask is "a good quarterback who can make almost any throw" and that Florida has "a pretty good offense, as well."
"We've just got to go in with a good scheme on defense, and everyone's got to play the right calls and be in the right positions, and we can come out with a win," Robinson said.
The No. 3 Gators opened up this week as 18-point favorites against the Gamecocks, according to the William Hill Sportsbook, and ESPN currently gives the Gamecocks a 10.7% chance to beat Florida. While Vegas and the experts at ESPN are predicting a large Florida victory this Saturday, student opinion is a little more optimistic.
Second-year sport and entertainment management student Austin Timmermann said the Gamecock offense looked "a lot more profound and structured" last week and said in order to defeat Florida, South Carolina needs to "clean up the little things" and ensure that it has "a solid game plan."
Cameryn Coursen, a third-year sport and entertainment management student, said she wants to remain positive, but "Florida is a lot tougher than Tennessee."
River Wells, the sports editor for the Independent Florida Alligator, said he thinks senior receiver Shi Smith could be a threat to the Florida defense, whose "secondary didn't look great" against Ole Miss. Wells said he expects Florida to win Saturday, citing a "powerful" offense and a defense that "isn't great" but will do just enough to hold off the Gamecock offense.
The game will kickoff at noon on Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN.