South Carolina leads the SEC with 18 takeaways, but suddenly the Gamecocks can’t stop giving the ball away either.
South Carolina turned the ball over four times in a 28-20 win over Florida on Saturday, twice as many times as it had in any previous game this season and half as many times as it had in the first nine games of the season combined.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley threw three interceptions against the Gators, all three of which traced back to mistakes from the quarterback position, head coach Will Muschamp said Sunday after reviewing film from the game.
“There is a fine line between trying to make a play and being smart. You don’t want to inhibit a player from making a play,” Muschamp said. “You can’t play like a robot and a lot of the plays Jake has made for us this year have been off –rhythm plays so, let’s be smart with the football but don’t be a robot either.”
Bentley is second in the SEC in passing this season, with 223.5 yards per game. He has 14 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. The Gamecocks gained a season-high 469 yards against Florida despite their four turnovers.
“We stopped ourselves more than they did,” Muschamp said. ‘If we had been able to finish some of those drives it certainly would have been a much different ball game. To be over to overcome those and win the game is a positive, but has not been an issue for us turning the ball over and it’s something we will get corrected.”
South Carolina is second in the SEC in turnover margin, behind only Alabama.
Injury Update. Freshman wide receiver Shi Smith is expected to return next week after leaving Saturday’s game after being poked in the eye. Smith’s vision was blurry Saturday, but he seems to be improving, Muschamp said. Smith, who has 23 catches for 320 yards this season, will see an opthamologist on Tuesday.
“We think he’s going to be fine,” Muschamp said.
Starting safety D.J. Smith, who sat out the Florida game due to a hip injury, is expected to play against Wofford. Defensive lineman Dante Sawyer was limited Saturday by groin and hip injuries but felt better Sunday, Muschamp said.
Players of the Game. The offensive player of the game was sophomore running back A.J. Turner, who had career highs in carries (22) and yards (136). Senior center Alan Knott was the offensive lineman of the game. Sophomore defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw was defensive player of the game. He had four tackles. Javon Charleston was the special teams player of the game, grading positively on 14 of his 15 snaps in that phase of the game.