Josh Kendall

Kendall’s pick: Gamecocks need win to keep good mood going

South Carolina’s football team is having more fun than it did in the first half of the season. It’s not yet winning more games than it did in the first half.

That’s going to need to change if the fun is going to continue. The Gamecocks (3-6, 1-6 SEC) made valiant efforts against Texas A&M and Tennessee but couldn’t break through. Their next chance comes Saturday against a Florida Gators team that is a 7.5-point favorite.

South Carolina’s offense has averaged 418 yards per game in the last three games after averaging 342 yards per game before the coaching transition. The Gamecocks have inched up the conference rankings in total offense, but Saturday offers a challenge this South Carolina team hasn’t seen this season – the Florida defense.

The SEC East champion Gators are second in the conference in total defense, allowing 288.8 yards per game. They allow 174.3 yards per game through the air (second best in the SEC) and 114.4 yards per game on the ground (fourth best in the SEC). Their scoring defense is the best in the conference, allowing 14.6 points per game.

That’s not comforting for a Gamecocks offense that probably needs to score at least 28 points to give its team a shot. South Carolina is allowing 31.3 points per game in SEC games this year, which is 13th in the league.

The Gamecocks have made defensive improvements of late as well, and they will hardly be facing an offensive juggernaut. Florida is ninth in the SEC in scoring with 28.6 points per game. That number goes down to 23.6 against conference opponents, and the Gators are coming off a nine-point effort against Vanderbilt.

Williams-Brice will be close to full Saturday and will be loud at least at the start. How long the fans and the team can sustain that enthusiasm will depend on if South Carolina can turn their energy into victory.

Florida 30, South Carolina 24