South Carolina braces for No. 3 Florida’s air attack

Sports

Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts have strong opening acts to follow up when No. 3 Florida battles Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.

Trask began his senior season by passing for 416 yards and six touchdowns in a season-opening 51-35 road win over Ole Miss, while Pitts caught eight passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns.

Trask fell one touchdown pass shy of the school record shared by Terry Dean (1994 vs. New Mexico State) and Doug Johnson (1997 against Central Michigan).

Pitts, the star junior tight end, matched the school record for receiving scores held by Jack Jackson (1994 vs. New Mexico State) and Ike Hilliard (1995 against Tennessee).

There certainly is a reason why Trask repeatedly targets the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Pitts.

“He is a matchup nightmare for defenses,” Trask said. “He’s too big for cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers so it gives defenses lots of trouble and that’s what you like to see.”

Gators coach Dan Mullen liked seeing the 642 yards his offense cranked up in the opener. But he wanted to hide his eyes over the 613 his defensive unit allowed.

One of the issues for Florida (1-0, 1-0 SEC) was rustiness after preparations were different due to COVID-19 protocols. But there also were too many breakdowns.

“We have a lot of things to clean up, a lot of things we have to get better from Week 1 and Week 2,” Mullen said. “But the questions of ‘Are we playing next week? When do we play? How long’s training camp? When is this ever going to happen? Are we ever going to get to a game?’ … We got a game.”

South Carolina will be looking to pull off a stunner as it is just 2-15 all-time when visiting Gainesville. The Gators have a 28-9-3 overall edge in the series.

The Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1) also will be looking to rebound from a 31-27 setback to Tennessee.

Transfer quarterback Collin Hill passed for 290 yards and one touchdown but also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Hill followed new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo from Colorado State — Bobo was coach of the Rams — and beat out incumbent starter Ryan Hilinski for the starting job.

Hill tore the ACL in his left knee three times — in a game against Utah State in October 2016, while playing pickup basketball in March 2018, and again in a September 2019 game against Arkansas — during his Colorado State tenure.

He looked crisp and healthy against Tennessee and clicked with senior wideout Shi Smith 10 times for 140 yards and one touchdown. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said he liked what he saw.

“I thought he played well, he had a couple drops in my opinion,” Muschamp said of Hill. “The interception, I don’t know. There was an unfortunate bounce there when we could’ve got a first down on that last drive. … I thought he was accurate with the football. I thought he did a nice job.”

Defensively, junior defensive end Kingsley “J.J.” Enagbare stood out with nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Enagbare said there was no reason to panic after the season-opening setback.

“I feel like we’re right there, it’s just a matter of putting it all together because we have the pieces,” Enagbare said. “It’s just a matter of the pieces going to work. We’re going to bounce back though, best believe.”

–Field Level Media

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