Loucheiz Purifoy finally saw action at receiver during No. 2 Florida’s 44-11 victory against No. 7 South Carolina on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The former Pensacola High playmaker blew by the cornerback covering him on a straight go route, but UF quarterback Driskel underthrew him, which allowed the defender to break up the pass.
Purifoy, a cornerback and gunner extraordinaire on the punt team as Muschamp pointed out, lined up at receiver early in the season. He has practiced at the position, but this was the first time he was targeted on a pass.
“That’s what I did in high school,” Purifoy said of getting his shot to play offense. “It excites me.”
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was upset he missed the open Purifoy, saying he should have “got a little more air under” the ball to allow Purifoy to run underneath it.
A win against Georgia next Saturday in Jacksonville would give the Gators the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title, with only Missouri remaining in league play. The SEC Championship is at 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
At the end of the fist half, Florida had more than twice as many penalty yards (five penalties for 65) than it had total yards (29).
A pair of personal foul penalties on USC’s second drive made up 30 of those yards and led to a field goal for the Gamecocks’ first points. The Gators defense had forced a punt but a roughing the snapper penalty on freshman Antonio Morrison gave Gamecocks the ball back.
There also was a personal foul called on linebacker Jelani Jenkins when he hit Connor Shaw in the head after Shaw had slid feet first to avoid contact.
The Gators settled in during the second half with just two more penalties for nine yards while churning out 154 yards offensively.
Muschamp was hot coming off of the field at halftime. He argued with the officials, perhaps about one of the aforementioned penalties, and was ignored. He then was asked, as he always is, for a comment by Gator IMG Sports Network sideline reporter Brady Ackerman.
“We just got to capitalize on what we’re doing AND OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” Muschamp said, shouting the last half much louder than the first as he motioned with his right hand toward the officials.
After the sixth-largest crowd in the history of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium helped energize Florida during a 14-6 win against then-No. 4 LSU on Oct. 6, the fifth-largest crowd of 90,833 packed in The Swamp for Saturday’s win.
Purifoy said the loaded crowd deserves an assist on the Gators forcing South Carolina’s offense into a pair of three-and-outs
“It was real big because of our crowd — it’s hard to play out there,” Purifoy said. “When the crowd’s in it and we’re in it, it’s hard to get the calls off — it’s hard to do a lot, so that just swung momentum even further.”
Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be an injury to his right hamstring. He did not return.
Receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle) did not dress. Neither did defensive back Cody Riggs (foot), Matt Patchan (pectoral) and deep snapper Drew Ferris (clavicle). Ronald Powell is also still on crutches after having a second knee surgery earlier this month.
Riggs jogged onto the field and seemed to be walking without much of a limp. He may be back in the next week or so if that is any indication of his status.
True freshman tight end Colin Thompson still sported a boot on his right foot.
• South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw was one of the more efficient passers in the nation with just 18 incompletions in his first five games. He’s had 26 incomplete passes in the past two games combined, with 15 during a 23-21 loss at LSU a week ago and 11 against Florida on 9 of 20 passing.
• Florida’s Shariff Floyd blocked a field goal, giving the Gators two in as many games. It’s the eight blocked field goal in 20 games under Muschamp and Floyd’s second for his career.
• A Gators opponent blocked a PAT and returned it to the opposite end zone for the first time since 1990. USC’s Byron Jerideau was credited with the block and Victor Hampton had the long return. By rule, the Gamecocks were credited with two points.
• UF backup quarterback Tyler Murphy lined up at receiver for a few snaps when Trey Burton took snaps in the wildcat formation.
• In the first half, Florida’s gymnastics team was honored for winning its eighth SEC Championship this past spring and second in as many years. The UF women’s track team also was recognized at the end of the first quarter.