Florida Gators vs. South Carolina Gamecocks advanced stats review

Florida and South Carolina played a messy game in messy conditions on Saturday. The refs didn’t help, with them missing a substantial number of calls against both teams. Fortunately the numbers can help us cut through some of the mess to figure out a little of what was going on.

This review is based on Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning, and sacks are counted as pass plays. It doesn’t include the drives at the ends of the halves that ran out the clock.


Everyone has a different definition for what counts as an “explosive play”, but I go with runs of at least ten yards and passes of at least 20 yards.

Team Runs 10+ Pct. Passes 20+ Pct. Explosive Pct.
Florida 2 8.7% 4 12.1% 10.7%
South Carolina 7 17.5% 2 5.3% 11.5%

Going in, the Gamecocks had been giving up a lot more explosive runs than passes. The reverse happened, and the Gators could’ve had more if not for Kyle Trask uncorking some bad throws in the rain. Dan Mullen said after the game that he didn’t think Trask struggled with the football being wet, but he had a couple of tosses that went a mile over the target’s head. If the conditions weren’t at issue, then we got some problems.

Carolina got some long runs, especially on draws against certain alignments. Todd Grantham got a turnover off of one of those draws, baiting the Gamecocks into running it with his linebacker setup before blitzing CJ Henderson off the corner. Henderson’s presence caused Ryan Hilinski to skip handing off, at which point two Gators got him from behind and forced a fumble. They did figure it out eventually.


The main measure here is success rate. Watch this short video if you need to brush up on it.

Team Run SR Pass SR Overall SR Red Zone SR
Florida 34.8% 45.5% 41.1% 50.0%
South Carolina 45.0% 36.8% 41.0% 50.0%

In my Friday keys to the game, I observed it makes no sense that South Carolina barely runs more than it throws. They do that despite averaging more yards per play on runs than passes (counting sacks as passes) and having a rushing success rate about ten percentage points higher than its passing success rate.

Well, South Carolina ran about 51% of the time. They averaged 6.1 yards per carry and 3.8 yards per pass play. As you see here, their rushing success rate was about eight percentage points higher than their passing rate. They even hit explosive runs more often than their season-long rate of 13.3%. I really don’t understand how their play calling works.

Anyway, UF was basically a mirror image of South Carolina with success rate. The Gators once again were well under the national average in rushing SR and compensated with an above-average passing success rate.

Team 1Q SR 2Q SR 3Q SR 4Q SR
Florida 36.4% 57.1% 25.0% 42.1%
South Carolina 45.0% 7.7% 41.2% 53.6%

As is their custom under Mullen, Florida did its best offensive work in the even-numbered quarters. I guess that’s when the things he sets up get paid off.

Don’t worry too much about South Carolina’s high fourth quarter mark. The Gamecocks had short, inefficient drives early in the frame and then long efficient drives late against UF’s prevent defense late.

Efficiency by Player

Player Comp. Pct. Pass Eff. Yards/Att Sacks Pass SR
Kyle Trask 64.5% 153.2 6.3 2 45.5%
Ryan Hilinski 48.6% 98.8 4.9 3 36.8%

This was not Trask’s best game. He had some wild throws from the wet conditions, and his interception was terrible. His second pick that was wiped away for defensive holding was also bad, as he short-armed the throw and left it in a perfect spot for the defender. Even so, he stayed with it and set a career high for touchdown passes. If Florida can still beat South Carolina by a couple of scores on the road with Trask’s B- game, that’s a good sign.

It’s hard not to be impressed by Hilinski’s toughness and mettle, but he was a backup for a reason. His best days are ahead of him, especially with all this valuable experience he’s getting as a true freshman.

Player Targets Catches Yards Yards/Target SR
Kyle Pitts 6 4 23 3.8 50.0%
Freddie Swain 5 5 20 4.0 20.0%
Lamical Perine 5 2 12 2.4 40.0%
Trevon Grimes 4 2 13 3.3 50.0%
Jacob Copeland 3 3 89 29.7 100.0%
Van Jefferson 3 0 0 0.0 0.0%
Josh Hammond 2 2 18 9.0 100.0%
Tyrie Cleveland 1 1 14 14.0 100.0%
Malik Davis 1 1 5 5.0 100.0%

Pitts was on a lot of short routes, but you do wonder what he could’ve done without being held so badly. Copeland’s one misjudged pass being erased by a flag preserves his perfect day. It was nice to see a preview of what it’ll be like with him one of the primary receivers next year.

Player Carries YPC Rushing SR
Lamical Perine 10 4.1 30.0%
Dameon Pierce 7 12.4 42.9%
Kyle Trask 3 3.7 66.7%
Emory Jones 1 2.0 0.0%
Freddie Swain 1 1.0 0.0%
Malik Davis 1 0.0 0.0%

Pierce’s long run is skewing things here. Without it, he had six carries for 2.0 yards per rush and a 33.3% success rate. Perine had the better day on the ground absent that one long run, and that’s even with taking out some of the nicer runs he had while killing clock against a soft defense at the end of the second quarter.

Field Position

Team Avg. Starting Position Plays in Opp. Territory Pct. Of Total
Florida Own 33 28 50.0%
South Carolina Own 28 29 37.2%

The offense did get things going a bit in the fourth quarter, but the late touchdown drives were 52, 29, and 37 yards, respectively. Defense and special teams made plays to create good field position, and the offense was able to cash in with an assist from South Carolina committing penalties.

Finishing Drives

A trip inside the 40 is a drive where the team has a first down at the opponent’s 40 or closer or where it scores from further out than that. A red zone trip is a drive with a first down at the opponent’s 20 or closer.

Team Drives Trips Inside 40 Points Red Zone Trips Points Pts./Drive
Florida 14 6 38 2 14 2.71
South Carolina 15 5 27 4 24 1.80

The Gators got points on all of their scoring opportunities, a first against an FBS opponent this year. The five touchdowns and one field goal matches the result against Towson, in fact.

Less good is the fact they allowed South Carolina to get points on all of its scoring opportunities. The difference in the game is that Florida forced two field goal attempts to its own one and allowed one fewer scoring opportunity.


Each team forced one, and I do mean forced. South Carolina got a bad, panicked throw from Trask when Javon Kinlaw used a nifty move to get past Richard Gouraige. As I described above, Florida got a blind side hit that forced a Hilinski fumble when manipulating the Gamecocks into running a particular play. Both turned into short-field touchdowns, so they’re mostly a wash.


A week after cranking out six drives of 70+ yards in Baton Rouge, the Gators managed two of them in the rain in Columbia. One of them consisted of just one play, and it was aided by a missed false start.

They only allowed two drives of 70+ yards after giving up about 30 of them to LSU, with two of the Gamecocks’ scoring drives aided by either field position, a turnover, or both. Despite not having the best two players on the defensive front, the Florida defense did enough to hold serve until the offense began cashing in late.

Don’t discount the defense’s role, here. Special teams may have pinned the Gamecocks to their own 3-yard-line, but the defense earned the ensuing three-and-out that led to a short-field touchdown. The defense also forced the turnover and got the fourth-down stop that precipitated the other late scores.

It wasn’t a masterpiece of defense, but the point is that all three areas of the game worked together. It took until late for Florida’s offense, defense, and special teams to get in phase with each other, but once they did, they slammed the door on the Gamecocks.

This was a game UF should’ve been happy to win by one. Shorthanded in bad conditions on the road with an open date next, the task was get a win of any size by any means. They got that win. Most Florida teams of the past decade couldn’t be trusted to do so, but this one did it. For all the sloppiness and misadventures, that counts for a lot.

David Wunderlich
David Wunderlich is a born-and-raised Gator and a proud Florida alum. He has been writing about Florida and SEC football since 2006. He currently lives in Naples Italy, at least until the Navy stations his wife elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @Year2