Scouting Florida’s 2020 opponents: Game 5 — South Carolina

South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Editor’s note: While we have no idea when college football will start, we are bringing you a look at each of the 12 opponents Florida has scheduled to play.

Today: South Carolina.

When: Oct. 3, TBD.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Last year: The Gamecocks somehow beat Georgia in overtime and that win put their record at 3-3. The next week, they lost a fourth-quarter lead against Florida and finished the season with five losses in the last six games. The offense was the biggest problem, as South Carolina finished 95th in the nation and only had 12 TD passes all season. 

Outlook for 2020: You may be surprised by this, but Will Muschamp is on the hot seat. Last year’s bowl-less 4-8 season and an unimaginative offense forced him to change coordinators by bringing in Mike Bobo, who was fired at Colorado State. The Gamecocks lost many of their playmakers, but do have quarterback Ryan Hilinski, four of five offensive line starters and a typical Muschamp defense. The schedule is brutal in November with Georgia, LSU and Clemson.

Best offensive player: It’s difficult to find one and may turn out to be true freshman tailback MarShawn Lloyd. But we’ll go with receiver Shi Smith, who had 43 catches a year ago despite missing two games. At 5-foot-10, he’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he has the speed to get behind defenses.

Best defensive player: Middle linebacker Ernest Jones is exactly the kind of defender Muschamp looks for to build a defense around. He had 97 tackles last year, which was 20 more than any other Gamecock, and 5.5 sacks. 

Fun fact: This will be the earliest in the season (assuming it is played as scheduled) that Florida has played South Carolina. The teams have only played seven times in October with the previous earliest game being Oct. 10 in 1936.

Quote: “There is some cautious optimism because last year was considered to be just one of those bad years and the schedule is a little easier, especially early. But Muschamp needs to be bowl eligible by Nov. 1.” — David Cloninger, Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier.