Chomp: Florida steamrolls South Carolina & starts Vanderbilt prep; Gators flip highly-ranked QB from Hurricanes

Florida running back Trevor Etienne (7) scores an 85-yard touchdown against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey) (Matt Stamey, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.


Hi, Gator fans!

That was a fun one to watch on Saturday. And it was a great way to send out the seniors on Senior Day.

🐓 Gators run past Gamecocks

Florida become bowl eligible when the Gators rushed for 374 rushing yards — their most in a Southeastern Conference game in over a decade — on their way to a 38-6 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in The Swamp.

It was also the Gators this time winning consecutive league games for the first time in nearly two years.

Running back Montrell Johnson Jr. rushed for a career-high 161 yards and a score; running back Trevor Etienne ran for 100 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown run; and quarterback Anthony Richardson accounted 96 yards on the ground for three total touchdowns.

“It’s what we’ve done in the past. It’s what we are good at. I think you’ve got to play to the strengths of your team,” coach Billy Napier said at his news conference following the game.

GAME RECAP: Florida runs for 374, dominates South Carolina 38-6 in Swamp

Florida (6-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) dominated South Carolina (6-4, 3-4 SEC) from the start of the matchup on Senior Day, with the Gators scoring on their first four drives and leading 24-0 before the Gamecocks crossed midfield. And Florida’s defense played its best game of the season.

Now, following the last home game of the season, the focus has shifted the Richardson’s future.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Richardson said. “After the Georgia loss, we’re just trying to get the team rolling again and get back on track. I haven’t really thought about that. I’m just trying to win every game and go win the bowl game.”

In the latest Gators Breakdown episode, host David Waters recaps Florida’s sixth victory of the season.

🏆 Etienne, Torrence earn SEC honors

Running back Trevor Etienne and offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence both earned SEC Player of the Week Honors, the league office announced Monday.

Etienne was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the first time in his young career, while Torrence was named SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week, giving the AP Midseason All-American conference honors in two consecutive weeks.

Etienne and Torrence aren’t the only Gators who have been recognized by the league with player of the week honors. Cornerback Jaydon Hill earned the honors after the Gators’ 24-17 win over Missouri, and now-former linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. and Richardson earned them following Florida’s 29-26 win over Utah.

🧳 Florida traveling to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt

Florida will take on Vanderbilt in Nashville on Saturday in the Gators’ final conference game of the regular season.

This will be the first meeting between Napier and Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea as head coaches.

Vanderbilt (4-6, 1-5 SEC) is coming off a 24-21 road victory over Kentucky (6-4, 3-4 SEC) that snapped the Commodores’ 26-game SEC losing streak. The big win for the Commodores could mean this upcoming matchup could be a letdown game for them — or the boost of confidence they need.

“We’re right in the middle of the Vanderbilt prep,” Napier said at his news conference Monday. “This is a group that continues to get better. There’s no question year one to year two, Clark’s done a great job. You can see the improvement within this season. They’ve got some young players that continue to get better. Got their first SEC win in a while, and there’s some momentum that we’ll have to deal with that goes with that.”

Florida’s 42-0 win over Vanderbilt in Gainesville last season was the last time Florida shut out an opponent. Florida last traveled to Nashville in 2020 and beat the Commodores 38-17 in FirstBank Stadium. Florida owns the all-time record at Vanderbilt 20-7-1 and the overall series 43-10-2. The Gators have won the last eight meetings and have not lost to Vanderbilt on the road since 1988.

At last check, according to FanDuel Sports, the Gators are 14 ½-point favorites over the Dores.

Saturday’s kickoff is at noon, and for those not making the trip to Vanderbilt, the matchup will air on SEC Network.

Later this week, you can find David’s preview of this week’s matchup on News4JAX.com/GatorsBreakdown.

🌀 Highly-ranked QB flips from Hurricanes to Gators

Back in the summer, Florida lost a recruiting battle to Miami for quarterback Jaden Rashada. As it turns out, that recruitment was far from over, as the Gators flipped the highly-ranked signal-caller from Pittsburg, California.

Both the 247 Sports Composite and the On3 Consensus have 6-foot-4 Rashada as a four-star player and the No. 7 signal-caller in the country in the 2023 class.

Rashada on Friday posted a message on social media announcing his decision, saying, in part:

“Over the past few months, I’ve been weighing my options heavily... I have dreamed of playing SEC football since I was a little kid.

“After a lot of prayer, conversations with my family and those close to me. I have decided to change my commitment and play for the University of Florida.

“I have tremendous respect for Miami and what they are going to accomplish there but I have watched this season and Coach Napier and his team are building something very special in The Swamp and I want to be a part of it.”

He was then in Gainesville this weekend to watch the Gators’ lopsided victory.

In another episode of Gators Breakdown, David discusses the flips and what the Gators are getting with Rashada.

With the new addition, Florida’s 2023 recruiting class has 23 commitments. The 247 Sports Composite and the On3 Consensus have the Gators at No. 8 in the recruiting team rankings nationally and fourth in the SEC.

🏀 Florida men’s basketball gets 2nd win, hosts FAU next

Forward Colin Castleton scored 33 points and had nine rebounds in Florida’s 88-78 win over Kennesaw State at home on Friday night.

It was the Gators’ second win of the season.

Guard Kowacie Reeves hit two clutch 3-pointers down the stretch. Reeves’s 3-pointer with 3:08 left gave the Gators a 15-point lead, 83-68. Owls Guard Brandon Stroud hit two 3-pointers and scored at the basket to cut the deficit to 10 points with 1:20 left, but Kennesaw State (1-1) could get no closer.

“We scored 88. I thought we did a good job. Again, playing with purpose. They zoned us a little bit in the first half there but not enough to really worry about. We thought we had an advantage inside tonight. We didn’t think they had a guy that could really bother Colin [Castleton] enough. We prepared for them to double team us, and if they would’ve done that I think, well they tried a little bit, but we were able to throw out and do a good job of attacking that and not turning the ball over. We ended up with 11 turnovers. I think our turnover rate was a little below 15, which is our goal,” said coach Todd Golden. “Offensively, I think we played well enough and with a purpose. We only shot 11 threes. [Kowacie Reeves] hit some big threes in the second half. Did a good enough job of making our free throws, 72% a little above average, I’ll take that. Overall, offensively, I’ll take how we played.”

The Gators shot 30 of 55 from the field (54.5%) and were 24 of 33 from the line.

On Monday, Florida (2-0) hosts Florida Atlantic (1-1), with tipoff at 7 p.m.

The Owls got an 81-46 home win over Lynn in their first game of the season, followed by an 80-67 loss on the road to Ole Miss.

🖋️ Forward Thomas Haugh signs with Gators

Florida men’s basketball has signed Thomas Haugh to its 2023 class.

Haugh is a 6-foot-9 forward from New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and attends Perkiomen School in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania.

“We are very excited to add Thomas to our program here at the University of Florida,” Golden said. “Thomas embodies many of the qualities we look for when recruiting student-athletes. He’s selfless, has a great attitude, and values the tradition and history of our program. On the floor, he’s a 6-foot-9 hybrid skilled forward that can dribble, pass, and shoot. He can defend multiple positions and has a great basketball IQ. He will be a great addition to our program!”

Haugh will join the Gators as a freshman next year.

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About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.