Getting ready for Florida; plus, the bigger takeaways from Deebo Samuel’s return in 2018

South Carolina football-Will Muschamp

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Letdown vs. Florida? Don’t count it

A week after a hard-fought loss to No. 1 Georgia, do South Carolina fans have to worry about the Gamecocks coming out flat against the Florida’s Gators on Saturday? Not according to Hale McGranahan of SEC Country.

“I don’t think the Gamecocks will come out sluggish or anything like that,” McGranahan wrote. “They’ll be ready to roll against Florida at noon on Saturday. They’re pretty excited about coming back home and finishing with three games at Williams-Brice. That was apparent in the guys who spoke to reporters on Tuesday.”

South Carolina lost to Florida, 20-7, last season in Gainesville in quarterback Jake Bentley’s first road start.

A good sign

Beyond his impact on the field, wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s return to the Gamecocks in 2018 also speaks volumes about the state of the program, according to South Carolina coach Will Muschamp.

“I think that says a lot about our program, to have a guy like Bryson Allen-Williams and Deebo Samuel, guys that are excited about coming back to South Carolina,” Muschamp said. “They see what we’re building. They see what’s happening. They see the support that we have and they want to be Gamecocks, and that’s exciting.”

The redshirt junior made 15 catches for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 2 kickoff return touchdowns and 1 rushing score in three games this season.

‘I always will have an affection for Florida’

Despite being ousted after four seasons in Gainesville, Muschamp still has a soft spot for the Gators.

“I always will have an affection for Florida,” the second-year South Carolina coach told reporters on Tuesday. “I had a wonderful experience there, regardless of how things ended. I don’t look at things that way. I had a great opportunity.”

Muschamp had a 28-21 record in Gainesville. In 2011, his best season at Florida, Muschamp led the Gators to a 11-1 regular-season record and Sugar Bowl berth.

On the mend

South Carolina safety D.J. Smith is working through a hip injury sustained against Georgia.

The senior went to the locker room in the first half following a cut block but later returned to finish the game with 6 total tackles.

Though he didn’t practice Tuesday, Smith is confident he’ll play on Saturday.

New nonconference series

The South Carolina men’s basketball team will play a home-and-home series with ACC power Virginia starting in 2018, the Gamecocks announced on Tuesday.

The Cavaliers will visit Columbia on Dec. 19, 2018, and the Gamecocks head to Charlottesville on Dec. 18, 2019.

Virginia won the ACC regular-season title in 2014 and 2015, and the conference tournament in 2015. The Cavaliers have been to the NCAA Tournament five of the last six years.

Big man on campus

Four-star center D.J. Burns was on campus Sunday for the Gamecocks’ exhibition game against Virginia Tech.

“It was a lot of fun. Their team is really young and [it] was good to see them trying to work through everything,” Burns said. “Basically, it was a good test to see their players coming along — really, their team is growing as a team. They’re learning how to play together, basically. A lot of new guys — they’re gelling. It’s fun to see how they’re gelling together.”

The York, S.C., native is rated as the No. 57 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Three’s company

Looks like 4-star JUCO cornerback Saivion Smith will be joining 2018 defensive ends K.J. Henry and Jarrett Jackson in Columbia for an official visit this weekend.

Originally signing with LSU out of high school, Smith was rated as the No. 50 overall prospect for 2016 by 247Sports.

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