GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Austin Appleby didn’t look like a backup quarterback, at least not in the first half against South Carolina.

Pressed into action due to a shoulder injury suffered by starter Luke Del Rio, Appleby picked the Gamecocks apart in the first half Saturday and spotted the Gators to a 14-0 lead over USC at the break. The graduate transfer from Purdue completed 11 of 14 attempts for 147 yards, and a pair of touchdowns.

South Carolina, which had won three straight games at Williams-Brice Stadium, looked a different team on the road. The Gamecocks struggled with Florida’s superior speed on both sides of the ball, missing tackles on defense and eeking out yards on offense en route to trailing for the first time since the Georgia game Oct. 9.

Appleby spotted Florida a 7-0 lead on the Gators’ opening series, getting loose for 33 yards on a carry before finding C’yontai Lewis for a six-yard score. In the second quarter he struck again, finding Ahmad Fulwood from 18 yards after the Gators had gobbled up 32 and 25 yards on a pair of big plays.

The Gamecocks, who lead the SEC in turnover margin, did manage an interception of Appleby, one of three-first half takeaways. But Florida still outgained South Carolina 257-104 over the first two quarters.

In addition to Del Rio, Florida was also missing its starting center, two starting linebackers, and a starting defensive end due to injuries. And the hits kept coming during the game: safety Marcus Maye was carted off, starting left tackle David Sharpe went down, and Florida had to go to its third-string center after Tyler Jordan had to be helped off.

In the first half against USC, though, the Gators still had more than enough. The Gamecocks were plagued by drops

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