Deflating loss to South Carolina drops Dan Mullen's Florida Gators to 4-5: 'I didn't see it coming'

Big Man TD! Jabari Ellis takes in scoop-and-score (0:48)

South Carolina defensive lineman recovers the fumble and takes it for the touchdown. (0:48)

Florida continued its downward spiral Saturday night, losing 40-17 to host South Carolina -- its worst loss to the Gamecocks in school history.

Gators coach Dan Mullen said afterward that his roster had been depleted during the week because of the flu, noting that anywhere between 20 to 30 players missed practice. He said quarterback Emory Jones tested positive for the flu Saturday morning, and the Gators had several players not make it off the team bus to play because they felt sick.

Regardless, Mullen expressed his disappointment in the result multiple times and seemed deflated in his brief postgame remarks. Florida made nobody else available for comment.

"I didn't see it coming. I'm obviously really disappointed," Mullen said. "Wasn't seeing the game play out this way, so very disappointed. I know our players are very disappointed."

Florida has lost three straight games and four of its past five to drop to 4-5 -- the first time under Mullen that the Gators have had a losing record.

But this performance against the Gamecocks might be a new low. South Carolina went into the game averaging 20.9 points per game and started FCS transfer Jason Brown at quarterback -- his first start in an FBS game.

Once again, the Florida defense did little to slow down the opposition as South Carolina gained 459 yards. But the Gators' running game, among the best in the country, mustered only 82 yards on the ground. And Florida turned the ball over multiple times, including a fumble by Jones that led to a scoop-and-score touchdown to give South Carolina a 30-10 lead just before the half.

Mullen said he thought his players kept playing hard, even after the game got out of hand.

"I certainly don't think we gave up," he said. "I give our guys credit. They faced a lot of adversity and then continued to battle.

"They're going to work, they're going to fight, and they're going to give everything they have, and we as coaches got to do a better job to put them in the positions to be successful."

Asked how they would do that, Mullen said: "It's not one little thing. If you go look throughout the season, there's a lot of little things that have gone wrong. We're not doing the things you need to do to play winning football. We did that early in the season, but you can't not control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and then you're turning the ball over in other situations. That's not a recipe for success."