South Carolina vs. Florida: Complete Game Preview
The newly ranked No. 2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0) will play host to the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1) in Gainesville this Saturday.
This game will be Steve Spurrier's fourth trip back to Gainesville and the 'Ole Ball Coach is 1-2 in the Swamp as the Gamecocks' head coach.
Florida has been one of the biggest surprise teams in the country this season. After a 7-6 2011 campaign, most people expected Florida to be another year or two away from being relevant nationally. Will Muschamp has the Gators ahead of schedule and playing football the old-fashioned way, with a hard-nosed physical defense and a power running game.
This is more than just another game. This matchup is a must-win for both teams and holds not only SEC implications, but national championship implications for both teams.
Let's take a look at how these two teams stack up, and everything else you need to know heading into the game on Saturday.
Game Day Information
Who: South Carolina at Florida
When: Saturday, Oct. 13, 3:30 p.m. EST
Where: Gainesville, Fla.
Stadium: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
Radio: WRUF 850 AM (Gainesville), WNKT FM 107.5 (Columbia)
Live Stream: CBS Sports
ESPN's "College Gameday" will be coming to Gainesville to film their weekly show. This will be Florida's 35th appearance on the show, the most of any school in the country. Coverage will begin at 9 a.m EST on ESPNU and will continue at 10 a.m EST on ESPN.
Depth Chart for South Carolina
QB: Connor Shaw, Dylan Thompson
RB: Marcus Lattimore, Kenny Miles
FB: Qua Gilchrist, Connor McLaurin
TE: Justice Cunningham, Rory Anderson
WR: Ace Sanders, DeAngelo Smith
WR: Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd
WR: Damiere Byrd, D.L. Moore
LT: Corey Robinson, Mike Matulis
LG: A.J. Cann, Will Sport
C: T.J. Johnson, Kyle Harris
RG: Ronald Patrick, Kaleb Broome
RT: Brandon Shell, Cody Gibson
DE: Devin Taylor, Aldrick Fordham
DE: Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton
DT: Byron Jerideau, Gerald Dixon Jr.
DT: Kelcy Quarles, J.T. Surratt
Will LB: Shaq Wilson, Quin Smith
Mike LB: Reginald Bowens, Damario Jeffery
SPR: DeVonte Holloman, Sharrod Golightly
CB: Victor Hampton, Ahmad Christian
CB: Jimmy Legree, Akeem Auguste
S: Brison Williams, T.J. Gurley
S: D.J. Swearinger, Kadetrix Marcus
K: Adam Yates, Landon Ard
P: Tyler Hull, Patrick Fish
KR: Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd
PR: Ace Sanders, Victor Hampton
Depth Chart for Florida
QB: Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett
RB: Mike Gillislee, Matt Jones or Mack Brown
FB: Hunter Joyer, Trey Burton
TE: Jordan Reed, Clay Burton
F: Trey Burton, Omarius Hines
WR (X): Frankie Hammond Jr., Latroy Pittman
WR (Z): Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton
LT: D.J. Humphries or Xavier Nixon
LG: James Wilson, Ian SIlberman
C: Jonotthan Harrison, Sam Robey
RG: Jon Halapio, Jessamen Dunker
RT: Chaz Green, Kyle Koehne
DE: Dominique Easley, Jonathan Bullard
DT: Sharrif Floyd, Damien Jacobs
NT: Omar Hunter, Leon Orr
Buck LB: Lerentee McCray, Dante Fowler Jr.
Will LB: Jelani Jenkins, Antonio Morrison
Mike LB: Jon Bostic, Michael Taylor
Sam LB: Neiron Ball, Darrin Kitchens
CB: Marcus Roberson, Jeremy Brown
CB: Jaylen Watkins or Loucheiz Purifoy
FS: Josh Evans, Jabari Gorman
SS: Matt Elam, De'Ante Saunders
Nickel: Jaylen Watkins, De'Ante Saunders
Dime: Matt Elam, Brian Poole
K: Caleb Sturgis, Brad Phillips
P: Kyle Christy, Todd Fennell
KR: Andre Debose, De'Ante Saunders
PR: Andre Debose, De'Ante Saunders
Note: Xavier Nixon, James Wilson and Jon Harrison were all either injured or left the last game early. Their injuries did not let them return to the game, or in Wilson's case, travel to Nashville, but Will Muschamp listed all of them as probable for Saturday.
What Happened to the Gamecocks Last Week
South Carolina took to the road last week and came up short in Baton Rouge.
The Gamecocks struggled to get much going on offense against a very physical LSU defense. The Gamecocks managed just 211 yards and only 34 rushing yards. South Carolina was just 3-of-13 on third down while allowing LSU to convert on 11-of-19 third-down conversions.
Connor Shaw struggled throwing two interceptions and was held to -1 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
What Happened to the Gators Last Week
Florida started off slow on the road last week, but were able to hold on for the win in Nashville.
Florida, the SEC's worst passing offense, only managed to throw for 77 yards against Vanderbilt. The Commodores did a good job keying in on Mike Gillislee, holding him to just 67 yards on 3.9 yards per carry, but couldn't keep Driskel from running wild. Jeff Driskel broke a school record for rushing yards in a game, 177, and scored three times. It was Driskel's best game as a runner this season, but Florida's passing game left something to be desired.
Florida's defense allowed points to be scored in the fourth quarter for the first time all season.
Florida was bitten by the injury bug last week. James Wilson suffered an injury during the practice week and was unable to make the trip to Nashville. Xavier Nixon, Jon Harrison and Latroy Pittman were all injured during the game and unable to return. Jelani Jenkins was held out of the game after tweaking a hamstring against LSU.
What It Means for Both Teams
Sandwiched between LSU and South Carolina, Vanderbilt was a classic trap game for the Gators. Despite not playing their best game, Florida was able to come away with the win.
You would have liked to see Florida come away from the game a little healthier than they did, but Will Muschamp believes that Florida will be healthier than most think come Saturday.
South Carolina wasn't able to get the job done last week in Baton Rouge. The Gamecocks' performance didn't impress the 'Ole Ball Coach, and he was less than complimentary of his quarterback.
The Swamp should be rocking on Saturday, but South Carolina should be prepared for the rowdy crowd, having played in Death Valley last week.
Key Player for the Gamecocks
Marcus Lattimore had a coming-out party the last time he was in Gainesville.
Lattimore carried the ball a career-high 40 times for 212 yards and three scores.
LSU was able to slow down Lattimore last week, holding him to just 35 yards on 13 carries. Connor Shaw has battled injuries this season and hasn't shown the ability to win a game on his own. If South Carolina wants to win this game, Lattimore will have to carry the load and carry his team to a victory.
Key Player for the Gators
This is a tough call. It could have gone to Jeff Driskel or the defensive front seven, but in the end, Florida has shown their identity this season, so the nod goes to Mike Gillislee.
Florida is running on 69.9 percent of their offensive plays this season. While not all of that is Gillislee, he is the leading rusher on the team and second in the SEC in rushing yards per game.
Vanderbilt keyed in on Gillislee last week and that made Florida's read option more effective with Jeff Driskel keeping the ball. After Driskel's performance running last week, South Carolina will have to stay honest in the run game and focus on both Driskel and Gillislee.
LSU gave Florida a game plan to not only neutralize the Gamecock's pass rush, but to also be effective in the run game: Run the ball right at Jadeveon Clowney. For as disruptive as Clowney is as a pass rusher, he is still developing as a run stopper.
LSU was able to rush for 258 yards against the Gamecocks, and if Florida can run the ball with Gillislee and control the clock, they will be as successful as LSU running the ball.
The Gamecocks Will Win If...
They stop the run and create turnovers.
Florida has the worst passing attack in the SEC, only averaging 145 passing yards a game.
Some of that is because the Gators have been so successful running the ball that they haven't asked Jeff Driskel to throw the ball to win.
No team Florida has played has been able to slow the Gators rushing attack down enough to force Driskel to win a game with his arm. If South Carolina can do this and they can force Driskel to stay in the pocket and throw the ball, they have a chance to win this game.
The Gators Will Win If...
They run the ball effectively, stop Marcus Lattimore and control the clock.
Florida has imposed their will all season long. The Gators go into every game with the intention of running the ball and controlling the clock. So far they have been able to do that very successfully. Florida is second in the SEC in rushing (233.33 YPG) and first in the SEC in time of possession (33:53).
If Florida can run the ball effectively with Mike Gillislee and Jeff Driskel, they will win the time of possession in this game. Keeping Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore off of the field as much as possible will allow Florida's defense to stay fresh and focus on stopping Lattimore.
Marcus Lattimore's performance against the Gators two years ago was impressive, but it should be a performance that sticks out in every defensive player's mind. Florida was embarrassed by LSU in 2011, and the defense made sure to make a point of that and use it to fuel their play. Look for the Gators to bring the same level of intensity you saw against LSU.
This is a must-win game for both teams. A win in this game for the Gators would set up a virtual SEC East championship game next week against Georgia, with the winner almost guaranteed a trip to Atlanta. A loss to Florida would all but eliminate South Carolina's chances at winning the SEC East.
Florida should thank LSU for their performance last week.
The Tigers gave the Gators the blueprint on how to run the ball effectively against South Carolina. LSU lined up and ran the ball 53 times right at the Gamecocks defense. Expect Florida to do the same this week. Florida will run the ball right at Jadeveon Clowney in an attempt to neutralize South Carolina's pass rush.
Florida's defense is every bit as good as LSU's, if not better, and should be able to slow down Marcus Lattimore just like the Tigers did last week. If Shaw is asked to throw the ball to win the game, he has shown some questionable decision-making and the Gators secondary could make him pay.
Florida will run the ball effectively, slow down Lattimore and force turnovers in a game that will be close late, but eventually won by the Gators.
Florida wins 27-17