GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 22 Florida hosts South Carolina on Saturday at noon on CBS.
The last time UF hosted the Gamecocks, they upset the Gators and cost Will Muschamp his job. Two years later, Muschamp returns to The Swamp as South Carolina’s head coach.
Mike Wilson cover the Gamecocks for SEC Country and gives us a closer look at their football program.
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident do the South Carolina coaches and players seem this week?
“Well, we only get to talk to Will Muschamp as far as coaches go, but the overall feeling recently at South Carolina has been pretty confident. In the matter of a few weeks, their comments have gone from “we are close” to talking about bigger goals, like bowl games and the fact a win at Florida keeps them in the SEC East race. As for confidence in this game specifically, it’s hard to say based on comments from players this week. I can say the overall feeling has been confident of late, certainly a product of the recent three-game winning streak.”
2) What sense do you get for how Will Muschamp feels about returning to Florida and what this game means to him?
“Publicly, Muschamp has said next to nothing to indicate it’s more than another game. In reality, that just isn’t believable. It means something. How much is up to him, but his players say Muschamp downplayed going against his former team all week. Certainly, though, he wants to win in the Swamp and that send that message as a major point of pride.”
3) What is South Carolina’s biggest strength and weakness on offense?
“The biggest strength has been Jake Bentley the past three weeks, but finding balance last week against Missouri was the most important thing. I also would point to South Carolina’s tight ends. Hayden Hurst and K.C. Crosby are great mismatch guys, lining up to block and in the slot. They both are having really nice seasons. The weakness is a combination of the offensive line and run game, obviously going hand in hand. The pass blocking needs to be more consistency as well.”
4) What is South Carolina’s biggest strength and weakness on defense?
“The strength has been the defense’s ability to force turnovers. The Gameocks lead the SEC in turnover margin and the secondary is a big reason why. Cornerbacks Jamarcus King and Chris Lammons have done a great job of forcing turnovers all season. Tackling in run defense has been an issue, at times. Georgia and Missouri both took advantage of that, while Georgia did the most damage. South Carolina has to win on the defensive line more often in run defense.”
5) How do you see things unfolding Saturday?
“South Carolina hasn’t played on the road since Sept. 24 and I think that is a significant part of this game. Bentley hasn’t played on the road at all. Neither has running back Rico Dowdle. How they respond and handle it will be key. I think if the Gamecocks take care of the football — read: Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson pose a problem — they have a shot.
But I think it’s a low-scoring game and Florida is able to hit on a big run or two that makes the difference. So, here’s to a shootout!”