South Carolina has blown leads in the fourth quarter in three of their SEC losses. Head coach Steve Spurrier voiced his aggravation with losing games with a late lead.
“We’ve lost our fair share of the close ones, one or two close ones earlier. Anytime you lose some close ones and one play determines a game it is frustrating for coaches. That’s just the way we are right now, but hopefully it’s going to improve soon.”
Despite being ranked last in the league in total defense, the Gamecocks are fifth in the SEC in total offense, including second in passing offense. Florida head coach Will Muschamp says they feature a high-powered attack.
“Offensively, they’ve been outstanding this year. They’re the best offense we’ve faced in my opinion to date this season. Dylan Thompson is playing very well. He has 22 touchdown passes. Really throwing the ball well. They’re a talented group outside. They’ve got Pharoh Cooper who does it all. He lines up and plays wildcat, quarterback, speed sweeps. They run it with him or they throw it to him. He is a talented football player.”
The Gamecocks also have a solid backfield led by junior tailback Mike Davis, who leads the team in rushing with 819 yards. UF defensive coordinator, D.J. Durkin, gives praise to their efficiency in the run game.
“They run it really well. They do a great job up front of getting a hat on a hat. There’s not many missed assignments in their run game. They block up the box and they got good backs, back there, carrying the ball.”
The Gators also boast a formidable rushing attack, which they relied on heavily against Georgia. But, the passing game was put on display against Vanderbilt last weekend. Freshman quarterback Treon Harris threw for a career high 215 yards and 49 rushing yards to go along with two touchdowns on the ground.
“He does have a calm demeanor,” UF offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said. “He does a good job with his vision and buying a little time and moving in the pocket. And just making plays.”
Speaking of Harris, Gamecocks’ play-by-play announcer, Todd Ellis, thinks one of the keys to victory for USC will be limiting Harris in the passing game.
“They have to win the time of possession by 10 minutes over the Gators. We have to get a defensive score or a special teams score. Or a free play that we’ve rarely gotten, and get some benefit from the Gators. And Treon Harris has got to be less than or right at 50 percent completing passes.”
The last two games in The Swamp have not been pretty for the home team. The last one being a blowout loss to Missouri 42-13. UF hasn’t won a home game since Sep. 13 when they beat Kentucky 36-30 in a triple overtime thriller.
“Our fans do deserve something to cheer for at The Swamp,” center Max Garcia said. “We gotta defend it. The Swamp is a place where other teams should fear coming into. Gators only get out alive. We gotta make that happen again.”
South Carolina has only beaten Florida ONCE in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the history of the series. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson hopes to keep it that way.
“Now being able to come back and play a big game in The Swamp. We want to come out with the ‘W’ and just get it back, reclaim it.”
Kickoff for Florida’s SEC finale against the Gamecocks is set for noon on Saturday, with pregame coverage starting at 8 a.m. on ESPN 850 WRUF.
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