Scouting the Gamecocks

The Gamecocks are making the most of their opportunities on both sides of the ball.

SCOUTING THE GAMECOCK OFFENSE: Florida came out expecting South Carolina to pass last weekend, but the Gamecocks fooled the Gators by passing only 17 times, rushing for 120 yards, surviving on only 246 total yards, committing only three penalties for 20 yards and controlling the ball for 34 minutes, 10 seconds without a single turnover against a Florida team that had forced 26 turnovers this season. With improved rushing in each of the past three games, especially from RB Mike Davis, the Gamecocks are becoming more balanced, but the team still ranks 105th in the nation in total offense entering Saturday's game against Clemson.

SCOUTING THE GAMECOCK DEFENSE: The Gamecocks gave up 359 yards against Florida and may have given up more if the Gators had not committed so many penalties. Still, this is a better unit than the one that got pounded by Alabama and Auburn early in the season, as South Carolina is now first in the SEC with 31 sacks and fourth in the SEC with 18 takeaways. Overall, the Gamecocks rank 39th in the nation in total defense (86th against the run, 11th against the pass). Defensive backs Ko Simpson and Johnathan Joseph have been especially strong this year, as both are capable of making game-changing plays once the ball is in the air.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Blake Mitchell — He only completed seven of 17 passes for 126 yards against Florida but also played smart and finished without any turnovers. In addition, he likely would have completed three or four more passes for long yardage had it not been for several pass interference penalities. He'll likely get more chances to pass against Clemson.

RB Mike Davis — The Gators expected the Gamecocks to pass, but the offense made a commitment to running the ball, and Davis rushed for a career high for the third consecutive week. This time he finished with 88 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

WR Sidney Rice — He finished without a touchdown for the first time in nine games against Florida, but Rice still came through last week with five catches for 112 yards, including a 64-yard catch and run to the Florida 1-yard line. The Gamecocks scored on the next play to go ahead 27-19. It's hard to tell who is the best freshman receiver in the SEC, Rice or Vanderbilt's Earl Bennett. In fact, they might be the two best receives in the SEC at this point. Rice now leads the SEC with 830 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions and ranks third with 51 receptions.

DT Chris Tucker — The SEC defensive lineman of the week, Tucker recorded two solo tackles and a 10-yard sack and intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 48 yards through most of the Florida defense to the Florida 5-yard line, setting up Carolina's first touchdown of the game.

ROSTER REPORT: After long snapper Scott Morgan missed the Florida game due to a one-game suspension followed a DUI arrest Nov. 6, Ike Crofoot stepped in to replace him on both punt and kicks. Then Crofoot suffered a broken hand "screwing around Saturday night," according to coach Steve Spurrier, and could be out for the Clemson game. If he can't play, WR Michael Flint will snap on kicks and Morgan will return to punt snapping.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I hope we're past all that. I hope that's not even in consideration. We're not going to hate Clemson. We want to beat 'em, and we want to play the very best we can, though. We want it to be a good, clean, hard-fought game, both teams go at each other with all they got, shake hands when it's over and say, 'We'll see you guys next year.'" — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, reflecting back on last year's brawl between South Carolina and Clemson. Top Stories