Shaw's legs could create problems

The Gators have passed their first two tests against running quarterbacks this season, but there's another one looming on Saturday in South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw. The junior quarterback combines with running back Marcus Lattimore to give the Gamecocks a versatile rushing attack. It's a tough one for the Florida defense to prepare for this week in practice.

"You have to take care of the edges for a quarterback who can get outside as this guy certainly can," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "Some of the time it's scheme and some of the time it's really having the players know the awareness of who you are going against."

It's not a typical Steve Spurrier offense in Columbia. Connor Shaw has gained 365 yards and one touchdown on the ground this season. South Carolina will even show packages that feature the quarterback run. Shaw is averaging 12.7 carries per game this season.

When he doesn't hand it off, there's also Marcus Lattimore behind him to attract attention from the defense. It's a tough situation to prepare for in practice.

"Not only do they have a mobile QB, they also have a quarterback-running game package, where there are some direct quarterback runs and those kinds of things," Quinn said. "You have to do a really good job of setting the edges, because sometimes when you face a guy who has the speed to get outside he'll break contain, and then try to create a play that way.

"That dual-threat certainly is something we have to work hard on in practice. Fortunately, our QBs can run, so when we get a chance to go against them we know what that feels like."

The first in-game test by a running quarterback came on September 8 in College Station. Aggies freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, who currently leads the SEC in rushing yards by a player of any position, torched the Gators on the ground in the first half of the game.

In the second half, the Aggies' attack was slowed because the Gators stayed more disciplined in their gaps on the defensive line. They learned their lesson from it. Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers ran for 43 yards against the Gators in 2011, but last weekend in Nashville, the Florida defense held him to 11 positive yards on the ground.

It's a lesson Quinn hopes his defense has learned before facing the athletic Shaw on Saturday in The Swamp.

"When you go through their history of their season, he really converts a lot on third down with the way he runs," Quinn said. "I don't think it was that abnormal for him—the way he can convert on third down. Their whole season he's really made plays. The guy is a winner, he's a competitor and he's tough. He's one of those guys that continually find ways to get the job done. That's why he has our respect."

The Gators will also see a different passing game from the Gamecocks. It features short but electric receivers in the passing game like Bruce Ellington and Ace Sanders.

Lattimore actually leads the Gamecocks with 22 receptions on the year. Ellington and Sanders are both tied with 17, with Ellington gaining 265 yards and two touchdowns while Sanders has 159 yards and four touchdowns. Despite the lack of size, Quinn knows his secondary has to be ready for a test.

"You have to know the player in terms what they can do best," Quinn said. "This might not be a guy that's going to go up and catch it down in the red area maybe like they've had, but it's a different style. Can they catch the screen and go? And how do I make sure I stay on top of the guy? Or how we'll handle a certain player.

Ellington is listed at 5-9 while Sanders is listed at 5-8. Sophomore wide receiver Damiere Byrd, who is the receiver with the third most receptions on the team, is listed at 5-9. It will be key for the long, lanky members of the Florida secondary to get their hands on the South Carolina receivers at the line of scrimmage to slow down their speed.

"The size matchup may be different," Quinn said. "We certainly recognize that they have some guys that can really go. That'll be important for us this week to be able to match up with those guys and play that. When you go against our offense in practice and get a chance to work against some of our guys who have quickness and speed, it gives you the ability to do that."

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