Saturday November 15, 2014; 12 Noon ET
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida Field
TV: SEC Network
The game Saturday between Florida and South Carolina could be the pivotal game in the current career of the two coaches involved. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks have five losses on the season and have to win two of three of their remaining games just to be bowl eligible. This Gamecock squad was picked to win the SEC East before the season and has struggled almost every week of the year.
The struggles have brought on questions in the media about Spurriers tenure in Columbia and whether that tenure could be ending with the tough season on the 69-year old coach. Spurrier of course was his typical cryptic self with the questions, but losing is not something that he tolerates very easily and you have to think the season is wearing on the ball coach.
Meanwhile Florida head coach Will Muschamp has seemingly picked himself off of the floor after a 3-3 start that saw the worst game of his four year tenure happen with the loss of Missouri three games ago followed directly by the absolute strongest win in his career with the mauling of hated SEC rival Georgia. The Gators then followed that gam up with a strong performance on the road against Vanderbilt on the road.
The thought process here is that a change at quarterback with freshman Treon Harris at the helm is hopefully the reason for the climb out of the offensive cellar and that they will continue to climb with Harris in the lead spot.
It is very possible that a slip back into what we saw of this team early in the season would be all it would take for Muschamp to be right back in a place where he doesn't want to be. A big win on Saturday and it would seem very likely that he has completely climbed out of any job security issues for this season.
The match ups in the game certainly warrant a lot of attention. The South Carolina offense is one of the best in the conference and is balanced with a terrific passing game and the typical strong Spurrier ground game that can eat up yards late after the Gamecocks have a lead. But, Mike Davis has been a nuisance for Florida for years now and is a big worry along with the rest of the backs on the roster. Florida will definitely set to stop the run first.
But, Spurrier loves to pass and the Gators have been susceptible to the big play in the passing game on defense. Quarterback Dylan Thompson is dangerous and has a bevy of fleet receivers to throw to. It is the kind of offense Spurrier can have fun with.
Then there is the other side of the ball. South Carolina is 108th in total defense and 112th in rushing defense this season. They have been burned late in games because of a very young defense that can't get off the field.
Florida will no doubt want to exploit that rushing defense, but they will also have to be aware of keeping up with the Spurrier passing game if the ball starts to get thrown around the yard a bit. If it gets into a slug fest, Treon Harris will have to be counted on to do some damage like he was needed a week ago.
The last two offensive performances were two of the best in the Muschamp coaching era, three strong offensive performances will be something very new around Gainesville at least for the last five years.
Turnovers will be key here and I see Florida actually forcing some in the passing game. Spurrier likes to pick apart zone defenses, but the gators under Muschamp play man a great deal. They are going to have to rely on some young corners that have recently stepped up their game. The offense will have to be balanced and not just lean on the run and the confidence that Harris has achieved in the last two weeks certainly goes both ways with the staff and their confidence in him. With that said, I see the gators continuing to play well on offense and have to outscore the gamecocks, I will take the Gators 38-27.
Below you will find all of our content for the week as the Gators prepared for this big SEC match up.Video: Pittman wants to win for the fans in The SwampNice visitor list for Saturday Video: Hargreaves is ready for early kickoff
Podcast: Gators and More with Jack Jackson Thoughts of the day; Nov. 14 Taking back The swamp Thoughts of the day; Nov. 13 Rapid Recap: South Carolina Week (11/12) Gators are healthy and gaining confidence
Florida secondary preparing for the deep ball Thoughts of the day; Nov. 12> Driskel wants to help the Gators Roper compares Harris to former NFL QB Thoughts of the day; Nov. 11 Podcast: Gators and more; Nov. 10 Garcia excels after offseason transition Toughness from Harris gives Gators a spark Gators offense progressing, should get better Thoughts of the day, Nov. 10