Gearing up for South Carolina

No one is more familiar with a Steve Spurrier offense than Gator fans. This year's version hasn't been spectacular, but the Gamecocks still find themselves with the SEC's fourth best pass offense late in the season.

South Carolina averages 249 passing yards per game. It's well behind the conference's best passing offense, which resides in Lexington, but it's only five yards shy of being the second best in the SEC.

The efficiency has been a problem for the Gamecocks this season. Quarterbacks Blake Mitchell and Chris Smelley have combined for 14 interceptions (second worst in SEC) against only 16 touchdown passes.

Despite the struggles throughout the season, Mitchell is heating up after throwing for 364 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions against Arkansas last week. Last season, Mitchell had a solid performance against the Gators, completing 24-of-33 passes for 275 yards.

"We get him late in the year and he's playing pretty good," Urban Meyer said after Thursday's practice. "I've seen earlier films and you hear about guys getting shuffled in and out. By the time we get him, he's having his best game."

What scares Meyer, though, is Kenny McKinley who is having a spectacular season. The junior leads the league with 62 receptions and averages more than 12 yards a catch.

"McKinley is a great receiver," Meyer said. "Coach Spurrier, you just study his stuff over the years. We studied his stuff when he was at Florida. It really hasn't changed, but why change it because it's been so successful. He likes certain things against certain coverages. Some teams have done a heck of a job covering them. Vanderbilt did a heck of a job, but then other teams, he rips them apart. We've worked on learning the routes that he likes against certain coverages."

One thing the young Gator defense will have to look for is Spurrier changing plays after the Gators show their defense. Kentucky did it several times, and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford checked his play just before converting a crucial 3rd-and-long in the fourth quarter two weeks ago.

"That's the negative about a young team," Meyer said. "Once they get you, they've got you and it's hard to get back out of it. I've had that same discussion with our staff and with a more veteran team you can recheck after they stem you."

One week wonder?

Freshman offensive-guard-converted-to-defensive -tackle Michael Pouncey was the spark for the Gator defense last week, but he's not the only true freshman on the defensive line to be improving in recent weeks.

"We're calling him the one-week wonder," Meyer said. "But he's gotten a lot better as far as technique. Coach Mattison is obviously a heck of a coach. The guy who is really improving is Carlos Dunlap. He's really made a push here in the last few weeks. He's really going to help us."

Meyer said because of Dunlap's size, his future will most likely be at defensive end.

"He was a guy that wasn't going very hard at first, but he's going to have a great career here," Meyer said. "I don't know if you saw him try to block a punt last week. He's a 6-7, 280-pound big guy that went right over the top. He's a talented guy."


  • Tim Tebow grew up watching Spurrier's offense at Florida, and now he gets to start against him. Said Meyer, "Tebow is the best he's felt, 100 percent. Ride that horse."
  • Percy Harvin missed practice on Thursday because of illness. Louis Murphy missed practice on Tuesday, and Meyer said it's something that's going around the team.
  • Michael Pouncey isn't the only one who could move from offense to defense. Said Meyer, "Maurkice Pouncey could probably go over and play defense as well. He's not going to, but both of those kids, you get a team full of those guys and you're cutting down practice periods because they're pretty good. Those kids are going to be great players."

    Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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