Scouting Carolina Defense and Special Teams

The Gamecocks are better on defense than they are offensively. They are allowing just 101 on the ground and 155 through the air. They have held every opponent to 24 points or less. Among SEC teams only LSU (162, 2 TD) has been able to run effectively against them.

In many ways they are a lot like Vandy in that the D-line is not great, they are very strong at two LB spots and have a solid, opportunistic secondary. That's where the similarity ends, because Carolina is much more athletic. They are also trickier to prepare for because they give you multiple looks up front. They also love to blitz and virtually any LB or DB is a candidate.

The DL has good size led by 298-pound DT No. 98 Ladi Ajiboye who should be their best player but has not had much of a year. The DE are solid players in Jordin Lindsey and Cliff Matthews. Lindsey made the key play against Arkansas with an interception and 40-yard return.

The best players on the defensive unit are MLB Jasper Brinkley and WLB Eric Norwood. Brinkley was hurt last year. He's come back to play well, but he's not as good as the All-SEC guy he was before. Norwood has been tremendous. He's second on the team in tackles (54) and leads with seven QB sacks. The SLB is not a strength and Florida could exploit it with the TE and strong side running as they did against Vandy.

The secondary is pretty good, especially at corner with Captain Munnerlyn who many teams have avoided. Two guys share the other corner; Stoney Woodson has four INT and Carlos Thomas has three. SS Emanuel Cook loves to cheat up against the run. He's a very good tackler but Florida can go over the top on him. The starting FS Chris Culliver is a good player, but will miss the first half after throwing a punch last week. Look for Florida to try to exploit the deep middle early as a result.

Overall this might be as good a defense as the Gator have faced with enough athletes to somewhat counter Florida's speed. But just like the SC offensive line, the defensive line is not special and Florida should win the trench war.

Carolina Special --- Unlike Many Spurrier teams over the years Carolina is very good on special teams, thanks in large part to first year coordinator Ray Rychleski. They are very good at kickoff return (25.2, 84) and kickoff coverage (21.1, 31). Punt coverage is also good (7.8, 32) but they haven't been any good at returning punts (5.8, 35). Kicker Ryan Succop has missed nine FG this season and has had one blocked. The Gators have blocked four of his kicks in the last two years. The punter Spencer Lanning is very good and very consistent. They have blocked two kicks.

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