Ward addresses defense

South Carolina will try to keep pace in the SEC East this weekend as they take on the Florida Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks will enter the game trying to stop a Florida offense that has struggled to score points this season, but will do so fielding a banged up defense.

Facing Bobby Petrino and the Arkansas defense is enough to drive most defensive coordinators crazy. But doing so without the help of several experienced defensive backs certainly did not make things any easier for South Carolina. After giving up a season high 44 points last Saturday, South Carolina will try to regroup against Will Muschamp's first Florida Gator team on Saturday.

Charlie Weis is also in his first year as the Gators offensive coordinator, and has seen his offense struggle mightily, ranking ninth in the SEC in total offense and only producing fourteen touchdowns so far this year.

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward also addressed the injury situation with USC, specifically the status of spur linebacker Devonte Holloman and cornerback D.J. Swearinger.

"Well I definitely think DJ will play," said Ward. "He didn't practice today, he's in a boot, but DJ understands what we're doing on defense and I think he'll be ready to play."

When pressed to reveal the status of Holloman for this weekend, Ward said the team would prepare as if he will not be able to play, but is still hopeful for his return. Holloman left last Saturday's game against Arkansas with an injury sustained in that contest.

"Well again, you've got to prepare," said Ward. "You have to prepare as if he's out and he's a little bit further behind from what I understand it's a concussion. There's a process you have to do, because you're messing with young men's lives if you take them and try to bring them back too early if they're still in the concussion stage. So we'll do what's best for Devonte and we'll get the rest of them ready for this game."

Florida has been dealing with injury problems at quarterback for much of the season, but senior John Brantley was able to return against Georgia and will be the starter this weekend.

Both Brantley and freshman Jeff Driskel were injured in the Gators October 1st contest against Alabama. Ward said that lining up in the pistol formation will help Brantley be effective and make dealing with his injured ankle a little bit easier.

"(Is it different), really it's not," said Ward. "We saw the pistol this past week with Arkansas. I think their reason for doing it is the quarterback has an injured ankle and he doesn't have to push off of it to drop, he's already in his drop. So again they're doing what the player can do and that's the sign of a smart coach."

Ward said that Charlie Weis's attack this year is about emphasizing his team's primary strength which lies in the speed and versatility of Florida's skill players.

"(It's) a lot of West Coast football, pro style," said Ward. "Again they're not a overall difficult formation team to line up against, but they get in tight formations to create some mismatches and I think he does what his players can do. They try to utilize the speed that they have. They've got great speed at receiver and at the running back spot, so we need to be as full strength as possible on the perimeter to have a chance to win a ballgame."

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