FightinGators.com's Cody Jones joins Gamecock Anthem to preview South Carolina's upcoming opponent. Below are Jones' answers to Anthem's six burning questions about the South Carolina-Florida game.
1. Steve Spurrier says that after the first few games, the South Carolina-Florida game has become just another game to him despite his obvious history. What is the perception now from the Florida fanbase about playing their former coach and player?
The hype about playing against a team coached by Spurrier has died down since 2005. That's not to say that the Florida fanbase has forgotten what Spurrier did during his time in Gainesville, as he is still looked up to as one of the greatest head coaches in school history. However, it doesn't feel like the spark is still there because of a coaching matchup.
Some of the Florida players were asked about it this week, and they agreed that it just feels like a UF-USC game. Part of it has to do with the players, too. The freshmen on this team were eight years old when Spurrier left Florida.
2. Everyone knew there would be some growing pains going from Urban Meyer's spread to Charlie Weis' pro-style offense. What has been the biggest adjustment for the team and what parts of that transition have been seamless?
There have been plenty of issues. The wide receivers and running backs are undersized for a pro-style offense. Urban Meyer recruited to have the fastest team in America, and he accomplished that in his time in Gainesville. However, the Gators don't have much size at wide receiver or a running back that can stay healthy carrying the ball 20-25 times a game.
Then there's the offensive line. The Gators just don't have enough healthy bodies. Florida usually plays with seven or eight healthy offensive linemen. That isn't because of the transition to a pro-style offense, but it has created plenty of issues.
The easiest part of the transition has been John Brantley. It didn't take much for him to switch over and run a pro-style offense, as it was evident last year that's where his skill set fits best. His struggles during conference play have mostly been caused by health. If his ankle if healthy, he is able to help Charlie Weis open the playbook up.
3. Florida has incorporated the pistol into its offense to help John Brantley. What was the thinking behind that move and will we see Florida use it throughout the game Saturday?
It should be a big part of the offense Saturday. The main reason for using it is Brantley's ankle. The injury has kept him from taking snaps under center and turning to hand the ball off to a running back. When they run out of the pistol, it allows Florida to get a downhill running game without forcing Brantley to go under center.
This isn't the pistol offense, however. Florida runs the same running plays from the pistol that they do with Brantley under center. The only difference is Brantley's pre-snap location.
4. South Carolina saw a John Brantley last season that appeared to lack confidence and that was playing in an offense that didn't fit his strengths. How much has having Charlie Weis helped Brantley's development?
The first challenge for Weis was to rebuild that confidence. Brantley was a mess mentally after being used the wrong way last season. Weis worked with him all season about forgetting bad plays, or in some cases, bad seasons. Brantley is simply a better fit for Weis' offense and seeing that helped his confidence. The early parts of the season saw Florida ease Brantley into the game by running the ball to open up play action throws.
5. What is the biggest change Muschamp (and staff) have brought to the defense compared to the Florida defense last season?
The scheme has some differences. Florida is playing some 3-4 under Muschamp. His defense features a BUCK linebacker position that allows one player to serve as a standup linebacker or a defensive end. Ronald Powell looked like a perfect player to fit the position, but he has struggled at times this season. The coaches also moved Sharrif Floyd from defensive tackle to end, giving the Gators a better run stopper on the outside. Floyd has come on in recent weeks, as he finally looks to be comfortable at the position.
6. No. 1 key to Florida winning the game?
Florida has to stop the run and make the Gamecocks one dimensional. That has been easier said than done this season. The Gators have been average at stopping opposing backs this season. If they struggle to stop Brandon Wilds, it could get ugly for the Florida defense. The young secondary looked lost in the second half of the Vanderbilt game last week, so if the Gators have to bring extra people into the box to stop the run, it won't be pretty for Florida.
From the other sideline: Florida
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