Anthem Roundtable: Florida

In this edition of the Anthem Roundtable, the crew previews the Florida game. Look inside as David Porter, Wes Mitchell, the Leftover Hot Dog blog and the Life of a Gamecock blog answer burning questions about this weekend's SEC matchup.

Today's roundtable features staff writer David Porter, Publisher Wes Mitchell and guest bloggers Leftover Hot Dog and Life of a Gamecock.

Please make sure you click their names and frequent their blogs too - you won't be disappointed.

Let's get down to it...


There's been a lot of talk this week about South Carolina playing its first home game since the win over Kentucky. How much, if any, does the return home help this team and in what areas does it help the most?


PORTER: I think it will help to be back at home in familiar surroundings and the home crowd behind them. I will be somewhat interested to see how the offense performs at home after blistering Kentucky in Connor Shaw's first real start. Other than the above listed, there's really no other advantages than there normally is.

MITCHELL: Spurrier doesn't like to talk about going on the road being an issue but after three straight road games including the loss to Arkansas, being back at home has to be welcomed, especially for the offensive line. Shawn Elliott mentioned this week that it could help out his line in that they can get an extra half second on the snap of the ball thanks to the home crowd as opposed to a loud opponent's crowd. I've said for some time that I believe Connor Shaw, at this point in his career, is more comfortable at home, and I believe you'll see that played out on the field today.

LOHD: South Carolina's last home win over Florida came in Coach Spurrier's first season at the helm, a 30-22 win in the 2005 campaign so the home field advantage has not always determined the winner in this clash. In saying that, this is not your usual Gator squad either. Having the fans with ya does factor into the psyche of the team and it should provide them with a heightened level of confidence in their attempt to stay in the hunt for the East. I think the biggest area it helps is defense as the crowd comes alive in key situations and this helps the defense tremendously.

LIFE: I think playing at home is a huge boost for the confidence level of this football team. I'd be concerned if they would have to go on the road after what happened at Arkansas but the home crowd should be loud and ready to give this Gamecock team a ton of support. I think defense will really get the benefit of the home crowd. Any time you come into Williams-Brice, it's gonna be loud for the opposing team. Anything to rattle the Florida offense is an extra benefit from playing at home.


The defense was very clearly exposed by a very potent Arkansas passing attack. What does this unit need to do to get back to the level it was playing at in the weeks leading up to that game?


PORTER: Arkansas was the perfect storm for the Carolina defense. They hadn't seen an offense with that kind of explosiveness in the air attack since the second week of the season. It showed the Gamecocks what many thought was the case going into the game; the pass defense is much improved this season, but still not as good as the numbers indicated. Florida tries to spread it out and throw the ball, but does not have near the firepower Arkansas does. It will all start up front. If the line can get pressure on John Brantley the secondary will have a great game. If Brantley is able to sit back in the pocket, even the best secondaries cannot stop a passing game if the quarterback can pick you apart.

MITCHELL: Bobby Petrino's scheme is a brilliant one based on making the defense always wrong. That played a big part in the issues. John Brantley still doesn't look 100 percent so he won't be a Tyler Wilson in terms of moving around in the pocket. South Carolina needs to find a way to get to him and then actually bring him down while just rushing the front four. The extra safety that allows them to keep deep could be the difference in a touchdown run and a 15-yard run with the speed Florida has in its backfield.

LOHD: Pressure. The USC defense has to get pressure and spend time in the opposing offense's backfield. The front seven of USC plays a critical role in this game as they have to disrupt the UF passing and rushing game by getting pressure.

LIFE: This unit needs to be back to the basics. They've got to stick with their assignments and play smart football. Give Arkansas credit though because that is a powerful offense. South Carolina may have been exposed but most teams in the country would have a hard time shutting down that passing game. I think Damario Jeffery struggled in filling Antonio Allen's role. Pass coverage doesn't seem to be a strong area for him. Hopefully they've made some adjustments for these guys to be successful. I think we'll see a better outing from the Gamecocks this weekend.


Urban Meyer may not have recruited for the pro-style offense Charlie Weis is running but the man did recruit speed on top of speed. How much of a worry should that be for Carolina?


PORTER: Coach Johnson spoke briefly about the speed the Gators have, particularly in running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. The speed of the Gators should be the thing that the Gamecocks should fear the most. Florida will try and get the ball to the quick backs in open space against the linebackers and safeties of the Gamecocks. Carolina must do a good job of mixing up coverages to try and neutralize the speed of the Gators.

MITCHELL: This may be South Carolina's biggest concern. The South Carolina defense should be able to hold Florida down but big plays from the speed backs for long scores could negate an otherwise good day if the USC offense doesn't move the ball.

LOHD: Not too much concerned with UF's team speed as USC can equally match it in 2011. For USC to be successful against the speed they must execute the basics, which is choosing the right pursuit angles and tackling.

LIFE: Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey have tons of speed and then some. This is the main concern for the Gamecocks on defense. Rainey is the leading rusher and receiver so he's deadly in both areas. You can't allow these guys to get to the outside on you. They can turn the corner in a hurry so containment is a big thing for the Gamecocks. Keep these guys in front of you and be sure you wrap up on your tackles. We can't afford to let one of these small, speedy players to slip through and get to the next level.


Who's the South Carolina player no one is talking about that needs to have a big game this week?


PORTER: I'm going to go with a group. I mentioned it a little bit in the previous questions, and that is the linebackers. Florida is going to try and take advantage of the group of backers with Rainey and Demps. The linebackers must keep them in front and make open field tackles. Don't let a four yard gain turn into a thirty yard gain.

MITCHELL: I'll take whoever is playing right tackle. It could be Cody Gibson or it could be Mike Matulis. Either way, South Carolina needs to get solid play out of that position.

LOHD: Jadeveon Clowney. He has been a little quiet of late and it is time for him to remind people why he is the best freshman defensive end in the nation. When mentioning pressure earlier, it is of upmost importance that Clowney factors into this. For the season, he has five sacks, five quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles to go with 27 tackles.

LIFE: How about Victor Hampton? He looked solid on kick returns last weekend and showed a bit of burst and speed along with a hard running style that was refreshing to see on a return. It's been a lackluster area this season and giving this offense shorter field of play would be a great benefit to Connor Shaw and company. He's also pretty crucial in pass coverage for the Gamecocks so he could be a big player to watch this weekend that isn't being talked about right now.


The single biggest key to South Carolina winning this game is…


PORTER: Take care of the ball. I mentioned it last week and that is what doomed the team. Carolina cannot continuously turn the ball over as it has done all season. It came back to bite them last week and will do the same this week if the Gamecocks give Florida short fields.

MITCHELL: It's got to be o-line play. If South Carolina can keep the Florida front seven at bay, they'll win this football game.

LOHD: Offensive line play. They big nasty's upfront have to pass block and create running lanes. The outcome of this game hinges on their performance.

LIFE: Keeping Connor Shaw on the field. It may not be the most in-depth answer but it's a big key to a Gamecock victory. I think his health is very important for this offense and I'm not as confident about our options behind him being able to pick up the slack. He brings athletic ability from the quarterback position and can make most of the throws on the field. He needs to be out there for the Gamecocks to win this game. If he's not it could be interesting for the Gamecocks.


PREDICTION?


PORTER: This is a "must-win" for Carolina and is a game they should win. Florida has talent, but has not been able to put it all together this season. Hopefully for the sake of Carolina's SEC East title hopes for at least one more week they will not do it. Florida would love to play spoiler and the Gamecocks can't let it happen. Carolina wins 24-20.

MITCHELL: There's more scoring in this one than anyone expects. And South Carolina wins it 31-28.

LOHD: 27-23. USC will mount a second half charge that will seal the win thanks to Brandon Wilds and Connor Shaw finding ways to make plays.

LIFE: South Carolina pulls out a 21-17 win over the Gators. This may finally be the week to see Alshon Jeffery go off for a big game and I think Carolina's run game will pick up as well. USC's defense improves on their performance from last week and get to John Brantley often throughout the night and come down with a few turnovers and several sacks. Big plays late help a crucial SEC win for the Gamecocks.


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