KICKOFF: Saturday, noon
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
SERIES: Florida leads 23-5-3 (last meeting, 2010, South Carolina 36-14
RECORDS: Florida 5-4, 3-4 SEC; South Carolina 7-2, 5-2 SEC
POLLS: South Carolina (No. 15 AP, No. 15 USA Today)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Florida: Get the crowd out of the game early. Getting some takeaways would help there, but the Gators have only forced one turnover in their last five games. The secondary ad special teams must step up.
-- For South Carolina: Pressure Florida QB John Brantley. The Gators' senior has suffered through a disappointing season due mostly to a myriad of injuries and is returning from a foot injury. He's not very mobile when healthy, so the Gamecocks should manage to force mistakes if they can get to him with sacks or hurries.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Florida ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring offense, averaging 26 points per game. The Gators improved running the ball and should get a boost if RB Chris Rainey returns from an injured ankle and joins Jeff Demps this week. QB John Brantley says he's close to being fully healthy, which will help UF's passing game.
Coach Will Muschamp was pleased with Florida's run defense against Vanderbilt, but said the Gators need to improve in the secondary. Florida allowed Vanderbilt to throw for 297 yards. Florida ranks fourth in the SEC in run defense (123.3 ypg) and fourth in pass defense (182.8 ypg).
The is a strong possibility TB Kenny Miles could receive more carries this week after getting significant action for the first time since injuring his wrist early in the season. After rushing for 137 yards against Tennessee, freshman Brandon Wilds had only 21 yards on 10 carries against Arkansas and had a key second-half fumble. Miles ran impressively in his few carries in the game. QB Connor Shaw was expected to practice this week and appears set to start against the Gators. The team has continued to struggle in the passing game, as junior All-America WR Alshon Jeffery caught only three passes for 19 yards last week.
Following several weeks of elite play, the South Carolina defense struggled mightily against the high-flying Arkansas offense, marking the second straight year the Gamecocks have been unable to consistently stop the Razorbacks. One of the reasons for the play was the inability of senior SPUR Antonio Allen to play after injuring his neck in practice. Considered the heart of the defense, his loss was felt last week. Compounding problems for assistant head coach-defense Ellis Johnson was the loss of SS DeVonte Holloman to a concussion late in the game. He is listed as questionable. One other move has senior C. C. Whitlock moving to a starting spot at field cornerback, where senior Marty Markett has been. The two receive virtually equal playing time during games, though.
Gators: This is the final conference game of the season for Florida, which will play Furman on Nov. 19 before winding up the regular season against Florida State the next week. This also will be the Gators' last road game of the regular season. ... Florida is out of the division race but can deal South Carolina a damaging blow by handing the Gamecocks a third conference loss.... Florida is 10-4-1 against South Carolina in Columbia and is 17-2 against the Gamecocks since South Carolina joined the SEC for the 1992 season. ... Florida is limiting opponents to convert just 30.3 percent of the time on third down, seventh-best in the country. ... QB John Brantley said is arm is "a little bruised up" but expects to be fine for South Carolina. Brantley sat out part of the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt with an arm injury. Brantley also said his ankle is "close to 100 percent" and expects to be able to play some from under center. ... SS Matt Elam earned coach Will Muschamp's praise for his anticipation and ability to make plays. Elam is second on the team in tackles with 53, including 6.5 for loss. Elam also has a team-high two interceptions. ... OL Tommy Jordan had shoulder surgery and will join OL Trip Thurman as a medical redshirt. Both Jordan and Thurman are true freshmen.
Gamecocks: Last year's dominating 36-14 win over Florida clinched the Eastern Division title for South Carolina. It also made coach Steve Spurrier, whose Gators dominated the series back in the 1990s, 2-4 against his alma mater. ... That 2010 win broke a four-game losing streak for South Carolina against Florida. The Gators had claimed 18 wins in 19 games prior to that. ... The Gamecocks need a victory to finish 6-2 in the league and then hope Georgia loses to either Auburn or Kentucky in its remaining league games to win a second consecutive division title. The Bulldogs are 5-1 and have Auburn and Kentucky left to play. If the two teams do tie, South Carolina has the tiebreaker by virtue of its earlier win over the Bulldogs. ... The Gamecocks had their school-record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas. They had the nation's fifth-longest winning streak prior to the setback. ... WR Bruce Ellington is one of the most versatile athletes on football team. The redshirt freshman, who was the leading scorer on the Gamecocks' basketball team last season, will probably not only line up at wide receiver, but in the backfield as well as a Wildcat quarterback. He has rushed 13 times for 102 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown, completed 2-of-3 passes for 24 yards and caught 14 passes for 140 yards. ...
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB John Brantley -- Injuries have curtailed Brantley's senior season, but he still feels like he has plenty left for his final SEC game. Brantley has averaged 197.8 yards per game this season with six TDs and three interceptions. He has completed 58.7 percent of his passes.
RB Jeff Demps -- With senior Chris Rainey still ailing with an ankle injury, the running workload could once again fall on the speedy Demps. Demps is second on Florida in rushing with 494 yards while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Demps also has a team-high six rushing TDs.
CB Marcus Roberson -- Roberson will get a tough assignment in facing lankly 6-4 South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery is eighth in the SEC in receiving, averaging 54.1 yards per game.
QB Connor Shaw -- South Carolina has struggled to produce a consistent passing attack this season. Since the offensive line has been lacking in recent weeks, the mobility of Shaw has given the team an opportunity to be competitive. He has been cleared to return to practice after sustaining a concussion late in the loss at Arkansas.
DE Melvin Ingram -- After getting off to a tremendous start, Ingram's production, at least in the sack department, has declined since suffering foot and ankle injuries weeks ago. If the Gamecocks' defense is to rebound from last week's dismal performance against Arkansas, it needs a see the Ingram it had early in the season.
CB Victor Hampton -- The redshirt sophomore has played better than anyone could have hoped. His propensity to play receivers tight and take chances could bite him against the speed of the Florida receivers. If he is able to keep up, an interception could be in his future. He also appears in line to become one of the Gamecocks' kickoff returners after solid outing a week ago.
RB Chris Raney (ankle, probable), LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion probable), LB Lerentee McCray (shoulder, day-to-day), OT Chaz Green (ankle, probable).
QB Connor Shaw (concussion, probable), SPUR Antonio Allen (neck, probable), SS DeVonte Holloman (concussion, doubtful).
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