Today's roundtable features staff writer David Porter, Publisher Adam Garrett and guest bloggerLeftover Hot Dog.
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We'll get started with this week's edition of The Anthem Roundtable...
The big news right now is on the injury/flu bug front for the Gamecocks. Some big names could miss this weekend's game. How will that affect the team this weekend if someone like Marcus Lattimore or Jadeveon Clowney is unable to play?
PORTER: Though the news is much brighter 48 hours away from kickoff, if one of the big names is forced to miss the game, it will surely hurt. Fortunately for South Carolina, they have the depth now that they did not have several years ago. If Carolina lost their best offensive or defensive player several years ago, they would be fortunate to stay within three touchdowns of a top five team. Now, someone else will step in and fill the role.
GARRETT: South Carolina's health issues got better overnight compared to where they were on Wednesday. Marcus Lattimore is not expected to start but should be able to give the Gamecocks some carries. Having him available will certainly help South Carolina but obviously want him at full health. The Gamecocks will need some backup players like Kenny Miles and Mike Davis on offense with Phillip Dukes and Gerald Dixon on defense to step up big for South Carolina. The Gamecocks aren't at full health but they are much better than what they were earlier this week.
LOHD: The way it will affect the Gamecocks, is it will make it harder to win. The Gamecocks need all their key starters to be on the field to increase their ease of winning in The Swamp. Florida is not going to roll over and having the likes of Lattimore and Clowney, even if at 80% is better than zero.
Connor Shaw had his struggles last weekend in the hostile environment at LSU. How important will his play on the field this weekend against Florida be?
PORTER: He's the single biggest key for Carolina this weekend. If he is able to make plays with his legs and arm, Carolina has a great shot at winning. If he is contained in the pocket and not allowed to pull the ball down and run like last weekend, the Gamecocks will be in trouble.
GARRETT: Connor Shaw will need to showcase that steady play and leadership that he showed in games like Missouri and Georgia. Shaw's running ability is huge for the South Carolina offense. He is able to keep drives alive when plays break down and has picked up several first downs on third down plays. He's played in big environments before. He can't allow himself to get rattled this weekend.
LOHD: USC needs him to play at a high level to find success as he is catalyst for this team. One area they need him in is his running abilities. Having the dynamic duo of Lattimore and Shaw is what makes USC's offense so potent.
Florida's running game has taken off this season to the tune of 233 yards per game. What needs to happen for the Gamecocks to slow down Mike Gillislee and Jeff Driskel?
PORTER: They must play assignment football. Last weekend the defense was constantly out of position – mainly due to LSU's offensive line – and the Tiger tailbacks ran wild. Fortunately for them, they see this type of offense every week and throughout fall camp. The defense will force Jeff Driskel to throw the football, something he has not proven he can do. If he has a big game through the air and Florida wins, then Lorenzo Ward and the Gamecock defense will just have to tip their caps to Driskel.
GARRETT: Solid tackling goes a long way against strong running teams. Gillislee runs hard and has gain a ton of yardage this season while Driskel has sneaky speed that can outrun you if you let him. If they can wrap up the Gators running game and force them to throw the pass then South Carolina stands a great chance on Saturday.
LOHD: The Gamecocks need to get pressure off the edge of the defensive line and then have the linebackers plug the gaps. The other big thing is for the front seven to tackle well. I feel the key player in this game is going to be Shaq Wilson. He needs to play his best in this game.
Florida is 10-1 under Will Muschamp when leading at the half. Will Carolina need to strike early to give themselves a chance to win this Saturday?
PORTER: Striking early would be great for Carolina, but not a necessity. If they can force Driskel to throw the football, that will only benefit the defense. More important to Carolina is to stay within striking distance late in the game. If Carolina enters the fourth within striking distance they will feel comfortable about a chance at pulling one out.
GARRETT: Yes. South Carolina needs to get after the Gators early and give themselves some room on the scoreboard. The crowd level will be amped up early so an early score here and there should quiet the stadium down and help South Carolina build confidence for the rest of the game. They can't allow Florida to get ahead in the first half. Keeping the lead is crucial for South Carolina's chances at victory.
LOHD: Yes. The Gamecocks need to come out of the gate ready to fight and get points early as this will keep the crowd out of the game and keep the Gators a little tamed. Coach Spurrier does not to have hesitation to begin the play-calling.
Florida's defense in the second half has been impressive, limiting opponents to just 23 points total in the second half in six games and allowed just 11-of-45 on third down conversions. What must South Carolina do to avoid suffering the same fate as other Florida opponents?
PORTER:It all begins in the first half. If Carolina comes out conservative like they did last week, they will suffer the same ugly fate as the previous Florida opponents. If they come out early and gain momentum and begin to click offensively, it can carry on into the second half. They must stay balanced and keep Florida on their toes all afternoon.
GARRETT: Starting out strong and having the confidence to move the football will help carry over to the second half. Florida's defense has been strong in the second half keeping teams off the scoreboard but the Gamecocks offense can help themselves out by starting early and keeping things going throughout the rest of the game.
LOHD: Continue to play their game by staying balanced on offense with mixing run plays with some short passing schemes. The big issue is the USC offensive line has to create and protect better in this game than they did versus LSU. This game is won or lost in the trenches, much like LSU.
Florida is allowing an average of 3.0 sacks per game this season, which is 103rd nationally in the country. With South Carolina's stout defense, can they bring the pressure on Driskel?
PORTER: They need to get to Driskel early and often. Florida will pick up on Carolina selling out to stop the run and will try and throw some short passes to build confidence. If Carolina can get to Driskel and affect his confidence, he will start getting rid of the ball early and that will allow Carolina's secondary to make plays.
GARRETT: The Gamecocks defense is one of the best in the country when it comes to sacking the quarterback. They've been able to bring pressure on most opponents this year and can cause a lot of problems and mistakes for opposing offenses. Clowney could be limited with his foot injury but Devin Taylor and Chaz Sutton are more than capable of filling in and bringing the heat. If they can force Florida to backup on offense and gain some field position, it could be a very good day for the Gamecocks.
LOHD: I feel they can but they have to be aggressive. It just did not seem like they were ready to pounce versus LSU. They need that fighting spirit they had on display versus UGa. The matchup between Clowney and Florida LT Xavier Nixon will be one to watch. But as I say that it is time for the old men to play big by providing leadership in this crucial game so Shaq Wilson, Akeem Auguste, DeVonte Holloman and Devin Taylor the eyes are on you.
PORTER: This is a tough one. Conventional wisdom says Florida will win this game. They're at home, getting healthy, and Carolina has health issues. That's when Spurrier is at his best. Spurrier will have something up his sleeve and no one would love to end Florida's undefeated season than Spurrier on their field. This game will be a little higher scoring than many may think. Carolina wins 27-20.
GARRETT: Both teams play a similar brand of football. They both run the ball extremely well, have tough defenses and can make things happen in special teams. Flip a coin on this one because it can go either way. Something tells me though that we'll see a different South Carolina team this weekend than we did last weekend. Gamecocks pull out the close victory 21-20.
LOHD: The talent levels are similar here, so the team that limits mistakes and can make a few big plays will pull this one out. The Gamecocks are slightly better equipped to do that. I look for USC to be ready to flex their SEC East muscle again after the loss. South Carolina will get this win by the score of 24-17.