Ellis Johnson has seen the reviews questioning whether the Florida offense has lost some of its zip in quarterback Tim Tebow's third season as starter.
Johnson, USC's assistant head coach for defense, thinks critics might have become spoiled watching the Gators the past three years.
"I think what's happened is everybody's been watching that movie for three years," Johnson said Thursday. "It's like watching a re-run: It's not as exciting the next time around, but it's still the same movie."
Johnson used a movie metaphor in discussing Tebow, as well. Tebow is ninth in the SEC with 170.1 passing yards per game, although the left-hander ranks among the conference's top seven rushers.
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"Everybody watches Tebow and says he doesn't look like the same Tebow. He's the same Tebow. It's just everybody's been watching it for three years," Johnson said. "It's like going back and watching The Godfather three times. The blood doesn't look as bad the third time. But don't kid yourself, they're one of the top two offenses in the conference."
Tebow has been sacked a career-high 21 times after taking 15 sacks all of last season. But Johnson said the Gamecocks will be judicious with their blitzes.
"I don't think it's a guy you blitz a lot. You blitz him and miss him, he kills you with his feet," he said. "So if you've got to take one bottle of poison, you'd rather him throw it than run it 15 yards and hope you've got good coverage."
Matthews questionable. Johnson said defensive end Cliff Matthews, who missed the Arkansas game with a dislocated left shoulder, will be a game-time decision Saturday. Matthews has been wearing a protective brace on the shoulder, which has not fully recovered.
Johnson said coaches would have Matthews ready for "certain situations" if he looks OK in warm-ups. With defensive tackle Devin Taylor (bruised sternum) also out, defensive tackle Melvin Ingram is expected to make his first start at end.
B-Mad to start. Junior tailback Brian Maddox, the forgotten man in the Gamecocks' backfield in recent weeks, will make his first start since the Mississippi game Sept. 24. Redshirt freshman Kenny Miles, USC's leading rusher, has started the past six games.
USC coach Steve Spurrier said he wanted a bigger back to handle the Gators' blitz.
"He's a little bigger and he can block those blitzing linebackers a little bit better," Spurrier said. "So we'll see how it goes."
Maddox has not had more than four carries in a game since the S.C. State win.
Follow the cows. Despite USC's three losses in four games, the Chick-fil-A Bowl has not yet eliminated the Gamecocks from consideration. The Dec. 31 bowl will have a representative at Saturday's game, the third consecutive week Chick-fil-A officials have scouted the Gamecocks.
"No way around it though, they're going to have to find a way to get another win," wrote Leeman Bennett on his Chick-fil-A team selection blog. "I think they need to play well against the Gators and then beat their rivals from the Upstate for us to keep talking about them."
Extra points. Saturday's game will be USC's first sellout this season. The Clemson game on Nov. 28 also is sold out. ... Senior Darian Stewart will return to strong safety after playing spur the past two games. Antonio Allen is expected to start at spur.