Josh Kendall: Wounded Florida not dangerous enough to beat USC
When South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Thursday night on his call-in show that he expects Florida to run out of the Wildcat formation a lot Saturday if quarterback Tyler Murphy can’t play, Gamecocks fans probably gulped.
South Carolina fans certainly remember their defense being gashed at times by a running quarterback this season, but there are two reasons why the Gator game should be different. Most importantly, these Gamecocks linebackers are playing much, much better than they were the last time they got burned by a running quarterback. Secondly, Florida can’t block anybody.
All the reports out of Gainesville, Fla., this week suggest Murphy will not play due to a shoulder injury, which means Florida will use some combination of freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, who entered the season as the third-string quarterback and has not taken a collegiate snap, and the Wildcat, where wide receiver/tight end Trey Burton would be the most likely signal-caller.
There is a wounded animal quality to Florida right now in the sense that it is desperate and doesn’t have much to lose (except the realistic possibility of bowl eligibility), but things don’t often turn out well for the wounded animal in the long run.
The Gators have enough defense to beat Florida if the Gamecocks make early mistakes and give Florida some early hope. If you want a blueprint of that, go back to last year’s game when USC turned over the ball four times and lost 44-11. That, however, was a Florida team that was No. 3 in the country and playing with a ton of confidence. These Gators are the exact opposite of that.
The Gamecocks will have plenty to play for regardless of the outcome of the Georgia-Auburn game, but it would make for a raucous atmosphere in Williams-Brice Stadium if the Bulldogs lose, opening the door to the SEC Eastern Division crown. South Carolina has won 15 straight home games, the longest active streak in the nation, and it will extend that to 16 Saturday.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 27, Florida 10
David Cloninger: A chance to score some points vs. Gators
Maybe it’s because he couldn’t at first, or maybe it’s because he’s mellowed, but I don’t believe Steve Spurrier has ever intentionally run up the score on anyone at South Carolina. Spurrier long ago made his bones as a mastermind coach, a king of the game, and he doesn’t have to prove it anymore by blowing out scoreboard lights against an inferior opponent.
I think he will have a chance to do it Saturday. He won’t if he gets in position, because of his love for his old school, but he should have a chance to do it. Quite simply, the Gators stink.
They have no offense. It’s a crying shame for a team that took the SEC into the new era of prolific offenses to be so awful at even the smallest things. Turning the ball over to Vanderbilt several times was one thing, but the play that stood out to me last week was watching Florida fumble a first-and-goal at the 1-yard-line into a 5-yard loss on an option pitch that was too low and rolled out-of-bounds.
The Gamecocks, needing to win this game to retain their chances for the SEC championship and a BCS bowl, will win this game handily because Florida can’t counter. USC’s defense isn’t dominant, but it is so much more fundamentally sound than at season’s beginning, and it’s going against a team that doesn’t know if it will have its best quarterback available – and even if Tyler Murphy plays, that doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the Gators.
Playing the last home SEC game of his career and trying to tie Todd Ellis’ record for wins by a starting QB, and to set a record for consecutive wins at Williams-Brice Stadium, Connor Shaw will have a fun game. Mike Davis has saved a little extra for a team that he viewed as disloyal when it recruited him, and he will also have fun Saturday.
USC will have a chance to run up the score. It won’t, because Spurrier won’t embarrass his former squad, but if a lot of points happen to occur while trying to win the game, so be it.
That’s what will happen.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 28, Florida 10
GoGamecocks' Josh Kendall and Neil White preview South Carolina's game against Florida, and get caught up on the SEC East title scenarios for the Gamecocks.