Florida vs South Carolina
11.10.18 / 12:00 PM
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Florida is looking to right the ship this Saturday after two blowout losses to Georgia and Missouri, respectively. A once promising season, now hinges on the Gators response to recent disappointments. There is still much to play for but does this year’s team have what it takes to get back up and fight?
Much has been made of the poor play of quarterback Feleipe Franks over the last few weeks, and that’s fair. But the offensive line and the defense shoulder just as much blame for the Gators drop-off.
After combining for 11 sacks versus Mississippi State and LSU, the Gators have managed just two in the last three games. A unit that once lead the nation in takeaways, has only created one turnover in that same three game stretch. On top of all of this, they have been gashed and burned as opposing offenses have scored almost at will.
The good news is that they will play host to a South Carolina team that has a -5 turnover margin. The bad news? The combination of Jake Bentley and Deebo Samuel is as explosive as they come. The key to disrupting this duo and creating turnover opportunities is to bring heavy pressure on Bentley.
He has to feel the ominous presence of guys like Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga from start to finish. More than that, they must make contact. Make Bentley pick himself up off of the turf all day.
When Florida was in the midst of their five game winning streak, the offensive line wasn’t so much dominating their opposition as they were just executing consistently. The focus and intensity must return to this position group for Florida to rebound and accomplish the remaining goal of winning out.
The running game has suffered as the line has failed to create the running lanes for the Gators backs. They will be facing a Gamecock defense that has been susceptible to the run, allowing an average of 182 yards per game. Exploiting that weakness will be paramount for the offense this week.
As has been the case all season, if the rushing attack is effective, the passing game will open up. Which brings me to the second half of the offensive line’s responsibilities. They actually began the game pretty well in pass protection last week but fell apart after the first quarter.
As bad as Franks was last week – and he was bad – he was given very little time in the pocket. The line needs to make it priority number one to keep their quarterback upright.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Enrollment: 34,099 (main campus)
2018 record: 5-3, (4-3 SEC)
Head coach: Will Muschamp
Regardless of which version of this year’s team shows up on Saturday, they will get South Carolina’s best effort. The Gamecocks will be trying to snap a streak of 8 consecutive losses to top 25 teams and build on recent success against the Gators.
Carolina has won 3 of the last 5 meetings, including 2 of the last 4 in the Swamp. Adding even more fuel to that fire, is the chance for back to back victories over Will Muschamp‘s former team.
Though this is a very winnable game for the Gators, they are going to have to dig deep and fight.It is in moments like these that we discover who we truly are and what we are made of.
The easy thing is to just go through the motions and play to end the season. The Gator standard has never been about the easy things.
So, are the Gators capable of playing to the Gator standard that has eluded this program for the better part of a decade? Or will they continue to feel sorry for themselves and come out lifeless, once again? Saturday provides a new opportunity to define themselves.
This weekend’s game is set for kickoff at 12 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network. Be sure to follow along with all of the action on the ChompTalk.com Facebook and Twitter accounts.