As goes Connor Shaw's patience in the pocket, so go the Gamecocks - Streeter Lecka
An extremely last minute look at what the Gamecocks need to do on either side of the ball.
One of the mantras that Steve Spurrier has gone back to several times in the week leading into the Florida game is that Connor Shaw took off running too frequently on pass attempts in Baton Rogue. It was something that Shaw himself said was a goal of his in the offseason: to develop better pocket presence, moving his feet to avoid pressure while staying in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield. But Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus have remained cognizant of the danger of taking away Connor Shaw's instinct to run when things are breaking down. As good of a passer as they believe Shaw can be, Number 14 has had a knack for extending drives by scrambling out of the pocket on third down when the opponent is dropping seven into pass coverage.
But the Gamecocks face a Florida Gators defense today with a very curious statistical profile. Despited being right up there with South Carolina in the second tier of elite SEC defenses, the Gators do not get very much pressure on the quarterback:
The interesting thing here is that the Gators lack of QB pressure has not come at the expense of allowing explosive plays in the passing game, which Florida has only given up on 7.21% of their opponents' pass attempts. So while Connor Shaw may have the time to throw in this game, the key for him will be keeping his eyes downfield and making good decisions with the football, something that he had done in each of his 14 career starts prior to the LSU game. With the Gators being as good as they are defending the run and the Gamecocks being surprisingly average in that department so far this season, I firmly believe that, if the Gamecocks are going to win, Connor Shaw will need to have a big day throwing the football.
On the other side of the ball, the message that has reverberated throughout the state of South Carolina this week is that Lorenzo Ward's defense needs to make Florida throw the ball, and it's really hard to argue with that logic. Florida doesn't throw the ball very frequently, but, when they do, good things tend to happen for them even less frequently:
A few more last minute notes:
Assuming he hasn't succumbed to the flu, T.J. Johnson will surpass Cliff Matthews as the all-time leader in career starts with 48.
If Marcus Lattimore is healthy enough to score two touchdowns, he will move into second place in career points (252) at South Carolina, passing Ryan Succop.
That's all I've got in this extremely last minute post, but I just wanted to get this out there.