South Carolina's offense looks to finally be somewhat on a good track. Somewhat, in comparison to how it looked at times early in the season. They set a season-high in points (28) against Texas A&M and put up 24 against Tennessee last week, and have averaged 418 yards a game in their last three outings against Vanderbilt, the Aggies and the Vols.
However, those three teams can't match what the Florida Gators bring to the table defensively.
The Gators come into Saturday's game ranked near the top of several defensive categories. They're allowing the sixth-fewest yards per game in FBS (288.8), second in the SEC only to Alabama's 265.3. Florida defenders have recorded 27 sacks this year; only Alabama has more among league members. It will be tough to get anything going on the ground for the Gamecocks: Florida allows just 114.4 yards rushing (19th nationally). Plan on putting up a lot of points against the Gators? Not likely. The most they've allowed all year is 35; they've allowed 24 points or more just three times. Take those three games out, and they give up an average of just 7.5. (With those added in, that rises to 14.6 a game, tied for 4th in FBS.)
Who drives the bus defensively for the Gators? A lot of guys, but one of the key players to watch is Antonio Morrison. The 6'1", 229-pound senior has rung up 71 tackles (9.0 TFLs) and 1.5 sacks. And while the Gators' Jonathan Bullard (13.0 TFLs, 5.0 sacks) is a game-time decision, don't forget his linemate Alex McAllister, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks and is second to Bullard in tackles for losses (9.5). That is a nightmare matchup for the Gamecocks' offensive line, and they'll need to be on their toes as defensive coordinator Geoff Collins (who, if he turns in another performance like this next year, may become a hot coaching candidate) likes to mix it up from time to time and leave opponents guessing. I'd also look out for plenty of LB blitzes - as Collins has strongly relied on players like Morrison and Jarrad Davis in his defensive scheme - turning the pressure onto Brandon Shell, Alan Knott and company. Oh, by the way, there's also Vernon Hargreaves III, one of the best CBs in the country (if not the best). He'll likely draw the assignment of shutting down Pharoh Cooper, so Perry Orth will need to rely on other members of his receiving corps (including Terry Googer and Matrick Belton) to make the plays when they need to be made.
All in all, it's going to likely be tough to get much of anything going against the Gators. However, if the Gamecocks can do what Vanderbilt was able to do last week and keep Treon Harris bottled up (forcing them to rely on the run; the Gators have the 24th-worst rushing offense in the nation) while exploiting an offensive line that Jim McElwain hasn't been very satisfied with, they might stand a chance of pulling off what would be a massive upset that would spell the end of any outside playoff or New Year's Six hopes Florida may have had.