Five keys to victory against South Carolina

One of the keys for Will Muschamp and the Gators is to get off to a fast start. Florida has been dominated in the first quarter in each of its five losses.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:26 p.m.

Florida and South Carolina have played only 33 times despite the fact that the series began in 1911. The two teams played only 12 times before the SEC threw them together in the East.


Saturday's game
Florida (4-5) at South Carolina (7-2)
When: 7 p.m. on Saturday
Radio: WRUF

Florida leads the series 24-6-3, but South Carolina has won two of the last three. The most memorable game was Florida's 17-16 win in 2006 when

Jarvis Moss blocked a last-second Ryan Succop field-goal attempt.

Steve Spurrier was 11-0 against the Gamecocks as the Florida coach, but is 3-5 against Florida at South Carolina.

■ For the Gamecocks to win and stay in the race for the SEC East crown, here are the five things they will have to do:

1. Don't give Florida hope.

The Gators are hurting in more ways than one. Almost half the starters are out with injuries and QB Tyler Murphy is questionable at best. The worst thing South Carolina can do is come out thinking this game will be a cakewalk and allow Florida to believe it can win.

2. Don't fumble.

Which leads to the second point. A year ago, South Carolina treated the football like it was a sack of porcupines and fumbled the game away to Florida. South Carolina leads the SEC with 11 fumbles lost this season.

3. Cut Clowney loose.

Jadeveon Clowney has only two sacks this year, but he'll be going up against inexperienced tackles on either side of the line. If Carolina gets ahead and Florida has to pass, this should be a Clowney game.

4. Be patient.

Florida has a track record for eventually making mistakes, whether they be penalties or turnovers or mental errors. If you wait long enough, like Vandy did, the points will come to you.

5. Know when to step on the accelerator.

Four of South Carolina's last six games have been decided by a touchdown or less. That shouldn't happen against this beat-up Florida team. Steve Spurrier usually knows when to go for the big play down the field.

■ For Florida to win and somehow salvage bowl eligibility with a win next week, here are the five things the Gators have to do:

1. Get started fast.

It would be a nice change. Florida has been dominated in the first quarter of its five losses (LSU didn't score but the quarter ended with the Tigers on the UF 1-yard line). And South Carolina, like the last two teams Florida has faced, has had a bye week to figure out this defense.

2. Slow Mike Davis.

Who had Davis being the SEC's leading rusher this season? He's at 1,058 yards and has allowed Spurrier to throw less than he used to at Florida. The Gators have to take away the running game to have a chance.

3. Win special teams.

They used to be a forte of the Gator teams, but now they are a mess. A blocked punt, a big return, heck, a made field goal could give Florida some momentum.

4. Score in the red zone.

It's been the mantra every week, but it doesn't seem to get better. Not scoring from first-and-goal from the 1-yard line is not going to win you many games.

5. Get stops when you have to.

Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt. When they had to have a drive, they got it. Florida ranks fifth nationally and first in the SEC in total defense, but it has to have stops when they are crucial.

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