Five things to know about Florida-South Carolina game

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports

South Caroline (0-1) at No. 3 Florida (1-0)

TV: 12 p.m., ESPN. Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850. Favorite: Gators by 17.5.

1. Muschamp returns — again

 Even though Florida fired him 12 games into the 2014 season, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he always looks forward to coming back to his former home. This will be his third return to The Swamp as the USC head coach. "Very fond feelings (about Florida)," he said. "We enjoyed our time in Gainesville. We didn't win enough games. Great people, great university, outstanding program. Very good memories for me. Jeremy Foley and I had a great conversation about 10 minutes before we played last year. He came down in my locker room. I'm sure I'll see him on Saturday."

He's back. South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp watches the action last week against the Tennessee Vols.

2. Rivalry renewal: Grantham vs. Bobo

 This won't be the first time coordinator Todd Grantham has coached his defense against new South Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. The two used to go against each other every day at practice when they were on the same Georgia staff under Mark Richt. "I know Mike real well," Grantham said. "He’s a really good coach. He’s tough, he’s competitive. He’s going to get after guys, he’s going to challenge guys. We’ve got to understand we’re going to get their best shot when they come in here.”

3. A boost for the defense

 The Gators started last week's opener without three defensive starters. Rush end Jeremiah Moon, tackle Kyree Campbell and safety Brad Stewart were all held out for unspecific reasons. Then the defense lost a fourth starter 10 plays into the game when safety Shawn Davis was ejected for targeting. The defense had major problems with those four out and so many young players pressed into duty. The good news is those guys got some important reps that could help out down the line and now the four missing starters from last week are back and ready to give the defense a potential boost.

4. Key matchup

Will Florida tight end Kyle Pitts give the South Carolina defense fits Saturday in The Swamp?

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts vs. the South Carolina secondary:

 As the nation saw last week in Oxford, Miss., Pitts, with his combination of size, strength, speed and hands, is a nightmare match-up for opposing secondaries and outside linebackers. He's too big for most cornerbacks to handle and usually too fast for safeties and outside linebackers. But the Gamecocks just might have an answer for putting a dent in the Kyle-to-Kyle connection of Pitts and quarterback Kyle Trask. His name is Israel Mukuamu. Not only is he one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC, maybe the nation, he's also one of the biggest and fastest, so the Gamecockers might want to consider manning him up on Pitts. Fellow cornerback Jaycee Horn also had good size and strength and might be able to hold his own. Here's one thing South Carolina might try to avoid: covering Pitts with safeties R.J. Roderick and Jammie Robinson. Both are solid players but lack the size to take on Pitts man-to-man. They might have some success if they double team him, but that may be the only way.


5. Saturday's game questions

1. How strange is it going to seem in The Swamp with so few fans? What will the atmosphere be like?

2. Will the Florida defense rebound from last week's poor performance, or will it be more of the same Saturday?

 3. With the South Carolina defense likely focusing on trying to contain tight end Kyle Pitts, which other receiver has a big game today?

4. The running game appears to be coming around for the Gators. Will they show more progress on that front?

5. Evan McPherson has become a consistent weapon. Will he be perfect again on his field goal and extra point attempts?

Click back Sunday for Andreu’s answers

Andreu’s pick: Florida 38, South Carolina 24

(Season record: 1-0)