Gator Gameday: Storylines, question marks and key matchup for Florida at South Carolina

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Things to watch in Florida’s road game against South Carolina.

Storylines for Florida Gators-South Carolina

1. The Gators and Gamecocks both enter Saturday’s matchup at 4-4, with all of their losses coming in SEC play. Both teams lost to Georgia by 27 points and Kentucky by one score. South Carolina is trying to avoid its third consecutive losing season, while Florida hasn’t had a losing record since 2017. That’s also the last time USC beat the Gators, who’ve won three straight and five of the last six games in this series. 

2. Neither team has announced a starting quarterback, though the writing has been on the wall with the Gators. Anthony Richardson made his first career start against Georgia, but left the game with a concussion and missed practice this week. Emory Jones is expected to regain his job and will be going for his first SEC road win as a starter. South Carolina’s Zeb Noland returned from meniscus surgery this week and competed with grad transfer Jason Brown, who is presumably in line for the nod. 

3. Turnovers once again killed the Gators in their loss to Georgia, though all three were committed by Richardson. Florida is tied with Southern Miss for the most interceptions thrown in the FBS (14), including nine picks by Jones against 10 touchdown passes. His ball security issues will be tested tonight by South Carolina’s secondary. The Gamecocks’ 11 interceptions are tied for first in the SEC and No. 8 nationally, and their pass defense is only allowing 177.5 yards per game (12th nationally). 

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Today's game questions

1. Back in his starting role, how does Emory Jones perform on the road?

2. Can Florida take care of the ball after seven turnovers in their last two losses?

3. Do the Gators rush for 200 yards for the first time since the Tennessee game? 

4. Can Florida get pressure on USC’s quarterback(s) and force some bad throws?

5. Will the UF defense limit scores after giving up 69 points to LSU and UGA?

Click back Sunday for Abolverdi's answers.

Abolverdi’s pick: Florida 31, South Carolina 17.

More:Gators need first SEC road win at USC to avoid losing record

Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) changes a play from the line in the second half against Georgia last Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

Key matchup 

Florida’s rush offense vs. South Carolina’s rush defense:

Given Florida’s turnover woes and South Carolina’s elite pass defense, look for the Gators to lean on their ground game in this matchup. They rank first in the country in yards per carry (6.07), but haven’t eclipsed 200 yards rushing in their last four games. That trend could end against the Gamecocks, who are allowing 168.9 yards rushing per game. Their rush defense ranks 87th nationally and 11th in the SEC, while Florida has the nation’s sixth-best rush offense at 242.6 yards per game.