Florida Gators football: 5 players to watch for Saturday's game against South Carolina
Five players to watch for the Florida Gators in Saturday's game against the South Carolina Gamecocks (4 p.m., SEC Network):
Quarterback Anthony Richardson
Richardson has gone three straight games without a turnover and will look to continue his mistake-free play in his final game of the season at The Swamp against South Carolina. He is coming off a game in which he accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) against Texas A&M. For the season, Richardson has passed for 1,839 yards and 9 TDs while rushing for 488 yards and 8 TDs.
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Running back Montrell Johnson Jr.
Johnson has rushed for a team-high 549 yards on 6.0 yards per carry with 8 rushing TDs on the season, He's posted two 100-yard rushing games, including last week against Texas A&M, when he ran for a season-high 22 times for 100 yards and one TD. Johnson and freshman Trevor Etienne have emerged as the top two running backs in UF's rotation. "Our two skill sets combine really well because he's a very shifty guy," Johnson said. "I call myself a hard-nosed guy. I get the dirty yards sometimes, the long run sometimes. He's the guy that does, makes guys miss."
Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall
Pearsall combined for 99 yards of offense last week with 3 catches for 65 yards and 3 rushes for 34 yards. With wide receiver Justin Shorter questionable with a hamstring injury and wide receiver Ja'Quavion Fraziars out with a shoulder injury, Florida will need Pearsall and other receivers to step up on Saturday. Florida coach Billy Napier has found creative ways to get the ball in Pearsall's hands, based on his playmaking ability. "Ricky has obviously proven he's one of the better players that we have from a production standpoint," Napier said. "He's really a skilled player." For the season, Pearsall has 22 catches for 406 yards and 2 TDs, with 111 yards and 1 TD rushing.
Edge rusher Austin Powell-Ryland, Jr.
The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Powell-Ryland Jr. handled the starting edge rush position with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble on a strip sack last week. He will be counted on for more production from that spot against South Carolina. From Portsmouth, Va., Powell-Ryland grew up in the same hometown as former Gator basketball standout and current Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith and watched him play basketball in high school. "He's rooting for me," Powell-Ryland said. "He supported me as - wherever I wanted to go - because it wasn't just about this. But, of course, this is his school. He really wanted me to come here."
Linebacker Ventrell Miller
It will be an emotional senior day for Miller, who has been Florida's most vocal and consistent player on defense. Miller ranks third on the Gators in tackles with 58, including 5.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. "He's the heart of the team, for sure," Powell-Ryland said. "I tried to pick up from whatever I can get from him to try to help him out, make his job easier."