Gators Gameday: 3 questions for the Florida Gators heading into Saturday's game with South Carolina
Three questions for Florida heading into Saturday's matchup with South Carolina at The Swamp (4 p.m., SEC Network):
Can the Gators build off second-half defensive performance vs. Texas A&M?
Much-maligned Florida defensive coordinator Patrick Toney has tried to make adjustments the past few weeks, but ultimately, it comes down to player performance.
"We have to be on the same page as far as just, you know, players," Florida cornerback Jaydon Hill said. "We have to execute it. Patrick Toney can only do so much. He gives us the calls, and we have to execute it. You can't fault Coach Toney."
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Who will control the line of scrimmage?
Both South Carolina and Florida have had issues stopping the run. The Gamecocks rank 11th in run defense at 171.8 yards per game allowed, while Florida ranks 12th at 185.3 yards per game given up.
Florida is coming off a game in which it rushed for a season-high 291 yards against Texas A&M and its 5.9 yards per carry ranks second in FBS.
South Carolina could be without starting running back MarShawn Lloyd, who is questionable with a deep thigh bruise. Lloyd is averaging 5.59 yards per carry. With Lloyd out last week against Vanderbilt, South Carolina turned to starting tight end Jaheim Bell for carries. Bell rushed for 58 yards on 16 carries.
Can Florida prevent South Carolina from big plays on special teams?
The Gators haven't allowed an explosive play on a punt or kick return all season as Florida has been solid in both coverage units.
South Carolina, which ranks third in the SEC in punt returns (15.4 ypr) and second in kickoff returns (27.3 ypr) will present another challenge.
Key Matchup: Florida LTs Richard Gouraige and Austin Barber vs. South Carolina edge rusher Jordan Burch:
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Burch recorded 4 tackles and a sack last week against Vanderbilt and has 3.5 sacks on the season.
Gouraige, playing his last game at The Swamp, and Barber are now splitting reps at left tackle with Michael Tarquin back playing right tackle.
All three tackles will need to be mindful of where Burch is on the field and keep him from creating havoc on the edge. Florida has allowed 9 sacks in 9 games this season, which ranks third in the SEC.