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3. Florida’s Kicking Game
Florida PK Caleb Sturgis‘s status for this weekend is unknown. If Sturgis doesn’t play, the Gators will again look to P Chas Henry to maintain PK duties. Henry made a clutch kick to beat the Georgia Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago, but he’s not an elite PK and it remains to be seen how consistent he can be. If this game is close, we should have an advantage in having a better PK in Spencer Lanning. Although Lanning’s performance over the past few weeks hasn’t exactly been one to inspire confidence, his track record remains a good one.
2. Defensive Aggression
Florida is known for having an aggressive, ball-hawking passing defense, and that remains the case this year. Florida is currently second in the nation in team INTs, and the Gators have returned a few of those for TDs. This should come as no surprise to Gamecocks fans, who have suffered the brunt of some brutal Gators INTs over the years. We can’t allow any big plays of this sort to occur in this game, so Stephen Garcia will need to be extra smart when he’s throwing the football.
1. Marcus Lattimore and the Running Game
If you look back at each game we’ve played this season, you’ll notice a trend in how our offense performs. When the offensive line is opening holes and Lattimore is running the ball well, we have a pretty good offense. When that’s not happening, our offense is very pedestrian, essentially the same as last year’s if not worse. The only exception to this rule was the first three quarters of the Auburn game; Auburn locked down Lattimore, but an extraordinary game from Stephen Garcia (until the fumbles, of course) helped us stay in it. Although it continues to baffle me that we can’t seem to move the ball effectively via other means, I think we now have enough evidence to suggest that if we’re unable to get Lattimore going, we’re unable to score enough points to win ball games. Will we be able to run against Florida? Perhaps not. The Gators currently rank 28th in the nation in rushing defense and will be tough to run against. A lot, I think, depends on what our approach is. If I were Steve Spurrier and crew, I would (1) think about running out of the I more often. We seem to run the ball better when Lattimore has a lead blocker. (2), I would advise Stephen Garcia to keep the ball when we’re running the zone read and the DE crashes. Garcia’s disinclination to keep the ball has led to the DE crashing on more or less every zone-read play, and Garcia can make the Gators pay–as well as open things up for Lattimore–if he keeps it from time to time. Lastly, I would (3) work the short passing game. An attack that has only two speeds–running it up the middle and passing vertically–is designed to fail against an aggressive defense like Florida’s.