COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With a loss to top-ranked Georgia now behind them, Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks now turn their attention to a Florida squad who has had their share of setbacks this season.
"Obviously, Florida has been through a lot of adversity this year, through some suspensions to start the year, some critical injuries they've had throughout the year and obviously losing the head football coach," said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. "I know it's probably taken its mental toll, but they've still got a lot of good players and some talented guys on the football team -- some guys obviously we're very familiar with."
Quarterback Feleipe Franks is the leading passer for Florida. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 928 yards and five touchdowns in eight games played. However, the Gators also utilize former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire at times to take snaps for Florida.
"We need to have recognition obviously of who's in the game at the time," said Muschamp. "There's only so much you can change in a week or two's time as far as who you are and what you're doing. Obviously, there'll be some new things. I think they do a good job each week of giving you some things that you need to adjust to in the game, whether it's the run game or the pass concepts or a motion or a shift of formation. We need to be able to quickly adjust to that."
The Gators' ground attack is spearheaded by Malik Davis and Lamical Perine. Together, the two backs have rushed for 938 yards and eight touchdowns. However, the Gators are ranked last in scoring offense and first downs. Still, the Gamecocks have no plans to overlook Florida despite their struggles.
"They have a lot of athletes on offense," said Gamecocks linebacker T.J. Brunson. "They're going to come out and fight regardless of who they have."
"I talked to our guys Monday about not being fooled by the tape from the last two weeks," said Muschamp. "Let's go back and watch Tennessee, let's go back and watch LSU and let's go back and watch A&M. Let's go back and watch those game tapes. They've had a lot of uncertainty off the field. Having been through it, it is a distraction. It will take its mental toll on you.
"That's why the consistent message from me all the time is about our preparation and how we prepare. How we go about our business and our preparation for the game is going to determine the outcome. It's not about what the other team does. Certainly, we respect our opponents, their players, their schemes and things like that. But our preparation is the most important thing. That's why it's always the consistent message, so you shouldn't have a lot of variance in how you play."
Defensively, the Gators allow just over 28 points and 372 yards per game. David Reese leads the Gators with 71 tackles while CeCe Jefferson has seven tackles for loss this season. The Gators are 13th in the SEC with just 15 sacks to their credit, but Muschamp knows these Florida players can be disruptive against offenses.
"Defensively, they're fast and athletic. It jumps out at you. Taven Bryant, the inside player they've got, is a very disruptive player, a guy that we've got to account for in the run game and the pass game. He can break your day. He's a really good football player. He probably played as fine a game inside against Texas A&M as I've seen in this league in a while. Duke Dawson is a guy on the back end that plays extremely well. He can play safety, corner and nickel. He's got man and zone instincts. He makes a lot of plays on the ball, a dangerous guy there.
"Then you've got two freshman corners that are playing at a really high level -- Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson. C.J.'s got three or four interceptions on the year. He's having a really good year. Chauncey Gardner does a nice job. Cece Jefferson; (Jabari) Zuniga is a guy on the edge that is an issue. You've got to account for (him) in the pass rush. Khairi Clark does a nice job inside. They've got a talented defense.
South Carolina will host Florida at Williams-Brice Stadium at noon.