SEC East Championship Preview: Gators Vs. Gamecocks

University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Students: 50,691

Head Coach: Urban III (63-13 in 6th season as head coach)

Stadium: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (The Swamp) Capacity- 88,548

2010 Record: ( 6-3 overall 4-3 SEC)

Record against USC: Florida leads the series 23-4-3,  USC is 0-12 in The Swamp

Famous Alumni: Emmitt Smith(NFL Hall of Fame) Wendy Thomas(Dave Thomas daughter, Wendy’s Fast Food)  Stephen Stills(CSN Guitarist), Erin Andrews (ESPN) Hal Steinbrenner(New York Yankee’s) Jenn Brown(ESPN) Bob Vila(Home Improvement Guru) Gene Chizik (Auburn Football Coach) and Steve Spurrier (Carolina’s Head Coach)

Florida’s Offense vs. Gamecock Defense:This game will determine the SEC East Champion, and might be considered the biggest game in USC football history.  Spurrier once against will return to the swamp looking to prove that his Gamecocks are read to be taken seriously in the SEC.

Florida’s offense might have had its problems earlier in the season, but has gotten back on track the last two games scoring a combined 89 points.  The opposite can be said for the Gamecocks defense, as it has given up 65 points in its last 2 games.

By the numbers: Through 9 games this season, the Gator’s offense is currently averaging 31 points a game, 359 yards of total offense with 158 years coming on the ground and 200 in the air.  Florida’s offense is currently ranked 9th in the SEC in total offense, and 7th in scoring offense.  USC’s defense through 9 games is currently ranked 9th in total defense giving up 369 yards a game.  The problem all season has been pass defense where USC is currently ranked last in the SEC giving up 264 yards a game in the air.

Players to watch out for on Florida’s Offense:The Gators will bring in a 3 QB attack, with John Brantley, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton.  The Gators are also lead on offense by Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.  John Brantley is the starting QB and has passed for 1616 yards on the season with 8 TD and 6 interceptions.  Burton, a WR that runs the spread option for the Gators has 10 rushing touchdowns on the season on only 55 carriers.  Jordan Reed a tight end on the team, has made an impact the past 2 weeks at the QB position, and will cause problems for the Gamecock defense.

Jeff Demps the Gators leading rusher has 488 yards on the season and 3 rushing TD.  The Gators will move speedster Chris Rainey around in the offense, so he can line up as a running back or wide receiver.  Rainey was suspended for a few games this season after he was accused of stalking a girl on campus.  Unfortunately for the Gamecocks Rainey is back and will be a factor in the game on Saturday.

USC’s Offense vs. Florida’s Defense:Florida’s defense is currently ranked 7th in the country in total defense, and 2nd in the SEC.  So far this season Florida’s defense is only giving up 292 yards a game and only allowing 19 points.  The strength of the defense all season has been the Gator’s secondary, which has 17 interceptions on the season.  Garcia will need to make accurate throws or it could be a turnover fest on Saturday.  As for the Gamecocks offense, who look to bounce back from a poor performance against Arkansas, is currently ranked 6th in the SEC in total offense averaging 395 yards a game.  Garcia was ranked 5th in the nation in passing efficiency before the Arkansas game, but has dropped back to 16th.

Players to watch for on the Gator’s defense:  The Gators defense is lead by safety Ahmad Black, CB Janoris Jenkins, and defensive end Justin Trattou.  Black leads the Gators with 77 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 3 interceptions.  Janoris Jenkins also has 3 interceptions on the season and has racked up 36 tackles and 5 tackles for loss.  Justin Trattou has 42 tackles on the season, and 8 of those were for a loss.  The Gators defense has played well all season, and will be the difference in the game on Saturday. If USC can’t move the ball, it could be a long game for the Gamecocks.

What might happen: Coach Myers will have the Swamp fired up, as the fans are planning a “Blue Out” to support their gators.  USC will need to take the crowd out of the game early, so look for Garcia to open up by spreading the ball around to Gurley and Alshon, then allowing Lattimore to do what he does best.  The Florida defense will be keying in on Lattimore, as the offense only goes as far as he will take them, as we found out in the Kentucky game.  USC will rotate in Brian Maddox to keep Lattimore fresh.  Lattimore’s legs will be what will keep the Gamecocks in this game in the 2nd half.

Special teams play a huge factor as the Gators will look to Chas Henry to handle the punting and kicking duties once again.  Henry missed a last second field goal earlier in the season to lose the Miss. State game but redeemed himself 2 weeks ago against Georgia.  Carolina will need to be aggressive on special team, as Florida will look to take advantage of every kickoff and punt as another scoring opportunity.

In the end, it will be a close game that will come down to a late field goal by Spencer Lanning to bring home USC’s first SEC East Crown.

Prediction: Gators 21 Gamecocks 24

LOHD will be at the game but the question is – Can Five Points handle this?