- Jeff Barlis, College Football
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With a little less pressure swirling around the program after the school president and the athletic director gave head coach Will Muschamp their votes of confidence on Wednesday, the Florida Gators (4-5, 3-4 in the SEC) visit Columbia, S.C. to face the No. 10 Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2). Here are five things to watch:
1. Who starts at quarterback? Florida QB Tyler Murphy did not practice all week, Muschamp revealed Thursday night. Murphy is dealing with lingering soreness from an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder suffered against LSU on Oct. 12. If he can't play on Saturday, redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg, who has never taken a college snap, will get his first career start. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease says he's comfortable with Mornhinweg, pronouncing him "ready to go" earlier in the week. The son of New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg also has the confidence of his offensive teammates, although the Florida offense remains mired in a season-long funk. The Gators are last in the SEC in total offense, averaging 335.7 yards a game.
2. SC's defensive front vs. UF's offensive line: With two sacks on the season, Gamecocks junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney hasn't piled up the same flashy numbers as last year (13 sacks). But Clowney remains a focal point of blocking schemes and offensive game plans. South Carolina DT Kelcy Quarles benefits from all that attention and has produced this season (7 sacks). Florida's O-line has been decimated by injuries but at least has the continuity of the same personnel as last week. The problem, however, is those same players yielded five sacks and nine tackles for loss to Vanderbilt.
3. The revenge factor: Williams-Brice Stadium is a tough-enough place to play at night with a national cable TV audience (ESPN2). On Saturday, the Gamecocks ought to be even more motivated by what happened last year. Florida ambushed South Carolina, winning 44-11 with four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception). The Gators won that game without needing much from their offense, as Florida was held to 183 yards but limited USC to 191 yards. Even without the taste of revenge, this year's game should be important enough to South Carolina, which is still alive in the SEC East race. Win, and it's done all they could to apply pressure to division-leading Missouri. Lose, and there's little hope of going to Atlanta.
4. Run defense vs. Mike Davis: One of the more intriguing subplots of this game will take place when Florida plays defense. Steve Spurrier's offense has become known for much more balance at South Carolina compared to his pass-happy days as Head Ball Coach at Florida. It helps to have the SEC's leading rusher in do-it-all sophomore Mike Davis, who is also the team's second-leading receiver with 29 catches. Davis will square off against a UF run defense that has given up 165.5 yards a game in its last four games. And the Gators can expect to run into an amped-up foe, one who was once committed to the orange and blue for nearly a year, as Davis tweeted last weekend how "hungry" he is to beat UF.
5. Streak-breakers? When Michigan lost at home last week to Nebraska, the Gamecocks immediately became owners of the longest home-winning streak in the nation with 15 in a row. Win today, and SC would also set a new school record for consecutive home wins. There's also a major streak on the line for Florida, as the Gators need two wins in their last three games in order to be bowl eligible and extend the nation's second-longest active bowl streak to 23 years. The history of the Florida-South Carolina series favors UF, which won 18 of 19 games from 1964-2009. But the Gamecocks on Saturday will be looking to further turn the tide with a third win in their last four meetings with Florida.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With a little less pressure swirling around the program after the school president and the athletic director gave head coach Will Muschamp their votes of confidence on Wednesday, the Florida Gators (4-5, 3-4 in the SEC) visit Columbia, S.