After suffering their first loss of the season, the No. 9 Florida Gators (6-1, 3-1) will look to bounce back this week. They face another SEC-foe on the road, as they travel to Columbia for a date with the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3, 2-2).
The Gators will see a familiar face across the sidelines in Will Muschamp. The former Florida coach will look for another upset win, with the Gamecocks shocking the Georgia Bulldogs last week in Athens.
And as for Florida, they look to put their LSU loss in the rear-view mirror and focus on the task at hand. The Gators will hope to respond to defeat and come ready to play from the first whistle.
With that being said, here are the five Gators on the spot this week to perform, should they leave Columbia and head into the bye week with the win.
- Trey Dean III, Defensive Back
His struggles moving over to the STAR role have been well-documented. After a breakout freshman year, expectations were high for Trey Dean’s sophomore season. He’s done very little to live up to those expectations and has been one of Florida’s weaker links in the secondary. After struggling mightily against LSU, Dean was benched and Todd Grantham opted to move Marco Wilson inside. Will the Gators give him another chance at the STAR role again or will they move Dean around? Either way, he needs to have a good game. It would be a huge plus for the defense and maybe most importantly, a much-needed boost of confidence for the young defensive back.
- Zach Carter, Defensive Lineman
The Gators defensive line was all the talk at the half-way mark of the season. Rightfully so, as they showed they were capable of taking games over up-front. But now, Florida is banged up along their line. The Gators figure to be without the services of Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, their best pass-rushers. Therefore, someone has to step up and get after whoever is under center for the Gamecocks. That’s where Zach Carter needs to step up for the Gators. They seemingly got no penetration upfront last week when their two best pass-rushers went to the sidelines. That can’t be the case once again this week. Carter should be given a lot more snaps and Florida needs him to be disruptive upfront.
- Lamical Perine, Running back
Saturday in Columbia figures to be a wet one, with the chance of rain projected to be near 100%. That should make for some interesting game-play pending the conditions. Should weather be a major factor, it’ll be interesting to see if it effects Dan Mullen’s play-calling. Regardless of the game plan, Lamical Perine figures to play a large factor should the Gators win. They will be facing another stout defensive-front who just silenced Georgia’s ground attack and yards could be hard to come by. The Gators need Perine to continue to run hard like he’s been the past couple weeks and break a few extra effort runs. Should weather play a huge factor, the Gators may be more reliant on the ground game, and if that’s the case, they need Perine to be productive.
- Jeremiah Moon – Defensive Lineman
Much like Carter, the Gators need Jeremiah Moon to fill the other pass-rushing void. He’s quietly had a really good year under the likes of Greenard and Zuniga. Now with their absence likely Saturday, Moon has the chance to make a statement game. His individual improvement has been a key to the Gators defense’s early success. Moon should likely be the main guy at the BUCK position Saturday which will give him the chance to make some plays. The Gators gave LSU quarterback Joe Burrow far too much time to dissect the defense last week. The Gators can’t allow the same for whoever is under center for South Carolina, and Moon figures to have to play a key role in getting to the quarterback.
- Right Side of Offensive Line
There’s no around it, the right side of Florida’s offensive line has been abysmal. Chris Bleich and Jean Delance just aren’t where they need to be. We’ve seen some shuffling along the line, but Bleich and Delance’s names continue to be at the top of the depth chart at their positions. Mullen and offensive line coach John Hevesy seem to have faith in the two and it’s time for them to show why. The Gators offensive line while face another tough defensive front and one that is good against the run. Another test upfront will give Bleich and Delance a chance to make a statement should they be able to slow down the Gamecocks penetration on their side.