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Take Five Breakdown: Florida-South Carolina Preview

November 5, 2021
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This Saturday in Palmetto State, Dan Mullen’s Florida football squad is looking to rebound from a 4-4 start as they take on South Carolina. 

Inside the Gators has the very latest on the match-up in this Game Week Breakdown.

Allen Barney spoke with Ben Portnoy of The State and Joe Macheca of The Daily Gamecock, for answers to five burning questions as well as previewing five USC players Gator fans should keep an eye on this weekend.

Five South Carolina Gamecocks to keep an eye on

Josh Vann, Wide Receiver, Senior

  • The Skinny: Van is not the biggest receiver in the conference, but he makes it up for it with blazing speed and reliable hands. Vann leads the team with 24 receptions, 431 yards and two touchdowns. He put up 100+ yard efforts against East Carolina and Georgia with 127 and 128 yards respectively. With his knack for making big plays, the Gators will have to keep an eye on Vann to make sure he does not slip behind the coverage. With the Gators secondary giving up a big play or two in the passing game every week, I would not be surprised if Vann burns the Gators for a long touchdown.

Jaylan Foster, Safety, Redshirt Senior

  • The Skinny: It’s been a long road for Foster, after spending a year at Gardner-Webb, Foster has been with the Gamecock program since 2017. By slowly working his way up from the scout team to a bonafide SEC starter thanks to an FBS-high five interceptions through the first eight games of the season. I would expect Foster to be matched up with Jacob Copeland as he looks to shut down the few deep looks that Copeland and others will get in the game. Foster has been everywhere for the South Carolina defense as he leads the team 42 tackles and has also chipped in two sacks.

Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare, Edge Rusher, Senior

  • The Skinny: According to Portnoy, Enagbare is a likely first-round pick and experts, and coaches evidently agree, honoring Enagbare with first-team All-SEC honors in 2020. The Georgia native leads the team with five tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, which is tied for fifth in the SEC. Both Gator quarterbacks have struggled at times with blitz recognition and have taken sacks from talented edge rushers such as Enagbare. It could be a long day for the offensive line as they look to keep him from creating havoc in the pocket.

JuJu McDowell, Running Back, Freshman

  • The Skinny: McDowell may only 5-feet-9-inches tall and 177 pounds, but his speed and versatility are game-changing. The Swiss army knife of the Gamecock offense, McDowell is third on the team with 43 carries and 291 yards to go along with leading the team with 227 kick return yards and an average of 32.4 yards per return. The Gators kickoff coverage has been an issue all season and McDowell can turn the complexion of a game with a kickoff return for a touchdown. “McDowell carried USC to a win over East Carolina. Expect him to play a factor on special teams and out of the backfield.,” Portnoy said.

Jordan Burch, Edge Rusher, Sophomore

  • The Skinny: Enagbare is the current face of the defense for South Carolina, but Burch is the future of the defense because of the hype coming into college and the amount of talent that just oozes out of the South Carolina native. Other than a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown against Eastern Illinois in the season opener he has not made much of an impact, but it only takes one breakout game for an uber-talented player such as Burch to gain confidence and go on a tear. I expect Burch to be used in run support and rushing the quarterback(s) to create turnovers for the South Carolina defense.

Five Fast Facts

  • This will be the 42nd meeting between the Gators and Gamecocks, with the Gators leading the series 29-9-3 and are 12-7-1 in Columbia.
  • The Gamecocks have won 5 of the last 11 matchups with the Gators after losing 18 of the previous 19 meetings. The last time South Carolina beat Florida was in 2017 by a score of 28-20 with 469 yards on offense, which was their highest yardage total during that season.
  • The Gamecocks have scored at least 24 points in the past four meetings with the Gators after not reaching that total in the previous six matchups. Over those four games, the Gamecocks are 1-3 against the Gators.
  • There are two former Florida connections on the current South Carolina coaching staff. Former Gator linebacker Mike Peterson is the defensive ends and linebacker coach for South Carolina. Torrian Gray coached the Gator cornerbacks in 2019 and 2020 and is now the defensive backs coach for the Gamecocks.
  • South Carolina leads the SEC with 17 turnovers forced, 11 of those 17 being interceptions. Their three interceptions returned for touchdowns are the most in a season for the program since 2010 when they returned five for touchdowns. The Gamecocks are outscoring opponents 60-19 in the 4th quarter and have 4th quarter comeback wins against East Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Five Game Day Storylines

Will the South Carolina fans create a raucous environment for the visiting Gators?

  • The Gators have struggled on the road in 2021, the noise from the crowd at Kentucky wreaked havoc on the communication between the offensive line and the quarterbacks. At LSU, the Gators cleaned up the penalties but could never keep momentum when Anthony Richardson led four touchdown drives for the offense because the fans stayed in the game and gave LSU energy to keep moving forward and pull the upset. “Williams-Brice will be going ballistic come kickoff. There’s always something to be said for November night games in Columbia. No matter how bad the team is, the atmosphere feels different. You can feel it down your spine.” Macheca said.

Can the Gamecock defense follow the script of other defenses and force the Gators into multiple turnovers?

  • The biggest issue for the Gator offense in 2021 is turnovers and it has gone to another level the previous two games. The four interceptions thrown by Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson against LSU kept the team from winning in Death Valley despite the defense giving up 42 points. Richardson’s three turnovers in the span of two minutes and change against Georgia changed the game from competitive to a blowout. The Gators have the worst turnover margin in the SEC at negative 7 and with the Gamecocks’ knack for creating turnovers, this recipe could lead to disaster for the Gator offense as Emory Jones is still looking for his first conference road win or Anthony Richardson (if healthy) would be making his first road start in the SEC.

With Luke Doty out for the year and Zeb Noland having minor surgery on his meniscus last week, who will be QB1 for the Gamecocks?

  • Jason Brown of Fredericksburg, Virginia transferred to South Carolina in the off-season the FCS level of St. Francis (Pa.) College. After not playing much in 2017 and 2018, Brown took the NEC conference by storm in 2019 as he led the conference 3,084 passing yards and 28 touchdown passes. After the NEC moved their season to the spring of 2021, Brown landed in Columbia. Brown got his first taste of SEC action against Texas A&M two weeks ago and went 8-14 for 84 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. While there is no clear decision on Noland’s status, Macheca and Portnoy both said that Brown would take over and lead the offense if Noland cannot play. This could an interesting development because the Gators do not have much film on Brown and may not know his strengths and weaknesses.

If the South Carolina defense cannot force turnovers, can the offense lead the team to a win?

  • The offense has had its fair share of issues and the data backs this theory up. The offense 13th in the SEC in points per game, 13th in yards per game and 11th in pass/rush yards per game. For all the work the defense has done in creating turnovers, the offense turns it over just as much with 17 turnovers and 10 of those being lost fumbles. Most of this was under Noland and Doty so there is a possibility that Brown can create a spark and bring this offense to a new level, but it will be tall task to ask a quarterback who has only played one SEC game in his career.

What is the running back rotation for the Gamecocks?

  • Kevin Harris burst onto the scene in 2020 by finishing second in the SEC with 1,138 rushing yards. His breakout game came in week two against the Gators when he had 22 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown, he also chipped in four catches and a touchdown in the Swamp. Things haven’t been as clear at the position in 2021, head coach Shane Beamer has said that whoever has the best week in practice will be the main running back, according to Macheca. “Look for Zaquandre White and JuJu McDowell to get touches early and often.,” Portnoy said. White leads the team with 291 rushing yards on 28 less carries than Harris and MarShawn Lloyd could play a factor as he looks to carry the momentum gained from scoring his first career college touchdown against Texas A&M two weeks ago.

Game Prediction

Florida 27, South Carolina 13

Take Five Breakdown: Florida-South Carolina Preview

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