When Steve Spurrier comes back to The Swamp (as he will be doing for the fourth time as an opposing coach), it’s pretty safe to say: expect the unexpected, whether it’s a throw-back pass to the quarterback or a fake punt or one of his favorites — the Emory & Henry formation.
Having covered Spurrier during his 12 years at Florida, I think I have a pretty good feel for this guy. Here’s what I think he’s going to throw at Florida: the football. He’s going to air it out with quarterback Connor Shaw.
The Gamecocks have been winning with a more conservative approach — run the ball, play strong defense and win the special teams battle. But that formula did not work last Saturday in Baton Rouge, where a fast and physical LSU defense ate up the South Carolina running game. Florida has a chance to do the same thing Saturday. Knowing that, Spurrier is going to have his quarterback throwing on the Gators right from the start. On the very first USC offensive play. I’m convinced that’s what Spurrier is going to do.
After the loss to LSU, Spurrier expressed his frustration over Shaw taking off and running instead of throwing the ball on called pass plays. When Shaw finally did what Spurrier wanted, the Gamecocks went right down the field and scored a touchdown with their passing game in the fourth quarter.
Obviously, Florida is going to come out Saturday and try to shut down the run and make USC one-dimensional. That’s what the Gators do. My thought is Spurrier is going to take the approach he did when he was at Florida. He’s going to establish the passing game first, which then will create opportunities in the running game.
So, that’s my first prediction. The Gamecocks are going to come out and try to throw the ball all over the lot.
My second prediction is this that the UF secondary will be up to the challenge and win that crucial battle.
Whether the Gamecocks go with their version of the Fun ‘n’ Gun or not, this is going to be another tough, physical, emotional game in The Swamp, similar to the LSU game two weeks ago.
A lot of the national media boys are going with the Gamecocks on this one.
I’m going with the team that has the momentum at the moment, the team that remembers Spurrier and the Gamecocks celebrating on Florida Field two years ago, the team that now seems to thrive in these tough, physical SEC games.
It’s going to be close. It’s going to go down to the wire. But the Gators will find a way again.
Prediction: Florida 16, South Carolina 14.