Florida vs. South Carolina: Five Gamecocks to watch


Sure, Jadeveon Clowney's scary. But he's not the only South Carolina star Florida needs to dim on Saturday.

DE Jadeveon Clowney

There is no more talented player in college football than Clowney, and he may be the most talented defensive end to play college football since Julius Peppers, who was similarly a man among boys for North Carolina. Clowney has an enormous frame and superior speed, and is learning how to be devastating with technique as well as physicality. The worry for the Gamecocks is that LSU managed Clowney well, and that Florida is unlikely to put itself in positions where he is met by only one blocker. D.J. Humphries playing for Xavier Nixon, if an injury (read: a concussion) keeps Nixon out, might be a blessing in disguise, because the talented freshman would seem to match up better with Clowney.

WR/PR Ace Sanders

Sanders is to this South Carolina team what Tyrann Mathieu was to 2011 LSU and what Brandon James was to the Meyer/Tebow Gators: The secret weapon on special teams that can win a game on the margins. He almost did it against LSU, gutting the Tigers on a punt return that led to a go-ahead touchdown, and he did do it against Georgia, streaking for a score that pounded a nail into the Dawgs' coffin. Kyle Christy's high, deep punts and Loucheiz Purifoy's fantastic coverage should mitigate Sanders to a point, but punting out of bounds and avoiding the risk of a big return may be more prudent..

QB Connor Shaw

I doubt Connor Shaw knows what Connor Shaw will give South Carolina on Saturday. In 2011, his running flummoxed the Gators, but a half-dozen games in 2011 featured a flummoxed Gators defense; 2012 has seen a better one, especially in terms of rush discipline, but it has struggled at times with mobile quarterbacks. The ballhawks in the Florida secondary, however, will be licking their lips at the potential for a few armpunts by a quarterback that throws plenty of them..

RB Marcus Lattimore

I sincerely don't think Lattimore will get 20 carries on Saturday; it seems likely that he'll be the second option at running back for the 'Cocks at best. But Lattimore leaning on piles for extra yardage would be very possible if he's healthy enough for third and short usage, and that could be enough to swing a close game.

DE Devin Taylor

The end opposite Clowney should face single-team work every week, and Taylor has, more or less. So why hasn't he improved on a very good 2011? That mystery has been part of why the South Carolina defense hasn't been mentioned as an elite SEC unit, but if Taylor can dominate Chaz Green, it could earn that rep in a hurry.

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