The Gators Look To End Four-Game Skid
The season thus far for the Florida Gators has been a roller coaster. After losing to Michigan 33-17 opening week, Florida (3-5, 3-4 SEC) won three straight thrilling games. They then lost their next two games by a combined three points.
Their game against Georgia was the nail in the coffin, with Florida getting blown out 42-7. The week after the Georgia loss, head coach Jim McElwain and the university agreed to a mutual separation. Former defensive coordinator Randy Shannon has since taken over as the interim head coach.
The debut for Shannon wasn’t much better, with Florida losing to Missouri, 45-16. With a loss to the Tigers making it the Gators fourth loss in a row, Florida desperately needs a win against South Carolina. Unless the canceled game, due to Hurricane Irma, with FCS opponent Northern Colorado is rescheduled, Florida will need to win out to get the required six wins to become bowl eligible.
South Carolina (6-3, 4-3), on the other hand, are already bowl eligible, despite losing to Georgia 24-10 last week.
Florida quarterback Malik Zaire is starting his second game, replacing redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. Zaire didn’t look great last week, by completing just 13 of his 19 passes for 158 yards, no touchdowns and one interception against Missouri.
Florida ranks 113th in the nation in scoring with just 20.6 points per game. The main reason they even have four wins is that their defense kept them in those games. The Gators haven’t scored 18 points or more since beating Vanderbilt 38-24 back in September.
South Carolina’s defense isn’t great, so look for Zaire to have a better game than last week. The Gators need to find their quarterback for the future. Even if the Gators lose, a good performance by Zaire will give the team, and their fans hope for the future.
The Gator’s defense is ranked 47th in the nation, allowing 372.1 yards per game. This is in large part to the offense not being on the field that much, meaning the defense is getting tired from being on the field so much. With close games, the Gator defense has played well.
Between the quarterback and head coaching changes, this season has been a dud for the Gators. Even if they somehow win out (@ South Carolina, vs. UAB, vs. FSU), Gator fans won’t be happy finishing the season with only six wins when they started the season ranked in the top 25.
Florida can’t think about the games after South Carolina. Just get past the Gamecocks on Saturday, and the next two games are winnable. The Gators have to get their offense going if they want to win this game. Saturday’s performance will show if the team has given up, just like most of their fans already have.
Florida has a two-game win streak against the Gamecocks and leads the all-time series 26-8-3. However, it’s the Gamecocks who are favored by seven points. Kickoff for the game is at noon on Saturday from Columbia, SC.