College Football Preview: Florida at South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó South Carolina’s Connor Shaw is feeling better, as is Florida’s John Brantley. It’s time to play football.
Fans on both sides have spent much of the week worrying about their banged-up quarterbacks, but both are expected to start today when No. 15 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) and Florida (5-4, 3-4) close out SEC play at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The status of Shaw and Brantley seemed very much in doubt after last weekend.
Shaw, a sophomore, sustained a concussion in a 44-28 loss to Arkansas, but was cleared by doctors to practice this week and play. Brantley missed two games earlier this season with a badly sprained right ankle and briefly lost feeling in his throwing hand after a fourth-quarter hit between his shoulder and elbow in the Gators’ 26-21 win over Vanderbilt.
Brantley, a senior, was back at practice Tuesday and has continued to prepare for this contest.
“Having John back makes us that sort of offense that we want to be,” first-year Florida coach Will Muschamp said.
If so, the Gators might be tough to slow down. South Carolina’s defense looked as bad as it had all season at Arkansas, torched for 435 yards. It was just the second time this season the Gamecocks have allowed an opponent more than 400 yards.
South Carolina had kept itself in charge of the SEC Eastern Division chase with a combination of strong defense and just enough offense to win tight games at Mississippi State and Tennessee. That formula fell apart against the Razorbacks, though Shaw’s second rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter drew the Gamecocks within 30-28.
Despite the loss, South Carolina still has a chance to return to the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship game. It must defeat Florida ó something it’s done just twice in 19 meetings since joining the SEC ó and then hope Georgia loses to Auburn or Kentucky down the stretch.