The Florida Gators are having one of the most forgettable seasons in their program’s history. After starting the season 3-1, the Gators have lost four games in a row and have lost their head coach Jim McElwain. Randy Shannon was named the interim head coach but in his first game, the Gators were throttled by the Missouri Tigers 45-16. The Florida football program was embarrassed not because they lost but because of the lack of effort. Somehow, Shannon is going to have to light a fire in his players and get them ready for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Last week, the South Carolina held their own against Georgia and gave the top ranked Bulldogs a good game. Here are five keys on how the Florida Gators can upset the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Let Malik Zaire run
Randy Shannon announced earlier this week that he would start graduate transfer Malik Zaire for the second week in a row. Zaire played a pretty decent game but Florida’s offensive coordinator is handcuffing his quarterback by not letting him use his legs. Zaire is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country and can really do damage with his legs. Against Missouri, Zaire was kept in the pocket and only ran a few times because of the pocket collapsing. Nussmeier must let his quarterback do what he does best if Nussmeier wants to win this game. Getting Zaire out in space not only makes him better, it also keeps the South Carolina defense guessing on whether if Zaire will run or throw. Zaire is also better throwing the ball on the run and outside the pocket.
Find creative ways of getting the ball in Dre Massey’s hands
With Kadarius Toney out with a shoulder injury, redshirt-junior Dre Massey is Florida’s best slot receiver and has played well in the past few games. Against Missouri, Massey only had two receptions but for 75 yards. Against Texas A&M, Massey scored his only touchdown this season a jet sweep. Just like Nussmeier needs to let Zaire run, he needs to find ways to get the ball in Massey’s hands. Massey is one of Florida’s top playmakers and could really be the X-factor in this game. Because of Massey’s skillset, you could run a jet sweeps, stand passes and even end arounds if it means he’ll have the ball in space. Just find a way to make explosive plays and Massey could be the guy to do it.
Win in the trenches
For the first time since the Michigan game, the Florida offensive and defensive line were completely dominated. The Missouri Tigers completely manhandle Florida in the trenches which was one of the many reason they beat the Gators. Somehow, Florida must be able to rebound and not let that happen again. It will also be tougher for Florida as they have now lost their LG Brett Heggie for the season with an ACL injury. Tyler Jordan must play his tail off and help Zaire have time to either run or throw downfield. The defensive line must allow put pressure on Jake Bentley. The Gators are very talented but they struggle at times to get to the quarterback. Chris Rumph must get his guys ready to attack Bentley and hopefully force a sack or a bad pass which could result in an interception.
Play with some damn effort
Last week wasn’t only embarrassing to the fans but it was embarrassing to the Gators brand and the player’s family. How do you make a long trip to Columbia, Missouri and lay an egg? If Missouri was better than you then, that’s more acceptable. The thing is, Missouri is nowhere as talent as Florida. The Gators should have gone into Missouri on a mission and knocked off the Tigers. Now, Florida is 3-5 and showing zero heart and zero effort. If you’re not going to even try, then don’t even dress for the game. Theirs is somebody on the sidelines less talented but would kill to be on the field. You will be replaced and the less talented player will be on the field doing his best to represent the Florida Gators. If this Florida team repeats what they did against South Carolina, it’s going to ugly real quick.