Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Secondary Braces for Spurrier; Injury-Riddled UF Group Will Be Tested by Pass-Happy South Carolina Offense

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Secondary Braces for Spurrier; Injury-Riddled UF Group Will Be Tested by Pass-Happy South Carolina Offense

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A banged-up secondary. A game against Steve Spurrier.

Not a good mix.

Yet that's what the 12th-ranked Florida football team will face today at South Carolina. The Gators will be without their best cornerback -- senior Vernell Brown is out with a broken leg -- and they must stop a passing attack led by the man who revolutionized offensive football in the Southeastern Conference.

With the SEC's Eastern Division on the line -- a victory today, coupled with an Auburn win over Georgia, will send the Gators to the SEC championship game next month.

UF is coming off a game in which Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler shredded Florida's secondary for 361 yards and four touchdowns.

All together now, Gator fans. Gulp.

"You have to look at the positives," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "We met as a staff and decided there will not be overconfidence or a lack of preparation after what happened Saturday [against Vanderbilt]. We were exposed, and we didn't play very well.

"The biggest issue is how we are going to get the confidence back."

Part of the answer is solid preparation, and the other part is by tweaking the lineup in the secondary. Reggie Lewis, a junior who made the game-winning interception in the second overtime against Vanderbilt, likely will start in Brown's place. Reggie Nelson, a sophomore who has started the past two games at free safety, will be at nickel back, and sophomore Kyle Jackson, a Fletcher High School graduate, will be at free safety.

Florida likely will play with five defensive backs for most of the game to deal with Spurrier's passing attack, which is led by quarterback Blake Mitchell (an SEC-high 15 touchdown passes) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (46 catches for 718 yards and an SEC-leading 12 touchdown receptions). …

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