Florida Gators at South Carolina Gamecocks
Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC
Score: Florida (20) South Carolina (28)
Taven Bryan is disruptive
If you like defensive tackles that aggressively fire off the ball and initiate contact in the neutral zone then look no further than Florida’s junior defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Bryan is explosive out of his stance and knows how to attack blockers with his hands to control the rep. He lives on the backfield and fills the role of an interior penetrator.
While Bryan is more disruptive than productive, he plays under control and frequently resets the line of scrimmage. His motor is relentless and is an ideal candidate to shoot gaps at the next level.
Jake Bentley is too loose with the football
The saga of South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley making impressive NFL throws was once again marred by giving the ball away. While there are flashes of him reading the field and hitting throws with anticipation and leverage, too often he is erratic with his ball placement or fails to see a squatting zone defender.
Bentley has an NFL skill set but the consistency isn’t there yet. He needs to take a major step forward as a junior next season and he has all the ability needed to do it.
Mixed bag of results continue for Martez Ivey at left tackle
Ivey was a prized five-star recruit out of high school and found instant success for the Gators at guard. He was moved to left tackle this season and the results have been inconsistent.
Given his frame (listed at 6’5”, 315) and movement skills, it made sense to give Ivey a chance to play tackle but the results have been hit or miss. While he shows the ability to mirror pass rushers and redirect his weight, Ivey needs to become more consistent with his pass sets and kick slide. Ivey is caught folding at the waste and there are even times when his feet will deaden. His power and ability to move people in the run game do not come with questions.
Ivey would benefit from another season in college and developing his skills to play outside.
Hayden Hurst is underappreciated
There is so much to like about South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. He has terrific hands and the ability to elevate and win in contested situations. He has burst, physicality and creativity after the catch. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he has an NFL frame to pair with his receiving ability and movement skills. With that being said, Hurst is averaging under four receptions per game.
Hurst is a Sunday player who South Carolina should be featuring more in the passing game – good things happen when they do.
Put a star next to these underclassmen
Several underclassmen that are not draft-eligible caught my eye in this contest:
South Carolina WR Shi Smith – He’s undersized but the man can fly. It’s rare to see Florida Sr. CB Duke Dawson allow separation but Smith had him by two steps in a long completion early in the game.
Florida DE Jabari Zuniga – While CeCe Jefferson is the more highly touted Gators pass rusher, Zuniga may have the most NFL upside. Zuniga is extremely quick and flexible to beat offensive tackles around the corner.
Florida CB CJ Henderson – He gave up a long reception to Bryan Edwards but Henderson has the length and ball skills that NFL teams covet. Just a freshman, Henderson could be the next star defensive back from Florida.
South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards – Edwards is a big-bodied catch point winner who is showing steady growth. I expect Edwards to be among the most productive receivers in the SEC next season.
***South Carolina’s trio at WR next season in Deebo Samuel, Shi Smith and Bryan Edwards may be the best in the SEC.