GAINESVILLE -- Sophomore tailback Mike Davis -- a longtime Florida commit before flipping to South Carolina late in the 2011 recruiting cycle -- poses a major challenge for UF’s leaky run defense Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN2) in Columbia, SC.
Davis tops the SEC in rushing with 1,058 yards, averaging 6.37 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns.
“He's a really good player, a guy we thought a lot of coming out of Stephenson (Ga.) there in Atlanta,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “He is having an outstanding year, and certainly has been a huge different in their run game, especially losing [Marcus] Lattimore last year.”
Davis, a 5-foot-9, 215-pound hammer, is also South Carolina’s second-leading receiver with 29 catches for 326 yards.
“I’ve seen a lot of explosive runs from him. He is physical, runs hard,” senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs said. “We’re going to have to really key in on him because he’s one of the top rushers in the SEC.”
Without star defensive tackle Dominique Easley (torn ACL), Florida’s run defense has slipped significantly in recent weeks. During the team’s four-game losing streak, the Gators have surrendered three -- LSU’s Jeremy Hill, Missouri’s Henry Josey and Georgia’s Todd Gurley -- 100-yard performances.
SPURRIER ENDORSES MUSCHAMP
While much of the Florida faithful has soured on coach Will Muschamp, a former Gators legend continues to voice his support for UF’s maligned head coach.
“I admire the way he coach his team, runs the show down there,” said Steve Spurrier, in his ninth season as South Carolina’s head coach. “Obviously they’ve had a rash of injuries all over the team that’s really hurt them. But they’ve still got plenty of ball players and they’re still a very hard-nosed physical-type team. … I don’t know if I’ve ever seen quite as many [injuries on one team] as they’ve had.”
Muschamp has never shied away from voicing his respect for Florida’s former coach from 1990-2001.
“I admire the job that he’s done as a head coach. Whether it’s at Duke or Florida or South Carolina,” Muschamp said. “Obviously him being a Gator, that’s important. Being the head coach at Florida, I think you ought to have that relationship with him. … He’s done it the right way, too. He does things the right way. He does things first class. He handles things the right way. I really have a lot of respect for the man.”
THIS & THAT
Quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder sprain) remains unable to practice. The redshirt junior appears doubtful for Saturday’s game. Redshirt freshman Skyler Morhinweg would make his first-career start if Murphy were unable to go. … Left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL sprain) is officially out against the Gamecocks, while cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) is still listed as day-to-day. … Linebackers Antonio Morrison (torn meniscus) and Jeremi Powell (torn ACL) both had knee surgery Wednesday morning. Morrison (torn meniscus) is expected to return to action at the start of spring practice next year after injuring his knee in the loss to Vanderbilt. … Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said freshman outside linebacker Jarrad Davis would make his first-career start against the Gamecocks.
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