Gators don't want Gamecocks celebrating in Swamp

Gators don't want Gamecocks celebrating in Swamp

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) The last time South Carolina played at Florida, the Gamecocks celebrated a division title.

Coach Steve Spurrier got doused and carried to midfield. Players hooted and hollered on the sideline, in the locker room and on the flight home.

The Gators remember it vividly.

``That's a feeling you'll never forget,'' safety Josh Evans said.

No doubt, third-ranked Florida (6-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) will use that 36-14 loss as motivation when the ninth-ranked Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1) return to The Swamp on Saturday.

``It's definitely revenge,'' Evans said. ``It would mean a lot to this team and definitely the roll we're on this year trying to stay undefeated.''

No titles are on the line in this one, but the winner will take command in the Eastern Division. Making it to Atlanta for the SEC championship game is the top goal for both teams, and Saturday's loser will need help getting there.

``We realize it's an extremely important game down there in The Swamp,'' Spurrier said. ``Hopefully our guys will be ready to play their best one of the year.''

South Carolina is coming off its worst game of the season.

Marcus Lattimore was held to 35 yards rushing, Connor Shaw threw two interceptions and the Gamecocks allowed 258 yards rushing in a 23-21 loss at LSU. The Tigers outgained South Carolina 406-211, recorded four sacks and converted 11 of 19 times on third down.

``It was just frustrating,'' South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman said. ``Some plays, we were at the point of attack and did not make those plays that we've been making all year. I felt like we kind of took a punch and we didn't give one back sometimes. Being more physical, that's what we're working on.''

Being healthier might help, too.

Lattimore, who ran 40 times for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns two years ago in Gainesville, has a bruised hip that kept him out of practice this week and will keep him out of the starting lineup Saturday. Standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has a foot problem that has limited him in practice. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles won't play because of a shoulder injury, and defensive linemen Byron Jerideau and J.T. Surratt have been slowed by sprained ankles.

And a flu bug has worked its way through the team, affecting receivers Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington.

Florida, meanwhile, is getting several players back in time for the stretch run.

Defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) are expected to return to the starting lineup Saturday. So are left tackle Xavier Nixon (upper body), guard James Wilson (eye) and center Jon Harrison (elbow).

Florida's offensive line has been key to the team's ground attack.

Senior Mike Gillislee is averaging a little more than 102 yards rushing a game. Two weeks ago against LSU, he ran 34 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel is averaging 54 yards a game on the ground and has scored four times. Last week at Vanderbilt, Driskel set a school record for rushing by a quarterback with 177 yards. He had touchdown runs of 13, 37 and 70 yards.

``If we can get the run stopped and make them one-dimensional, we'll do very good,'' South Carolina linebacker Shaq Wilson said.

The Gators have the same game plan, even if it's backup Kenny Miles carrying the ball instead of Lattimore.

Without Lattimore last season, the Gamecocks ran for 215 yards in a 17-12 win against Florida.

Brandon Wilds had 120 yards rushing, and Shaw added 88 yards and two scores on the ground.

``Shaw is just a winner, a guy that creates plays with his legs, does a lot of good things for their football team,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said. ``The play is never dead with him. He can create so much with his legs and he's a tough, hard-nosed, competitive guy, a guy you enjoy competing against because of the way he plays the game.''

South Carolina and Georgia were popular, preseason picks to win the East. Florida has been much more of a surprise in Muschamp's second season.

The Gators have shown toughness, resiliency and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win games. They already avenged a 30-point loss to LSU and would like nothing more than to check the Gamecocks off the list next - even if few players are willing to openly admit it.

``Really, to tell you the truth, it's just another game for us,'' Florida linebacker Jon Bostic said. ``It's another SEC opponent. We've got to play well to win this game. We can't really look over them or look at this game any different than any other game.''

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.