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Seminoles must respect Garcia's play action

A statistical preview of the Chick-fil-A Bowl (ESPN, 7:30 ET) between the No. 20 South Carolina Gamecocks and the No. 23 Florida State Seminoles.

With stud freshman Marcus Lattimore in the backfield, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has put up great numbers after using a play-action fake.

Stephen Garcia Passing
2010 Season vs AQ Opponents

He hasn’t thrown an interception all season and he’s completed more than three-quarters of his pass attempts when using play action.

Garcia’s big-play target is sophomore wideout Alshon Jeffery. When Garcia looks to throw deep -- throwing the ball more than 20 yards downfield -- he’s had huge success throwing it Jeffery’s way and little success anywhere else.

Garcia’s completion percentage is double, his average yards per attempt is nearly triple and he’s thrown four times as many touchdowns without an interception when targeting Jeffery instead of any other player.

Christian Ponder vs E.J. Manuel
Throws of 10 or More Yards, 2010

On the other sideline, there is uncertainty at who will start at quarterback. Florida State may have to turn to E.J. Manuel if starter Christian Ponder can’t go. Manuel has shown the ability to hit receivers downfield in his limited duty this season, including an impressive 9-for-13 on balls thrown 10 yards or more downfield against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game.

And both quarterbacks will have to be on the lookout if they get into obvious passing situations. Both teams’ defenses have taken advantage of opponents that are forced to pass in the second half.

Florida State leads the nation in second-half sacks while their team is leading with 23. Tied for second, of course, is South Carolina with 21.