JD’s Five Keys to Victory – South Carolina Edition

Photo: Logan Booker/BI

Photo: Logan Booker/BI


1. Man Up D-Line – What most stood out in South Carolina’s impressive 27-10 victory over North Carolina in the season-opener was the dominant performance of what may be the Southeastern Conference’s best offensive line. Shawn Elliot, the semi-psychotic position coach who gained fame at Appalachian State after the upset of Michigan and the ensuing Fox Sports South feature, has put together a tremendous unit. They are monsters who create huge pushes in the run game, and they form a near impenetrable wall on passing downs. Georgia’s defensive front will have its hands full. They cannot get pushed around and must create pressure. If not, South Carolina has a great shot to make it a once unthinkable
four straight.

2. Stay Disciplined with Shaw – Connor Shaw is one terrific quarterback. He is an excellent passer, superb runner, tough as nails, and quite crafty. Especially on that read option. Georgia’s defensive ends and outside linebackers have to be disciplined and stay home. On his longest run against North Carolina, Shaw flat-out juked a Tar Heel linebacker with a nifty fake then turned on the jets. You can bet Todd Grantham and first – year defensive line coach Chris Wilson will be preaching throughout the week the importance discipline on the edge. Jordan Jenkins and Garrison Smith are dynamos, they will have to be at their best and show the way.

3. Manage Clowney – The likely No. 1 overall pick in the draft isn’t going to get dominated. You know that with Jadeveon Clowney. Georgia’s offense has to manage him though. The last two years, he has made monster, turnover and touchdown-causing, game-changing (in 2011 game-winning) plays against the Bulldogs. Since he did not have a great game statistically against the Tar Heels, you can bet he is going to pull out all the stops for the Bulldogs. You can bet that Georgia’s tackles – and Clowney figures to move around – will have some help from tight ends and fullbacks. But in the end, the line is going to have to set the tone. South Carolina has a lot of other defensive standouts who flourish if it takes two or
three to keep Clowney from having a monster performance.

4. Go Gurley Go –Georgia has the nation’s best tailback. This is the game where he can set the tone and have another of those memorable afternoons – like the one in Jacksonville. Leading with this elite talent and being the more physical team also puts the defense on its heels and slows down “you know who.” It was physical against Clemson, but there’s an open date and then North Texas before LSU rolls in, so Gurley can empty the tank. With Gurley showing the way, it makes the Bulldogs already dangerous passing attack even more lethal. Gurley went over the century mark against killer defenses in Jacksonville and the Georgia Dome, and this is another stellar stop unit. If he can soften them up a bit, maybe the speedy counter-puncher Keith Marshall can break loose on a long one.

5. At least push the Kicking Game – Struggles on special teams in recent years have been pretty evident – especially against the Gamecocks. In 2011, South Carolina brilliantly executed a fake punt with defensive end Melvin Ingram going 70 yards for a touchdown, and the Bulldogs missed a short field goal in the Gamecocks 45-42 victory. Last year, Ace Sanders broke Georgia’s back in the first quarter with a punt return that made it 21-0 in the 35-7 South Carolina rout. The Bulldogs just can’t afford these kinds of breakdowns. If Georgia can play it at least even on special teams, the odds lean towards the red and black breaking this losing streak to the Gamecocks and opening SEC play with a huge win.