Late Saturday afternoon the Dawgs return between the hedges to face the South Carolina Gamecocks and Bulldog Public Enemy #1 … Steve Spurrier. After a game where the Georgia offense struggled in the passing offense, the Dawgs must raise their game to keep the Gamecock defense on its heels and give the Georgia tailbacks opportunities to make big plays in the running game. South Carolina is coming off a home loss to Kentucky where the Wildcats jumped on the Gamecocks early and then held off a furious rally late. Needless to say, we’re going to get USCe’s best shot on Saturday. Let’s get to the preview.
When Georgia Has the Ball
The outcome of the game comes down to the Georgia passing game and, particularly, the play of the Dawgs’ quarterbacks. 2 years ago, Aaron Murray carved up the Gamecock defense like a Thanksgiving turkey. In 2011, the game in Sanford came down to crushing turnovers that led directly to points. Greyson Lambert doesn’t have to have a Murray-like game from ’13 for the Dawgs to win, but he can’t have the terrible mistakes that give South Carolina cheap points and field position. I would like to see some consistency in the passing game where South Carolina appears to be vulnerable in the secondary. In particular, I really want to see some play-action passing on early downs especially on 1st down. Georgia running backs have had success against the South Carolina defense the last 2 years, and I would be remiss to mention that these are the types of games where a Heisman candidacy can be made with a big game statistically in a big win over a rival. While Nick Chubb hasn’t gotten a load of carries the first 2 weeks of the season, I expect that to change this week as the coaches are likely to feed the beast as much as possible.
When South Carolina Has the Ball
Connor Mitch is out with an injury, but I’m not sure whether that’s a positive or a negative for the Gamecocks. I do know the Gamecocks have a solid offensive line and a good set of running backs led by Brandon Wilds. I also expect we’re going to see Spurrier try some of the things they did last year to exploit the middle of the field with the intermediate passing game. If the Georgia defense succeeds in taking away the intermediate (and longer) passing game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pharaoh Cooper in the wildcat running the zone read option with Wilds and Carson. South Carolina needs to get the ball in Cooper’s hands as much as possible in space as their main game-breaking threat on offense. I’m looking for Pruitt to unleash the fury of the law firm of Jenkins, Floyd & Carter against USCe quarterback, Perry Orth, to try to disrupt the Gamecock offense especially the threat of the downfield passing game. The Georgia defense showed last week what it can do to teams who can’t threaten to stretch the field as they suffocated the running game and forced an inexperienced quarterback to take chances. If this happens on Saturday, nothing but good will come of it.
What Will Happen
I’m cautiously optimistic about Saturday afternoon. We are typically very dangerous as a home team in a late afternoon/night game especially recently. While I know Richt and Schottenheimer would like to ride the offensive line and running game to victory, we have to demonstrate to the Gamecocks that we aren’t afraid to throw the ball and keep the safeties off the line of scrimmage. I expect the home crowd and the talent advantage to get the job done on Saturday night as the Dawgs win a game closer than the final score indicates. Dawgs win, and it may not be pretty at times.
Final Score: Georgia 30, South Carolina 21
Other games of interest:
#14 Georgia tech @ #8 Notre Dame – My ultimate meteor game … Nerds vs. Nuns, Inferiority Complex vs. Superiority Complex, Jowls vs. Red Face. The Irish beat UVA as the result of a miracle and a huge defensive breakdown. Malik Zaire is gone for the season, but Justin Thomas is a perfect fit for the tech, service academy offense. The jackets take care of business but won’t march up and down the field against the Irish. tech 31, Notre Dame 21.
#18 Auburn @ #13 LSU – War Tiglesmen vs. Bayou Bengals on CBS. LSU hasn’t been great recently at home in the 3:30 time slot (2:30 Central). Auburn hasn’t very good, period, so far this year. If this game were at night on the bayou, I would like the Purple & Gold to win big against an Auburn team that doesn’t have an identity. LSU seems to have the advantage on both lines of scrimmage, and when they’re good up front, the Tigers are dangerous. Geaux Tigers! LSU 27, Auburn 21.
Texas Tech @ Arkansas – Bret Bielema doesn’t seem to get it. His team is built to run the ball and play defense, but he lets Brandon Allen throw it all over the place against Toledo. The Razorbacks lose and look bad doing it. If the ‘Backs lose on Saturday, the wolves may start coming out in northwest Arkansas, and Bert may be the pig on the spit. I can’t see Arkansas losing this game as the offense gets back to its identity. Arkansas 38, Texas Tech 30.
Colorado vs. Colorado St. (Denver) – Our favorite Mountain West head coach, Mike Bobo, gets his 1st shot at the Buffaloes at Sports Authority Field. My understanding is that this game is a hate-fest. CMB needs to get his time in Fort Collins off to a good start with the Ram faithful in the only game that matters to CSU fans. If the Rams could take Minnesota to the brink, they should beat the Buffs. I don’t know enough about the 2 teams to have any idea about this, but Colorado is a 3-point favorite. I’ll take the Rams to win straight up. Colorado St. 38, Colorado 34.
Florida @ Kentucky – The Wildcats appear to be waking up from a long slumber with a 2-0 start including last week’s road win in Columbia East. Boom Williams is a good running back, but I’m not sold on the Kentucky passing game. Teams that can’t throw the ball consistently against a Gator defense eventually run into problems moving the ball. Florida was VERY fortunate to keep from going to overtime with East Carolina last Saturday. The goal posts come down in Lexington as The Streak ends. Kentucky 27, Florida 24.
#15 Ole Miss @ #2 Alabama – Little Nicky Saban is extremely dangerous in revenge games following a loss. Ole Miss is putting up points like it’s nobody’s business. I’m not sure if Coker is the answer for the Tide at quarterback, and he will need to lean on Derrick Henry and the Alabama offensive line against the Land Shark defense led by Robert Nkemdiche. It sounds like Laremy Tunsil will likely be back in Oxford instead of protecting Chad Kelly’s blind side. Alabama brings the Rebel Black Bears back down to earth in a game not as close as the final score appears. Alabama 35, Ole Miss 27.
That’s what I think. Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.