Austin Peay was an option oriented offense and only threw the ball for a total of 21 times against Georgia. Look for that number to double Saturday as the Bulldogs take on the Gamecocks.
An experienced quarterback in Jake Bentley and an elite wide receiver group will give the team all it can handle and its up to the young secondary to step up to the plate.
“They’re big, they’re physical,” Smart said. “They throw the ball vertically down the field. I think Jake Bentley does a tremendous job of throwing the touch passes, throwing fade routes, throwing vertical patterns; and they catch them at a high percentage. I think if you look back over the last few games, they’ve hit a lot of those long balls, and they have big wide-outs to do it with.”
The passing attack is what gave Georgia fits last year in this game when tight end Hayden Hurst reeled in 7 receptions for 93 yards. Fortunately he’s in the NFL now, but the Bulldogs will have to worry about another guy that was absent in last years game, Deebo Samuel.
“He’s probably the most underrated player in all of college football, because I don’t know that everybody in the country knows what the SEC knows about Deebo Samuel. I mean the guy is phenomenal. He’s a ten-touch guy a game, 15-touch guy a game. They’re going to find ways to get him the ball, through the screen game, return game, handing it to him. He’s an electric football player that’s extremely powerful, confident, hard to tackle and he’ll be a key guy for us. You gotta get him on the ground when he gets the ball, because you’ll never know when it’s going to him.”
If Georgia had any weakness last year on defense it was in the secondary. After losing a considerable amount of contributors last year, its up to the young defensive backs to step up to the plate Saturday.
Kirby Smart specifically talked about what he saw out of Tyson Campbell and some other young defensive backs.
“He communicated well,” Smart said. “I think he got settled down more as the game went on. He’s got a lot of speed. He’s got a lot of toughness. He’s a competitor. He hadn’t been in the environment he’s going to be in Saturday, but I mean a lot of teams across the country have young DB players, and the only way they grow up is to go play. So he needs to go play. And we’ve got other guys that can roll in and play. Eric Stokes came in and played well. So did Mark Webb. So I feel a lot better about where we are at corner this year right now than I did at times in the past. They just need to go play. Those guys have to go play, and they’re going to have to play well this week because they (South Carolina) have some really good wide-outs.”
This Saturday we get to find out if Jake Bentley is to much for the young Georgia secondary or the Bulldogs rise to the occasion in Columbia.