GEORGIA – 45, SOUTH CAROLINA 16
A look back at what decided the game between Georgia and South Carolina
The Georgia Bulldogs came into Columbia, South Carolina, and did exactly what they were supposed to do. A JT Daniels lead offense and Monty Rice lead defense went into Williams-Brice Stadium and proved to be deeper and more talented, by a wide margin. Offensively, Georgia could basically do whatever they wanted to. After an 8-yard rushing output versus Mississippi State a week ago, Georgia’s running backs and offensive line used the Gamecock’s depleted front 7 as a glorified scout look on Saturday and ran at will. JT Daniels proved to be efficient and once again showed his arm talent and accuracy during the thrashing of South Carolina.
The Dawgs defensive performance wasn’t elite by any means, but very frequently during the game, when it mattered, the UGA defensive unit was smothering. The pass rush was there most of the night, preventing South Carolina from utilizing the deep, dropback passing game. Most of SC’s completions were of the short to intermediate variety, and credit should be given to Mike Bobo and Luke Doty for trying to maximize that part of the gameplan and taking what Georgia was giving the Gamecocks. Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning’s squad was determined not to be beaten by the running game and not to get beat over the top on a deep pass play. For the overwhelming majority of the game, mission accomplished.
This should have been JT Daniels’s completion percentage in the game versus South Carolina. Daniels finished the night 10 of 16 for 139 yards passing, with two touchdowns and one interception. The interception 100% should not have happened as a perfectly thrown corner route to Kearis Jackson hit Jackson squarely in the hands. The pass could not have been walked to and placed in Jackson’s hands and better than what it was thrown. The typically reliable Dawg target from Peach County just dropped the pass and South Carolina snagged it off the carom to prevent Georgia from getting in field goal position just before halftime.
Jermain Burton also had a pass go off his hands in the endzone on a well-placed fade route. JT Daniels threw Burton open in a one on one situation and while the pass wasn’t as easy of a one to bring in as that of Jackson’s aforementioned drop, Burton could have definitely corralled it for six points. Ultimately a completion percentage of 62.5 is nothing to sneeze at, but it easily could have been higher for Daniels and the Dawgs in an overall efficient and explosive performance in the passing game.
Georgia had four running backs rush for 77 yards or more. Daijun Edwards got in on the fun for the Dawgs in the second half. The true freshman from Colquitt County rushed for his 77 yards on 14 carries and had a touchdown called back and prevented from punching another in as the clock expired as Kirby Smart elected to take a knee to run the clock out on first and goal from the 3-yard line.
James Cook averaged 17.3 yards per carry and topped the century mark with 104 yards on six carries. Cook tallied two touchdowns and showed the top end speed and playmaking ability that he also flashed earlier in the year against Alabama. Zamir White also had two touchdowns to go along with 84 yards on 13 carries and Kenny McIntosh bounced back from injury with nine carries for 79 yards. In total, Georgia racked up 332 yards rushing, by far the largest output of the season.
On a single 31-yard streak down the field, Arian Smith provided the world with a glimpse of the future. The true freshman Smith has been battling a knee injury the entire season. The receiver from Lakeland, Florida, is a 4.3 type guy when healthy, and it certainly appeared on the touchdown strike he caught from JT Daniels that Smith is now healthy. Should JT Daniels elect to return to the Dawgs next year and not enter the NFL Draft, a Daniels to Smith connection could prove to be a deadly combination in the 2021 campaign for the Dawgs.
Georgia held South Carolina 17 yards shy of 100 yards rushing. The Gamecock’s total of 83 yards was far less than what they wanted with a limited passing-game and a mobile quarterback making his first start. Georgia gave up some chunk plays at times, but when the chips were down, it seemed like UGA’s defense bowed their collective back and shut down the South Carolina run game.