Georgia had 210 yards rushing on the day after two rather anemic rushing performances against lesser opponents. Daijun Edwards returned to the lineup and looked like the gritty, elusive back Georgia needs to jump start its run game. Edwards led the Bulldog’s ground game and totaled 118 yards on only 20 carries for an impressive average of 5.9 yards per attempt. A banged-up Kendall Milton was less effective, compiling 25 yards on seven carries. Dillon Bell appears to be next in line for carries and he added another 23 yards on the ground. Cash Jones had two carries for 20 yards, including an 11-yard scamper for a TD. With Edwards back from injury, Georgia’s run game should continue to churn out yards.
Georgia only managed to eke out three first-half points in an offensive performance had many Bulldog fans scratching their heads. Georgia moved the ball but continued to stall out in the redzone. It was particularly perplexing that Georgia only looked to get its short-passing game going against a stacked box. On Georgia’s initial 18 pass attempts in the first-half, Beck’s longest went for only 11 yards. Thankfully, Georgia began to stretch the field a bit more in the second half. Beck completed four passes of 12 yards or more, including a long of 36 yards to Rara Thomas. It did not help that Georgia continues to struggle in the kicking game, missing 2 of 3 field goals attempts, including a chip-shot, first-half attempt.
Tykee Smith number, 23, was seen all over the field on Saturday. With injured Javon Bullard unavailable, Smith needed to step up against a formidable Gamecock passing game. Smith played to the level that many expected when Smith transferred to Georgia after a freshman All-American season at West Virginia. Smith led the Bulldogs in total tackles with five and sealed the win with a well-timed interception off Spencer Rattler late in the fourth quarter. When Bullard returns, the Bulldogs secondary should be one of the best in the country.
South Carolina committed five false start penalties in what became an increasingly loud environment as the game progressed. At SEC media day, South Carolina’s defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway rated Texas A&M’s Kyle Field and Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium as the loudest in the SEC. That was just fine for Kirby Smart, who responded by calling for Georgia fans to prove they are still “elite.” Hemingway’s discounting of Georgia’s fanbase appeared more accurate in the first half as Georgia struggled mightily putting points on the board while South Carolina scored two touchdowns against Georgia’s vaunted defense. As the weather worsened later in the game, the crowd began to influence the game in persistent rain. After scoring a touchdown in its last possession of the first half, South Carolina had three punts, two interceptions and a turnover on downs on its six second-half possessions. Georgia’s amped-up student section and crowd aided this effort.
Georgia’s defense played up to its potential in the second half, limiting South Carolina to only 98 yards of total offense. Much of this success was due to pressure from an energized pass rush that finally started affecting the play of Spencer Rattler. Georgia finished the day with three sacks, including one by Mykel Williams, who seemed to be in South Carolina’s backfield all game long. Dumas-Johnson and Nazir Stackhouse each had a sack. Williams admitted that Georgia “woke up in the second half.” Rattler played much better than his stat line and was quick to throw the ball away rather than endure additional sacks. After the game, Smart praised Williams as the team’s “most dynamic rusher.” If another edge rusher can begin to generate pass rush pressure, then Georgia should exceed last year’s sack total.