After losing to Clemson in a super-hyped season opening game, this is pretty close to a must-win game for Georgia this Saturday. It’s not going to be easy at all, barring a completely different looking team, but picking up a win will certainly be possible.
Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0; ranked No. 6)
Time/TV: 4:30 PM ET, ESPN
While Clemson is arguably the best team in the ACC, the Gamecocks are still going to be a bigger challenge with extremely talented lines on both sides of the ball, as well as a defense that makes the Tigers look a bit silly. Despite the tough love that Jadeveon Clowney has been getting for his “disappointing” game against UNC, he is still the best defensive end in the country, and he changed the way UNC head coach Larry Fedora deployed his offense before making a single play.
Georgia Offense vs. South Carolina Defense
This is going to be the most interesting match-up of the game. Can Aaron Murray get past the struggles he faced against a Clemson defense while going up against a much bigger and more talented South Carolina defense? Will Todd Gurley be able to create as much on the ground against arguably the nation’s best defensive line? The initial answers should be no, of course those things aren’t going to happen, but this is still a talented Georgia offense, they just have to show up at some point.
The game plan should be to throw the ball a bit more. With Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley and Rantavious Wooten each producing 45+yards receiving last week, the weapons are still there. Aaron Murray is going to want to get rid of the ball quicker and hope that Clowney and the rest of the D-line don’t have too much fun in the backfield. This is going to be much bigger challenge since he won’t be throwing into a weak Clemson secondary again. If everything goes well, Murray and the receivers can try and wear down the South Carolina line, while then hoping Gurley can exploit that on the ground. However, with the way Georgia’s offensive line played at times last week, Murray might be lucky just to get the ball off.
Georgia Defense vs. South Carolina Offense
This should be a much more beneficial match-up for the Bulldogs, even with the defense struggling last week against Clemson. South Carolina was only able to score 27 points against a poor UNC defense (and terrible secondary), so there is definitely hope to keep them at bay.
Spurrier will likely take advantage of his huge offensive line and run the ball more often than putting it up in the air. Against UNC, South Carolina only threw the ball 21 times while rushing 38 times. This is where it might get tricky for the Georgia defense, as QB Connor Shaw showed that he was not afraid to run the ball–in fact he seemed to love it. He rushed 12 times and picked up 43 yards which is nothing spectacular, but should be enough to keep teams off balance. Sophomore RBs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds both picked up 12 carries as well averaging 9.6 and 5.3 yards per carry, respectively.
Shaw can’t throw the ball as well as Tahj Boyd but he can still get the job done, especially if he is going to have the time to sit back and relax in the pocket. Georgia is going to have to come hard on the line and try to disrupt some things or Spurrier will be fine pounding the ball on the ground over and over again, while Clowney and company rest up on the sideline.
Stay tuned for post-game coverage, but until then, focus on what is likely the most important and influential game of the season for the Georgia Bulldogs.