With one game played for each school, it’s difficult to tell the personalities of these two teams. UGA looked lost and confused against the smaller, more active Boise State in the Georgia Dome and Carolina looked very mediocre in the 1st half against East Carolina before putting in Stephen Garcia and pulling away late.
Which teams will show up?
For UGA, this is a must win game. Period. End of sentence. Head Coach Mark Richt has to get the Dawgs fired up to play for something. Maybe he will post his resume on the locker room door to get his players motivated.
Last week’s “Debacle in the Dome” was costly as Georgia lost its hard-hitting inside LB Alec Ogletree for 6 weeks due to a broken bone in his foot. Left Guard Kenarious Gates was injured as well but is expected to suit up Saturday. Starting RB Richard Samuel was obviously not 100% and looked as if he reinjured his left quadriceps.
South Carolina enters pretty healthy after playing its first game. It returns all players including an All-SEC CB. Carolina’s Defensive line is stacked across the line with two very active pass rushers. Aaron Murray was sacked six times last week and he will need to be on his toes again this week. All-World #1 recruit in the Nation Jadeveon Clowney will look to make a statement in his 1st SEC start. QB Stephen Garcia will be the starter and hopes to continue his hot play from last week. Last year, Marcus Lattimore ran wild through the UGA defense and after watching Boise State’s OL man-handle John Jenkins and company last week, it will be a tall order to contain Lattimore this week.
If – and that is a big if – UGA’s front three can get pressure on Garcia, he is prone to panic and throw some interceptions. UGA had zero sacks last week. Any pressure will help the UGA secondary deal with Alshon Jeffery. He is a big, physical receiver who can change a game in a hurry. He will be sure to get double-teams and draw a safety who could be supporting the run vs. Lattimore.
UGA Keys of the Game:
- Get pressure on Garcia. Make him move his feet and help the secondary with Jeffery.
- Contain Garcia. Once he is out of the pocket, he is an able runner and can make plays with his feet.
- Run the darn ball. OC Mike Bobo didn’t utilize the Power I formation very much last week. UGA seemed to have success running behind a 270lbs fullback. Run at the Carolina pass rush to negate their speed up the field.
- Get the ball to your most dangerous players in space. Brandon Boykin’s 80 yard run was the only time he touched the ball on offense. Hmmm…maybe give it to him twice a game?
- Do something good early. This team has talent but also a “here we go again” complex. A TD early would help both sides of the ball.
Carolina Keys of the Game:
- Score early. It’s hard to believe the Sanford Stadium crowd is going to be very forgiving after last week and the “Boo Birds” will come out.
- Lattimore left, Lattimore right, Lattimore up the middle. Last year’s game in Columbia gave insight to Spurrier’s tactics. Run a play until the defense proves they can stop it. I see no reason for that to change this year.
- Stay balanced. Make UGA respect the pass as well as the run. Keeps UGA from loading the box to stop Lattimore and makes them very vulnerable to the deep ball and Alshon Jeffery.
- Take advantage of several freshman and back ups. ILB Alec Ogletree’s back up is a senior walk-on and LG Dallas Lee is a Freshman. Don’t think Spurrier won’t attempt to exploit these chinks in the armor.
As to a prediction, it is always hard to say how the first conference game will play out. I think UGA’s defense matches up more favorably against Carolina then Boise State’s quick paced, no-huddle offense. It will be a war up front on both sides of the ball. Based on that, I just don’t see UGA being able to compete for 4 quarters.
The game is being played at 4:30pm in what is sure to be 100F temps. We will see if the off-season conditioning program will pay benefits.
I do expect to see OC Mike Bobo back down on the side-line calling plays and that should alleviate some of the confusion on the offense. Todd Grantham’s defense had better be ready for a strong dose of smash mouth football.
In the end I think Spurrier does what he has to win and keeps the Gamecocks rolling towards a SEC East title.
Prediction: USC 34 – UGA 14