What to watch for: South Carolina vs. Georgia

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The SEC’s premier game during week two features the most underrated rivalry in the SEC. It’s a new hate brought about by one man, Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks have won the last three, but Georgia has won the East the last two years. This is a developing rivalry game, and it’s real.

Here are five things to watch for Saturday in Athens:

Protecting Murray: Georgia allowed four sacks last week to Clemson’s defense. Left tackles Kenarious Gates and Kolton Houston both struggled blocking the speed rush off the edge from the defensive end. Likewise, center David Andrews looked overmatched, and he committed some holding penalties. This week, Georgia welcomes one of the top defensive lines in the SEC. Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton will look to turn up the heat on Murray, and one of the biggest concerns is that Georgia may not even know who its starting five – the right combination – are right now. Expect OC Mike Bobo to steal a page out of UNC’s playbook to scheme the offense against the Gamecocks’ strength with some quick passes, screens and draws.

Running Game(s): Carolina has won the last three games backed by the running game. The Gamecocks have rushed for 672 yards compared to UGA’s 364. Georgia has the edge with the personnel of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, but Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds are capable of carrying the load, especially with the type of success Clemson had last week. Yes, Marcus Lattimore has been a major difference maker the last three years, but USC is 10-1 without him the last two years, including last week. Whichever running game succeeds and eats time of possession will have a big advantage.

Related: No Lattimore, no problem

Carolina secondary: This will be a great test. Aaron Murray may be missing Malcolm Mitchell for the season, but he has seasoned and talented veterans behind him to pick up the slack. The Tar Heels’ passing game finished fourth in the ACC last year, averaging over 290 yards per game, and the Gamecocks secondary played well holding them to 194 yards last week. But this is a whole different animal.

Corralling Shaw: Connor Shaw went all Connor Shaw last week. The SEC’s most underrated player improved to 18-3 as a starter. Shaw completed 11 of 20 passes for 149 yards and one TD. Again, not face-slapping numbers, but that’s why he’s Connor Shaw. He also rushed 12 times for 43 yards, and Georgia’s defense will have to contend with not only Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds, but Mr. Shaw, too. Spurrier is more concerned with getting an early lead and eating the clock with a running game, but Shaw will have to make some big plays to score with Georgia.

Special Teams: Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan is still out this week, and the one glaring play that stands out against Clemson is the botched field goal. Special teams and field position will be critical Saturday. South Carolina kicker Elliot Fry was 2-2 last weekend, but punter Tyler Hull recorded five punts last week for only 33.2 yards per punt. Georgia punter Collin Barber leads the SEC with 47.4 yards per punt.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • UGA does better when backed into a corner, like we are now. Definitely not predicting a win, but I think a better UGA team shows up. Problem is, I expect a better-than-last-week USCe team to show up, as well. Soooo, I think it’ll make for some really good football and hopefully the Dawgs can put an end to this stupid streak before it turns into the 90’s UGA/UF Series, Part II.

    • Why dont you just say USC. No cares about socal. Its an sec website people understand usc is the university of south carolina. Unless that is just your failed attempt at being demeaning towards the team and in that case you sound like a moron saying it. That being said I think youll see a different usc as well. If murray sticks to his drop back routine hes going to have a long afternoon. Clowney was unfairly criticized last week by espn wanting contreversy and ratings. Good luck and go gamecocks

      I do agree with you however. I think a better georgia shows up saturday except last year the games are always close. And hope we have a good game.

      • There was no intent to be demeaning with the USCe; that’s just my preference since I only think of USC as being USC. Get your panties out of a wad.
        Anyway, I agree Murray will have to get rid of the ball quickly because I don’t see our line blocking an angry Clowney. He has nothing to prove, but yet the F’ing media somehow found a way to make him think he does.

        • Clowney does have things to prove. That a bad virus can take down the best . And he won’t let Tajh Boyd stay out by a neck. After sacking him 5 times last year in D.V. He will accel. And other than UGA & USC Clem’s son plays NO ONE!!! Even as the cream of the crop in the ACC,they should only be scratching at the top 10!!

  • Out front by a neck for th Heisman!

  • If Georgia will stick to the power sweep and get Gurley the ball early, I see a better Georgia team. If Bobo would stick to his guns and play to his personnel, this could be a good game for Georgia. We need to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Bobo should know that we may not be able to stop Clowney on the pass rush and we should work some of this inside receiver screens we threw to Conley against Nebraska. Screens, quick passes, Gurley, and Murray stepping up in the pocket might be the only way to score. On defense, I really don’t know. Tackling was atrocious against Clemson and maybe the return of JHC will do the Defense some good. What do you guys think? Gamecocks tell me what you guys think. Go Dawgs

  • Spurrier calls C Cody Waldrop “questionable or doubtful.” I’m excited to see how our D can take advantage of an inexperienced center. UGA just moved Garrison Smith to nose.

  • “I hear that train a rolling, its coming around the bend, I ain’t seen number 7 since, oh, last October 6th, and” …………a Johnny Cash tune being hummed by Murray as he prepares for South Carolina when it all comes back to him, even though he had done everything he could to put it out of his mind………his hands shake a bit…he turns and looks behind…his forehead begins to sweat even though he is not doing anything,,,,he remembers October 6th so well….that 35-7 drubbing……and he wonders why he came back his senior year for……this? Would this be 4 years in a row the Bulldogs lost to the Gamecocks? Oh man…….

    Only three more days until gametime………

  • This game is one of the best “newer” rivalries in the SEC. Looking forward to it

  • I’ll be pulling for S.C. because at least one team needs to go undefeated in the SEC East in order to cement another SEC National Championship bid. In the west I don’t think Bama has what it takes to get it done this year and in the east Florida just commits too many penalties but I do think the Gamecocks have what it’s going to take.

  • Well…I will be watching from the 50 yard line and screaming like a maniac the entire time …hope the other 93k can keep up as well….we gotta step up our fan game and like Mrs Murray said…if you aren’t gonna stand, support, and cheer on this team through adversity then sell your tickets to someone who will.

  • As long as USCe fans respond they way they do, USCe will be used. UGA’s D line avg somewhere around 280lbs. They will be giving up some serious weight advantages to the USCe O Line. If UGA can stay balanced, avoid turnovers and improve slightly on Defense from last week then I think UGA squeaks out a win @ home.

    • I got no problem with the way anyone refers to the University of South Carolina. Whether it be USC, SC, or even USCe it doesn’t really matter as long as the GAMECOCKS keep winning. I see this being an instant classic and probably coming down to the last possession just like 2 years ago. I’ll be rooting hard for the Gamecocks all the way down here in the Southeast corner of Georgia. But! If Clowney gets to Murray at least twice in the first half then this game Chris Stasiak could get very UGAly!

      • One advantage UGA has this year is that when Clowney gets to Murray (and he will), the stadium won’t erupt. This will be a good game and hopefully Murray will have a fluke game, which will mean he actually plays well on the big stage.

    • Then you won’t mind UGAy or thUGA…if you want to be petty about it.

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