Georgia football: 3 things I want to see from the Bulldogs against South Carolina
Georgia shouldn’t have any trouble with South Carolina on Saturday, right?
Well, that’s what we thought the last time they met at Sanford Stadium on Oct. 12, 2019.
Four quarters and 2 overtimes later, Rodrigo Blankenship missed his 2nd field goal of the day and the Gamecocks were celebrating a victory that snapped the Bulldogs’ 16-game winning streak between the hedges.
Last year’s edition of the SEC East matchup was much more straightforward as the Dawgs trounced the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. And all signs point to the same outcome this year in Athens as Georgia’s defense has been clicking through 2 games — 0 offensive touchdowns allowed thus far — with its offense joining the party against UAB thanks to a historic performance by Stetson Bennett IV in place of JT Daniels.
Meanwhile, rookie head coach Shane Beamer knows his Gamecocks have nothing to lose as he’ll be looking for an early signature win that would put a crimp in the Bulldogs’ College Football Playoff hopes.
Here are 3 things I’m looking for on Saturday night:
1. A sustained and effective running game
The Gamecocks’ run defense stopped Eastern Illinois in Week 1, but ECU was able to run the ball rather decently in Week 2. Rahjai Harris had 14 carries for 70 yards, averaging out to 5 yards a carry.
And while the Bulldogs’ running backs haven’t been completely shut out this year, they’ve been missing a bit of an edge over the first 2 games. They totaled 121 yards on 31 carries against Clemson on Sept. 4 before a 163-yard showing against the Blazers. Saturday’s contest against the Gamecocks presents a good chance to kick things into gear and establish a ground attack.
In fact, we saw it last year when the Dawgs rolled up 351 rushing yards, and while it was against a Gamecocks defense that had nothing to play for except pride less than 2 weeks after the firing of Will Muschamp, that was a glimpse at what this group is capable of behind a strong offensive line.
2. Brock Bowers remaining engaged within the Bulldogs’ offense
I’ve been impressed with the true freshman as he’s filled in admirably for Darnell Washington, who has been out with a foot injury. Bowers accounted for a pair of touchdowns during Stetson Bennett IV’s explosive performance against UAB.
What’s next for the California native against the Gamecocks? Granted, Bowers isn’t going to break the 100-yard mark in every game, but it’s important that Todd Monken keeps him involved and provides him plenty of chances to make an impact, whether it’s Daniels or Bennett starting Saturday.
3. The underclassmen continuing to get in on the act defensively
Freshmen and redshirt freshmen had a large role to play on both sides of the ball against UAB.
Kelee Ringo earned his first career interception, as did Jamon Dumas-Johnson, who put an exclamation point on the day with a pick-6 well into mop-up duty. We also saw contributions from Xavian Sorey, who had a tackle for a loss, along with Smael Mondon, credited with a pair of tackles.
Ringo looks as if he’ll be the other cornerback in Dan Lanning’s defense and may get the call ahead of Ameer Speed. Sorey is looking to push MJ Sherman for the 2nd “Sam” linebacker slot behind Adam Anderson, so the coaches will be keeping an eye on his progress as the season progresses. Mondon could be in the mix for more time at the Money LB spot.