Out of all the times Georgia has faced South Carolina, this contest, which is set for Saturday afternoon, could be the most important for both teams.
For South Carolina, it would give them a leg up on the SEC East race and show the rest of the college football universe that the Gamecocks are here to stay.
As far as Georgia goes, they need to win this game for a number of reasons, two of which stand out as the most important.
First, they can’t afford to start the season 0-2. In the last 14 games, the Bulldogs have only won six and if they fall to South Carolina, that would hurt the team’s psyche and there’s no telling what the final record will be for the Bulldogs.
Secondly, Mark Richt’s job will be in great danger if it isn’t already. Richt has done a lot of good in his time at UGA and nobody will ever deny that. But things are not the same and if the team does not progress real soon, then there will be some changes.
This game will not be easy by any means. Boise was able to attack Georgia’s zone defense and the Bulldogs could never recover. In addition to that, the Georgia players had problems with cramps and seemed to be tired in the early stages of the game.
South Carolina, who is known for being a physical team will look to capitalize on that and try to break the Bulldogs morale in the early stages of the game. They will do it with Marcus Lattimore who is coming off a 112-yard, three-touchdown performance against East Carolina last week. If the Gamecocks are able to get Lattimore going early, expect Stephen Garcia to use play action and find Alshon Jeffery a lot.
Defensively, the Gamecocks are led by cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Devin Taylor. Gimore had 10 tackles last week while Taylor had three tackles and two quarterback hurries.
One of the good things to come out of the game against Boise State was eight freshman got significant playing time. Isaiah Crowell looked solid in his debut as well as Malcolm Mitchell. Nick Marshall, Corey Moore and Chris Sanders also saw a lot of action.
One thing that will hurt the Bulldogs going into the game on Saturday is the loss of linebacker Alec Ogletree for the next six weeks due to a broken foot.
Ogletree is arguably the team’s best defensive player and he will be missed because of the lack of depth at the inside linebacker position. However, Jarvis Jones looked good in his debut. He was good at rushing Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and he came up with some big tackles. Overall, the defense has to play better against a more physical offensive team.
As far as the offense goes for the Bulldogs, they are going to stick to two things they did last week. The first is Richard Samuel will start the game and Crowell will rotate often. Also, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will use no huddle despite not having that much success last week.
In fact, all the points scored by Georgia came from outside the red zone. The Bulldogs did not make one appearance in the red zone the entire game. The offensive line also has to do a better job as they allowed six sacks last week. Because of that, Aaron Murray was inconsistent in the pocket but he still threw two touchdowns in the loss.
The reality is everybody on the UGA roster has to play better this Saturday. They know what’s at stake if they don’t.
South Carolina will come into the game as a heavy favorite, but Georgia can win the game if they execute better.
Richt’s job may or may not be on the line, but one thing is for certain, no UGA player, coach, alumni, student or fan wants to have an 0-2 mark when the game clock strikes zero on Saturday night.