Georgia vs. South Carolina – Dawgs Weren’t Even Prepared for a GOOD Game by the Cocks


On October 9th, 2010 the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide rolled into Columbia South Carolina for an afternoon game against a South Carolina Gamecock squad that was reeling from a loss to Auburn.  The Cocks jumped on the Tide with a 14-3 advantage at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, taking down the reigning National Champions and the nation’s best team by a final score of 35-21.

So, to say that it would be impossible for Mark Richt and company to predict a performance like South Carolina put on this past Saturday evening is probably off-base.  South Carolina columnist Ron Morris who has become famous recently for an ongoing tiff with Steve Spurrier didn’t compare Saturday’s win over Georgia to the game two years ago against Saban.  He called Saturday’s opening quarter the best in the program’s history saying, “It was a knockout blow like no one USC has ever delivered before in a game of this magnitude.”

So there was no way for Georgia to be prepared for that, right?  Wrong.  While it might have been hard to expect the level of play we (Georgia players, coaches and fans alike) thought we saw from South Carolina – especially after their early season struggles with Vanderbilt and a lackluster win over Kentucky seven days prior – Georgia should have been prepared for it.  Because, while South Carolina played the best quarter I’ve seen this season and in doing so showed arguably the highest “upside” of any team in the country, everything they did right was something that could have been prepared for.  Everything they did right was everything that they wanted to do.

South Carolina Offense

South Carolina opened the game with a run by Marcus Lattimore – nothing out of the ordinary – and they would go back to him 23 more times throughout the night with varying degrees of success.  But, they followed that play with a play action bomb to Damiere Byrd.  Could Georgia have been prepared for that play?  Absolutely.  Connor Shaw had connected on nearly 90% of his passes over the two previous games, and while those passes were mostly short in distance, everyone in the Southeast knows Spurrier’s aptitude for big-play gambles.  Bacarri Rambo even looked prepared for such an assault as he was in good enough position to put not one – but two!!! – hands on a potential interception only to have it taken away by a receiver who was 3 inches shorter and 42 pounds lighter than the once All-American caliber safety.

Shaw’s completion to Byrd was almost exactly like this play by backup QB Dylan Thompson, except Bacarri Rambo was actually in good positioning.

A few plays later Connor Shaw scrambled for nine yards while UGA seemed content to watch him for the first five yards of the gain, even though Shaw had averaged 15 carries and 70 yards rushing in the three games (Vandy, UAB, Mizzou) in which he’d received significant playing time this year.  Shaw would later run 13 more times and averaged over 5.6 yards per attempt on the night.  On the next play Shaw scrambled before finding Bruce Ellington for a 20 yard TD.  What could have been an interception with proper execution or a drive limited to a field goal with proper awareness of Shaw’s capabilities turned into 7 points in just 2:32 of game time.

It was clear at this juncture that Todd Grantham’s defense had not prepared for South Carolina’s best offensive attack.  Had they gotten it?  Maybe.  But frankly all South Carolina had done on the first drive was execute to a realistically “good” extent.  Connor Shaw connected on two passes and ran for nine yards.  Lattimore had two carries for five yards.  It was an impressive drive to open the game by the Cocks’, but nothing super-human.  And, perhaps more importantly, nothing that Georgia shouldn’t have been able to stop.

South Carolina Defense

Georgia’s first possession opened with a 15 yard run by Todd Gurley on first down from the 47.  The run followed a 48 yard return by Malcolm Mitchell and marked the last optimistic moment for the Bulldogs as far as this Georgia fan was concerned.  Bobo then fancied things up with a reverse that lost two yards.  Not surprisingly, a team with a fierce front four was able to contain Malcolm Mitchell on a trick play to the same extent that Tennessee had.

On 2nd and 12 Murray and the offense needed yards, he threw a pass that was tipped by 6 foot 4 defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and intercepted by DeVonte Holloman.  Just like that the game was over.

Carolina’s second offensive drive featured five rushes by Lattimore for 23 yards, a 3/5 passing effort by Shaw for 38 yards, another eight-yard run by Shaw and a TD catch by Rory Anderson (who leads the Cocks’ in TD catches).  Carolina’s offense was undeniably steady on a day that Georgia couldn’t come close to catching – much less stopping – steady.

Down 14-0 and in a bind the Dawgs promptly passed on first down (an incomplete pass to Rantavious Wooten) before going back to Gurley for a two yard run and throwing another incompletion, this time to Tavarres King.

When Georgia went to punt a mere nine and a half minutes into the game, both teams had completed two offensive possessions.  South Carolina had held the ball for 7:18, Georgia for only 1:12.  South Carolina had 145 yards of offense, Georgia had 15.

  

The man on the left is South Carolina QB Connor Shaw.  The man on the right is the man who shot Arizone Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  If you can tell the two of them apart you must have a keener eye than I do.

 

Special Teams

Yet again I took great solace in not having a Special Teams Coach on Georgia’s sideline.  Wait, no I didn’t.  You see, only when a team doesn’t have a Special Teams Coach do you get to read play descriptions that read like the following:

Collin Barber (UGA) punt for 40 yards, returned by Ace Sanders (SCAR), fumbled, recovered by Ace Sanders (SCAR) at the 30, Ace Sanders (SCAR) for 70 yards, to the UGA 0 for a Touchdown.

What. The. Heck. Was. That.

As Barber’s punt sailed towards tiny little Ace Sanders and four Georgia defenders surrounded him I literally blurted out, “Oh yeah!” convinced that the threat had actually been minimized for a change.  Milliseconds later I had to recover with an, “OHHH NOOOOO!”

 

The Rest

The rest of the game really didn’t matter.  Immediately following the first Touchdown drive I knew it was going to be up to Murray and the offense to bail out an unfocused defense.  Immediately following the interception I knew that probably wasn’t going to happen unless the Cocks’ shot themselves in the foot.  Immediately following the second TD I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  And, immediately following the strategically fumbled punt that was returned for a TD I knew that the game would never be close.

If you wanted to use stats to paint a pretty picture for Georgia you could point out that after going down 21-0 Georgia played the Gamecocks pretty close.  Carolina mustered up 247 more yards to Georgia’s 209 and the score from that point forward was only 14-7 in favor of South Carolina.  You might even point to Georgia playing South Carolina even (7-7) during the fourth quarter.

But all of those rose-colored insights would be misrepresentations, because the game was unequivocally  over in under 10 minutes of play.  The last 50 minutes was Georgia reeling and South Carolina taking one long victory lap.

 

The Coaching Staff

Georgia’s coaching staff completely, utterly, undeniably failed to prepare the Bulldogs for a great game by the Cocks.  It is one thing for me – a fan and amateur writer – to say that South Carolina is inconsistent in execution and hasn’t shown much upside (which I said in many ways last Friday).  It’s another for coaches to give that impression to their players.  There was a vast miscalculation on the part of the players (and therefore, I think on the part of the coaches) as to the talent on the field for South Carolina and the capabilities of that talent in Steve Spurrier’s hands.

I implied (or maybe even said directly) yesterday that at the end of the day this was a loss on the road to a good team in a hostile environment that has always been a toss-up in my mind.  I implied that the score of the game – in the big picture (read: in November) – doesn’t matter.  But, the first 10 minutes of this game matter tremendously.

The first 10 minutes of this game showed Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Tech and maybe even Georgia Southern that if you can play perfectly for 10 minutes against Georgia you can take the fight out of the Dawgs.  And by “perfectly” I mean perfectly within the context of what you want to accomplish within your standard gameplan.  I don’t mean hail mary passes, trick plays and beneficial pushes from the wind.  I mean that if you come out and accomplish in the first 10 minutes what you want to accomplish on offense, defense and special teams you can beat the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

I’m not sure what Richt and company prepared for, but they sure as hell didn’t prepare for a good game from the Gamecocks.  The most embarrassing part of Saturday’s game is the fact that nothing done in the first 10 minutes by the Gamecocks was anything outside of the ordinary for them.  Lattimore always runs for five or six yards.  Connor Shaw loves to scramble for 8 or 10 yards here and there.  Ace Sanders is always a threat to return a kick.  Rory Anderson consistently catches TD passes.  Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor are always 6 foot 6 and 6 foot 8.  Always.  Georgia failed miserably to prepare for those constants.  In doing so, Georgia didn’t fail to prepare for a great game by South Carolina.  Georgia failed to prepare for a South Carolina game by South Carolina.

 

Showing Up Flat

Richt has been getting a lot of flack for saying that Georgia didn’t play a “flat” game on Saturday evening.  It may sound counter-intuitive but I think I agree with him.  But to make sense of it all you might need to think of it in this context:

After the game DadYouCrazy recommended that CMR come out with one of two confessions following the game.  Richt needed to admit that either a. South Carolina is by far more talented than Georgia is or b. admit that Steve Spurrier and his coaching staff far outcoached Richt, Grantham and Bobo.

By saying that his team wasn’t “flat” I think he’s conceding to DadYouCrazy’s second accusation.

 

The Good News

The week after their upset win over Alabama in 2010 South Carolina traveled to Lexington Kentucky to take on the 3-3 (0-3 in SEC play) Kentucky Wildcats.  The Gamecocks lost that game.  Let’s hope history can repeat itself in Baton Rouge this weekend against a much more talented LSU squad and in a much more hostile environment.

About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on October 9, 2012, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

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