Everywhere I have been asked (DudeYouPodcasts, mostly), I have been a little down on Georgia’s prospects in this game. The win over Clemson (hey, we spend so much time talking about SEC superiority, right? Clemson shouldn’t have even showed up to Sanford Stadium) is vastly overrated, and I don’t think Georgia’s offense is built to exploit South Carolina’s defensive weaknesses exposed in the first two weeks by Texas A&M and East Carolina.
Defensively, I see Georgia as vulnerable to South Carolina’s two biggest strengths: running the ball with a healthy(ier) Mike Davis, and the deep passing game with Damiere Byrd, Nick Jones, Shaq Roland, and Pharaoh Cooper all able to stretch defenses vertically.
LET’S GET IT!
1) Make South Carolina One-Dimensional: To my point about the Georgia defense, the Dawgs can’t afford to play an ambidextrous South Carolina offense on the road. If the secondary can contain the vertical passing game, great. Mike Davis 4-5 yards at a time, relying on a Dylan Thompson mistake (likely in the short to intermediate range) and playing bend-but-don’t break…that’s a winning gameplan.
Conversely, taking Davis out of the game and taking chances one-on-one with the Cocks’ wideouts scares me a little more. Having spent more time than I want to claim in Columbia, nothing gets that crowd going more than a quick strike score (see also: 2012: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7). Heads on a swivel, Devin Bowman, Damian Swann, and co.
2) Hutson Mason: Efficiency: Spoiler alert, this is going to be a key until Mason has to win a game with his arm. What do I mean by efficiency? I mean keeping enough threat of burning SC with the passing game to keep them from loading the box on Gurley, the clone, and the sprinters.
Tell me Mason throws for 200 yards with no picks and 60% completions and I’m willing to bet Georgia is 2-0.
3) Composure: This is the all-encompassing ‘by far the toughest environment we’ll have to play in’ key. What happened in 2012 was the opposite of composure. Special teams errors, fumbles, picks, taking the first punch and never having a chance. Ugh.
Given the evidence we have thus far this season, the Dawgs should win this game with 200 yards both on the ground and through the air, with a couple Dylan Thompson turnovers to boot.
It doesn’t always work that way.