The No. 9 Bulldogs looked like world beaters as they put 48 points on Boise State, but didn’t fare nearly as well this week in a 17-15 win over South Carolina in which the offense posted the second-fewest passing yards (112) in the Mark Richt era. (The lowest total is 93 yards in his first season during a 35-15 win over Ole Miss.)
“Boise State’s defense, I think, will be different than any we play all year long,” Richt said the day after the Bulldogs moved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
The Broncos played soft zone coverage and let Georgia’s wide receivers come off the line of scrimmage and run routes without much harassment for most of the game. The Gamecocks played much more aggressively in coverage, with lots of man-to-man and bumping players at the line of scrimmage.
The Bulldogs’ best pass play of the game, a crucial 35-pass from D.J. Shockley to Bryan McClendon to convert third-and-18 in the fourth quarter, came against a zone defense.
“Our receivers didn’t fare very well and our tight ends didn’t fare very well against their man coverage,” Richt said.
With the passing game flummoxed, Richt went to the run, which many people felt would be the team’s strength this season. The Bulldogs ran the ball 32 more times than they passed it, and the result was a career-high 144 yards for Thomas Brown and 238 ground yards overall.
“We decided to run that ball and try to live with it,” Richt said. “One week we’ve kind of looked like a finesse passing team and then the next one we just flat out ran it and didn’t do anything much on the perimeter. It’s nice to have the confidence to know you can do that, and then if we can just get a little more vertical game and keep those safeties honest, I think we’ll get even more space with our backs.”