Thomas Brown finished that game, a 17-15 victory, with a career-high 144 yards and Georgia rushed for 238 overall, its highest total against an SEC opponent all year.
The Bulldogs (1-0) should hope it doesn’t come down to that again this season.
“I think they are much more stout against the run right now,” said Coach Mark Rich, who takes his team to Columbia to face the Gamecocks on Saturday at 7:45 p.m.
The difference is scheme. When Georgia faced South Carolina early last year, John Thompson still was the Gamecocks’ co-defensive coordinator and still was using his unorthodox line formations and shifts. The alignment sometimes confused blockers but sometimes left large running lanes.
Thompson and head coach Steve Spurrier eventually clashed over the defensive style, and Thompson was demoted six weeks after the Georgia game. He eventually left the team, and a dispute over whether he was fired or quit was settled by lawyers and a contract settlement in January.
Now South Carolina’s defense belongs solely to Tyrone Nix.
“It’s a lot different, unless they revert back to some things they were doing last year,” Richt said. “I don’t expect we’ll see some of the crazy looks we saw. They settled in and played a lot better defense as the season went on. By the end of last year, they were pretty set in what they’re doing now.”
The Gamecocks allowed Mississippi State 161 yards, 79 on the ground and 82 through the air, in a 15-0 victory last week.
“It’s unbelievable how many new starters they have and how well they played,” Richt said. “They’re very well coached, very fast, very physical. They look an awful lot like our defense to be quite frank with you, in scheme and with attitude and effort.”
The Bulldogs’ offense hardly set the world on fire against Division I-AA Western Kentucky. Their 295 yards of total offense was the same amount Southern Miss managed against Florida this weekend, and it ranks 76th in the country.