Georgia vs. South Carolina
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. (TV: ESPN, Radio: 940-AM)
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Tickets: Sold out
Kickoff weather: High of 84, low of 68, partly cloudy, 20 percent chance of rain
Series: Georgia leads 43-13-2
Last meeting: Georgia won 17-15 last year in Athens
Line: Georgia favored by 3.5 points
Injuries: Georgia: Questionable: FB Jason Johnson (ankle), DL Marquis Elmore (knee); Out: WR Mikey Henderson (hamstring), OL Zeb McKinzey (shoulder); Suspended: OL Dan Inman, OL Ian Smith, CB Thomas Flowers, LB Dannell Ellerbe. South Carolina: Probable: FB Lanard Stafford (ankle), C Chris White (shoulder); Doubtful: WR Moe Brown (ankle); Out: TE Andy Boyd (shoulder). Suspended: WR Noah Whiteside, S Ty Erving, OG James Thompson.
Both teams are on the verge of a controversy at running back. Thomas Brown would like to get a few more running lanes today to prove he’s truly Georgia’s best back. One bad game (vs. Western Kentucky) can be written off, but another would put the depth chart in question. For South Carolina, the versatile Cory Boyd outrushed starter Mike Davis 93 yards to 6 and also was the Gamecocks’ leading receiver last week against Mississippi State. Last year, Georgia did most of its damage on the ground, but the Gamecocks’ front seven is beefed up this year.
Joe Tereshinski will start for the Bulldogs, but every Georgia fan is expecting Matthew Stafford to get his chance eventually. Whoever is throwing the ball will have two new starters at wide receiver as A.J. Bryant and Mario Raley will replace Mohamed Massaquoi and Kenneth Harris in the starting lineup. South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell is healthy, and wide receiver Sidney Rice will be motivated coming off the lowest output in catches and yards ofhis career. However, Mitchell may not get any time to throw. Sophomore left tackle Gurminder Thind struggled mightily against Mississippi State, and he’ll be facing Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson this week. The Gamecocks’ entire offensive line played so poorly Spurrier abandoned seven-stop drops in that game.
The two key defenders in this game will be Georgia cornerback Paul Oliver and South Carolina linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Oliver draws the assignment for covering Rice, the conference’s most dangerous receiver. The Bulldogs played fairly well against Western Kentucky but missed enough assignments to have plenty of teaching points this week in practice. Brinkley, a new addition, should help South Carolina not give up 238 rushing yards as it did in last year’s meeting. The Gamecocks were worried about their defense entering the season and took a small sigh of relief after shutting out Mississippi State last week. However, MSU isn’t a capable offensive team, so there’s plenty left to prove.
Fake punt. Just the words send shivers down the back of Georgia fans who remember Florida and West Virginia converting critical fake punts in 2005 in two of the Bulldogs’ three losses last year. South Carolina comes into the game ready and able to fake a punt at any team. Sophomore punter Ryan Succop’s sprint-out style, which he uses at times, is the perfect set up for a fake, and Georgia will have to be ready on every kick. On kickoffs, the Bulldogs last week abandoned their pooch kick strategy and let Brandon Coutu kick the ball deep in the end zone for touchbacks. Expect a return of the pooch kick this week.