South Carolina Week: Game Preview
Richard Samuel

Posted Sep 12, 2009


ATHENS - Dawg Post's look at Georgia's game with South Carolina.

Georgia (0-1) vs. South Carolina (1-0)
Where: Athens
When: 7:05 ESPN2
Last meeting: Georgia 14, South Carolina 7, Sept. 13, 2008 in Columbia, S.C.

Georgia: The new-look Georgia offense was dreadful after a successful opening drive, particularly in the passing game where Joe Cox struggled to complete just 15-of-30 passes and the unit committed three turnovers.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks mustered just seven points against NC State in their opener but it was enough to win. Coach Steve Spurrier said the team played too conservative, however, and vows to open up the offense this week.

EDGE: Georgia

Defense:

Georgia: After earning loads of criticism last season, the Georgia D looked sharp against Oklahoma State but failed to collect a single turnover or sack in the game. The unit needs to make the most of their opportunities this week, particularly with the offense struggling to score points.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks lost starting middle linebacker Rodney Paulk to a season-ending injury, but the gain defensive end Clifton Geathers, who returns from a one-game suspension. Cliff Matthews and Devin Taylor could give Georgia’s offensive line headaches throughout.

EDGE: South Carolina

Special teams:

Georgia: Blair Walsh booted a career-long 53-yard field goal last week and Drew Butler is the nation’s leading punter, but Georgia continued to have trouble covering kickoffs and a flag negated its best return of the day against Oklahoma State.

South Carolina: Kicker Spencer Lanning shanked a 27-yard field goal and another attempt was mishandled from the snap, but the Gamecocks did managed to block a punt against NC State last week.

EDGE: Georgia

Coaching:

Georgia: Mark Richt has never had an easy time against the Gamecocks, but he is 6-2 against South Carolina since coming to Georgia. Last week, however, the coaching staff appeared confused as to how best to deploy the offense, and they’ll need to find answers quickly against a stout Gamecocks defense.

South Carolina: There was a time when Steve Spurrier was the object of Georgia fans’ nightmares, but since coming to South Carolina, his teams have averaged just fewer than 11 points per game and won just once. The task of finding more offense during this year’s meeting won’t be any easier.

EDGE: Georgia

Key matchups

Offense: Left tackle Vince Vance vs. defensive end Cliff Matthews. Vance steps in for the injured Trinton Sturdivant, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear last week. He’ll get a tough opening challenge against Matthews, one of South Carolina’s all-time best pass rushers.

Defense: Linebacker Rennie Curran vs. South Carolina’s running backs. Curran was the hero last season as he dislodged the football from tailback Mike Davis at the goal line to preserve a Georgia win. The Bulldogs’ top priority this time around will still be stopping the run, ideally with a few big plays like Curran had last season mixed in.

Prediction: Georgia 14, South Carolina 10


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