GamecockAnthem.com partner "The Zone" on ESPN Radio in Columbia 93.1 FM recently went in-depth with DawgPost.com Publisher Dean Legge. Look below for the transcript of host Tyler Cupp and Gamecock Anthem's Wes Mitchell's interview.
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TC: Is this a must win for Mark Richt?
DL: No, but it's about as close as it gets. You've got 12 games in the season and this is only the second one. With that said, I think you'll see a lot of people jumping off cliffs if they don't beat South Carolina Saturday.
WM: Who is going to replace injured linebacker Alec Ogletree? Who's going to have to step up to make up for that loss?
DL: Losing Alec Ogletree for the next 4-6 weeks really puts a damper on Georgia's ability to be as disruptive as they the first couple series against Boise. Jeremy Sulek, who is a walk-on, is probably going to play a lot. Whether or not he starts is a good question. Looks like he probably will. If he doesn't, it looks like it will probably be Mike Gilliard from south Georgia.
As far as who needs to step up, I think it's got to be Kwame Geathers. Kwame really played well in the game before he got a stinger. After that, it was tough to stop Boise. Kwame or John Jenkins have got to step up and slow Lattimore down then Georgia's going to have a chance to get off the field every now and then. Lattimore is really hard to knock back, he's really hard to knock sideways. He seems to always fall forward. The more you fall forward, the more yards you pick up, the more likely you're in second and six or second and five rather than second and eight. Those yards make a huge difference over time.
WM: When teams transition over to the 3-4, there can be an adjustment period. Georgia didn't seem to have the big nose tackle last year needed for it. Have you seen Georgia take the step needed to play the 3-4 this year?
DL: I think they definitely have players in spots that are more equipped to play the 3-4. You mention the nose, Kwame, and his backup John Jenkins. That allows DeAngelo Tyson to not play nose guard and to play defensive end. They were pretty good against the run. The problem was Boise didn't have to run. All they had to do was dink and dunk it down the field. The two injuries in the game came at the two spots they just could not get hurt at. I think Boise would have won anyway, but that certainly didn't help Georgia's chances.
TC: What are you hearing about quarterback Aaron Murray's injury?
DL: I have not heard anything about that. If he's injured, it's nothing serious. IF he's significantly hurt, that's the first I've heard of it.
WM: If Georgia can slow Marcus Lattimore down, how do you see the matchup of South Carolina's receivers and Stephen Garcia against Georgia's secondary?
DL: They're not going to be able to stop Alshon at all. He's as good as they get. If they stop Lattimore, South Carolina is going to lose. I think it's that simple. Garcia is a good quarterback who can go into his own little world sometimes as I think everyone knows. He's also a guy that can deliver the ball where it needs to go, and with Alshon Jeffery on his side, it makes things easier. Garcia wasn't unbelievable this past weekend, but there could have been a number of reasons why -- it could have been because he didn't start, it could have been because of the deficit, it could have been because he wasn't unstoppable. The thing about Garcia, like Murray, is those two guys can get out of the pocket and get a few yards with their legs. That's the other thing with South Carolina. Their offense really is quite good. I think if you can stop Lattimore, which I don't see happening, you still have to deal with everything else they can do. Jeffery as well as Garcia getting a few yards running down the field. This is probably as good an offense that South Carolina has had in a while.
WM: Is Georgia's offensive line as big a worry as it seems or did a lot of things just go wrong against Boise State?
DL: I think they have a lot of ability, but they aren't very good right now. I think all six of the sacks came on third down. They only played six linemen, and that's only because one of them got hurt. They didn't have a deep rotation. Crowell ran the ball okay, but he wasn't unbelievable in pass protection. That could have something to do with it too. There's so many things that got into pass protection including the quarterback's decision-making skills, the offensive line blocking, and then the running backs picking up blocks where they need to. Those things just didn't go the way they were supposed to go. I think if they can run the ball halfway effectively against Carolina, that will at least help them change some things up on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line is definitely the biggest concern coming into the game against South Carolina.
WM: Is this going to be another one of those grinded-out, Georgia-South Carolina games that is low-scoring that comes down to the fourth quarter?
DL: Neither defense played incredible defense this past weekend. When you get in conference, the defense seems to take over. We'll see just how good this Georgia defense is without one of its best playmakers in it. It always seems like the offense is having difficulty, particularly when they can't run the ball. South Carolina seemed to do whatever they wanted to do on the ground last year, but still only scored 17 points. That's the crazy part. In 09, everyone thought it'd be such a low-scoring close game, but both teams almost scored 80 points combined. My thinking is it can't be anything other than a low scoring game. It always is. This is an important game for both teams, and I think both defenses will be ready to roll.
WM: Special teams will probably be a big part of this game. Do you have to kick away from Brandon Boykin?
DL: You don't want to kick to him. You don't want him to have the ball in his hands. He touched it four times and had almost 150 yards on kickoff returns and running. He can really go, and he's just one part of it. The one thing that can change this is the special teams, which I think are better for Georgia. Blair Walsh isn't going to be perfect from 50 yards and in, but from 40 yards and in, it's going to be tough for him to miss. Drew Butler is probably the best punter in the country. They're good on special teams. Their kick returners are great. That's the one thing I'd be worried about if I were South Carolina. The other thing is Georgia can look like they're asleep when they're really not. It's fairly easy to overreact after the first game of the season. You've got to be careful and on the line for both of these teams. I don't expect it to be any different than a low-scoring close game.
From the other sideline: UGA
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