Keys To Victory Against Georgia
I. Offensive Line Play
One week after struggling to contain the talented Mississippi State defensive front, the South Carolina offensive line will once again have their hands full when they play host to the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs feature what many consider to be the best tandem of defensive ends in the SEC with Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson, and in order for the Gamecock offense to be successful on Saturday night, the offensive line will have to give an inspired effort.
It is no secret that the Gamecocks possess a wealth of quality skill players on offense, and expectations are high this season for that very reason, but they will need time operate this evening in order for the Gamecocks to have a chance at pulling the upset. If the line can provide Blake Mitchell with enough time to operate in the pocket, then the Gamecock wide receivers hold a clear advantage when matched up against the Bulldog secondary.
Look for South Carolina to try a variety of looks this evening to counteract the Georgia pressure, including multiple two tight end sets, max protection calls, and even working out of the shotgun formation. Like the old cliché states, "it all starts up front," and if the Gamecocks hope to emerge victorious this evening, then it will begin with improved play along the offensive line.
II. Contain the Georgia rushing attack
If there is one thing that the Georgia Bulldogs do well year in and year out, it is run the football. Head Coach Mark Richt is a firm believer in old school football, as his main goals on the gridiron are simply to run and stop the run. It may sound elementary, but Richt has brought great success to the Georgia football program by living off those simple truths.
When Richt leads his defending SEC Champion Bulldogs into the hostile confines of Williams Brice Stadium on Saturday evening, his first and only goal on offense will be to establish the run. With one of the best stables of running backs in the nation and an unproven quarterback behind center, there really is no other way for the Bulldogs to play. They will attempt to establish the run in ultimate smash mouth fashion, and if they happen to struggle initially, they will stick with it in hopes of wearing down the defense.
The South Carolina defense struggled mightily stopping the run last season, but after an offseason dedicated to improving in that area, the Gamecocks are going to face their first real test tonight. The South Carolina front seven features two potential All-SEC candidates in middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley and defensive tackle Marque Hall, and the Gamecocks will need stellar performances from both Brinkley and Hall, as well as a superb team effort on defense if they hope to slow down the vaunted Georgia rushing attack. If the Gamecocks are not able to contain the Georgia running game and allow big chunks of yardage on the ground, then that will play right into Mark Richt's hands.
III. Win The Turnover Battle
In a game that most believe will come down to a classic fourth quarter finish, the team that is able to win the turnover battle on Saturday evening will likely hold the upper hand. The Gamecocks are not yet at the level on either side of the ball where they can overcome costly turnovers, and if they wish to pull the upset tonight, then they will have to protect the football and hope to force a couple of their own on defense.
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