Georgia Shutout Forces Gamecocks To Regroup

COLUMBIA, S.C. Steve Spurrier watched a streak of 193 consecutive games of his teams not being shut-out come to an end Saturday night, as his team drove inside the two yard line on two different occasions and yet failed to score, causing them to fall to the Georgia Bulldogs 18-0.

They also missed on a 51 yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop in the second quarter.

Spurrier took the blame on himself after the game, stating "I didn't call a very good one… I'm blaming myself. It's up to me as the offensive coach to make some changes. "

It was a frustrating night for Gamecock players, coaches, and fans as a crowd of 82,513, including a large group of highly touted recruits, watched Georgia overcome their own multiple mistakes and come out with a victory, led by true freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford came into the game on Georgia's second drive of the game in the first quarter, after starter Joe Tereshinski had to leave the game for good after Georgia's first drive due to a right ankle injury. In the same stadium where Quincy Carter once threw five interceptions, Stafford threw three interceptions but still walked out a hero at the end of the night.

South Carolina fell to 1-1 overall and in SEC play. It was Georgia's fifth straight win in this series and stopped South Carolina's school-record SEC winning streak at six games. Georgia improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC.

The South Carolina defense struggled against Georgia's running game, but kept the game in contention despite the lack of offense. The Gamecocks held Georgia to a field goal on Tereshinski's only drive of the game, when the Bulldogs drove the ball down the field largely on the strength of their running game, but were stopped at the USC 27 yard line and forced to settle for the field goal.

Fred Bennett ended Stafford's first drive with an interception of a poorly thrown ball at the USC 28. Georgia's next possession ended in a touchdown, as Danny Ware rushed seven times in the drive, taking pressure off the freshman quarterback Stafford, who made two out of four passes on the drive.

Stafford's passing for 59 yards drove the Dawgs to the USC 2 on the next Georgia drive, but he was again intercepted, this time by Chris Hampton on a pick at the Carolina goal line.

The defense's heroics were destined to not be enough this night, as the Bulldogs quickly added two more points when USC's Mike Davis was swarmed and tackled in the end zone on a safety with 51 seconds left in the first half.

Spurrier commented on the first half play. "Give Georgia credit. We only had the ball 24 times in the first half." He said. "They were good."

In the second half the Bulldog defense held the Gamecocks out of the end zone on four plays from the Georgia 5-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Gamecock quarterback Blake Mitchell fumbled the ball short of the goal line. A South Carolina player recovered the ball in the end zone, but, by rule, a ball can't be advanced by a fumble on fourth down.

Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt said, "We had to play some fantastic goal line defense today."

The Bulldogs got the ball on their 1-yard line and essentially cinched the victory when Stafford rumbled 22 yards on a quarterback drive to convert a third-and-eight from Georgia's 3-yard line. Georgia stopped another first-and-goal, this time from the 9-yard line, with 6:11 left in the game.

The focus coming out of last week's game against Mississippi State was on the weak play of the offensive line. The already thin line was further weakened by an ankle sprain suffered by Gurminder Thind. The offensive line only gave up one sack all evening, and that one was by backup Justin Sorenson, who had just come in to replace the injured Thind.

Spurrier had good and bad things to say about the play of the offensive after the Georgia game. The good: "The pass protection was pretty decent." The bad: "I can't stand watching our offensive line up right now. We had some problems. We had a few drives here and there, but we kept stopping ourselves. Being held to 18 points, we should be playing a lot better and we're not. We'll make some changes, I'll announce them later. I just can't watch what we're doing now. If it means playing a bunch of freshmen, that's fine. I'm tired of watching this. We can't get it going. I take some of the blame. I called a lousy game, so we'll try to get better."

The USC rushing game was again ineffective. Quarterback Blake Mitchell was the leading rusher for the game, rushing for 22 net yards out of a total 35 net yards gained by the team. Mitchell's passing numbers were decent, completing 16 out of 22 passes for 156 yards, with no interceptions. Three fumbles in the second half, two by Mitchell and one by Brandon Wallace effectively killed any momentum USC had offensively in the half.

After Mitchell suffered a hand contusion, freshman Chris Smelley came in and looked sharp initially, driving the team down to the Georgia 2 yard line, before two incompletions on third and fourth down plays ended the threat.

After the disappointing loss to the Bulldogs, the Gamecocks will now look to refocus and begin preparations for Wofford, who will come to Williams Brice Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories