Our 2013 NCAA Football schedule continues Saturday afternoon as Georgia welcomes South Carolina to Athens. We’ll have complete coverage beginning at 4 PM Eastern on our WestwoodOne affiliates coast-to-coast and streaming live right here on WestwoodOneSports.com!
To get you ready for the game, our analyst Rocky Boiman, who will call the game on Saturday, filed this scouting report on the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks.
In a Nutshell: National title expectations were buzzing around the Georgia Bulldog football program after a 2012 campaign that saw them literally come up just five yards short of beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Combine last year’s success with a 2013 campaign that returns a 10,000 career passing yard quarterback in Aaron Murray and the deadliest one-two running back punch in college football, and even non-SEC fans can see the reason for great promise this season. Thoughts of a dream season were extinguished after a season-opening loss to Clemson last week, but fear not Bulldog fans, a convincing win over a strong South Carolina team this week can put Georgia right back into the title conversation.
Payer I’ll Be Watching: Sophomore running back Todd Gurley. Gurley was exceptional last week in the loss to Clemson rushing for 154 yards and two TDs on his way to SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Of particular note were Gurley’s three runs of over 20 yards showing full-speed explosion through the hole, then a sixth-gear to run away from linebackers and defensive backs. It will be critical for Gurley and Georgia’s offensive line to have an exceptional game versus South Carolina to keep the ‘Dogs out of the third-and-long situations that plagued them last week.
What the Bulldogs Must Do to Win: Corralling Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw would be a good start. Shaw is a dual-threat guy who excels at the deep ball, but his best attribute is his ability to scramble for first downs, especially on third-and-medium/short. Georgia’s defense must not allow rush lanes to open up and instead needs to force Shaw to beat them from the pocket – something I don’t think he has the ability to do.
In a Nutshell: The Gamecocks also entered 2013 with high expectations after a 2012 season that saw them go 11-2. Had it not been for back-to-back mid-season losses to LSU and Florida and a season plagued by injuries to key guys on both sides of the ball, South Carolina could have made it to the SEC Championship Game as well. This season, the Gamecocks have answered questions of a lack of playmakers at the running back position with both Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds having solid games in their season opening win versus UNC. The Gamecocks’ small but speedy wide receivers Shaq Roland, Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington also showed much playmaking ability. Oh yeah, and on defense they have this guy named Jadeveon Clowney, who despite criticisms of his conditioning, is still an absolute terror for opposing offenses.
South Carolina’s offense exploded in the first quarter of the opener versus UNC with 203 yards and 17 points before stalling a bit on the way to a comfortable 27-10 victory. They look to have all the weapons on offense and defense needed to make a serious title run.
Player I’ll Be Watching: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw. Shaw is everything you want in a quarterback: tough, smart and athletic. The knock on him last year – and at times in the opener this year – is that he sometimes lacks poise in the pocket and doesn’t believe what he sees in the passing game. If he can gain some consistency in his ability to read defenses and hit open wide receivers, he can have a big night.
What the Gamecocks Must Do to Win: Stop the run defensively. No one questions South Carolina’s ability to get after the quarterback with defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton and others. But Georgia showed in its opener that it has the offensive line and running back in Todd Gurley to pound teams in the run game. The Gamecocks must be great in shutting down the run on first and second down to get in third-and-long situations where that aggressive and athletic defensive line can feed.
– Rocky Boiman
John Tautges and Rocky Boiman will be on the call in Athens. Coverage begins at 4 PM Eastern and you can listen to the broadcast right here on WestwoodOneSports.com.