GEORGIA WILL BEAT SOUTH CAROLINA AND HERE IS WHY...
Spurrier this, Spurrier that, Dawgs hate Spurrier, Spurrier hates Dawgs, blah blah blah. This game is not about Steve Spurrier. Mark Richt is not scared of Steve Spurrier. CMR has a 2-1 edge on SOS as a head coach. As an offensive coordinator at FSU, CMR had a 5-3-1 record against Spurrier's Gators. CMR's Dawgs are 5-1 against South Carolina with a current 5 game winning streak. The whole Spurriercentric focus on this game is being run into the ground and is not the key to the game. This game will be close because it is always close. It was close long before Spurrier got to Columbia. It will continue to be close as long as it is the SEC opener for both of these teams with all of the dreams and hopes still intact for both teams and their respective fans.
The Georgia players will not have or need any additional motivation to beat the Gamecocks because SOS is their coach. They will have all the motivation they need because it is the SEC opener. We fans, on the other hand, we have tons of extra motivation because it is the Evil Visor on the other sideline. This point notwithstanding, here are the keys to the game for Georgia...
1. Many are expecting us to try to establish the run early on. I think our game plan will be balanced early on as it was against OSU. Our quick passing game may not be as effective against the speed on SC's defense, but it still helps develop a rhythm for the QB and receivers and also softens the middle for our backs Thomas Brown and Knowshon Moreno. If SC plans to crowd the line to stop the run and limit the effectiveness of screens and quick slants, then we should have success going over the top a time or two. If SC gives our receivers a small cushion, then look for quick hitters and if our play makers can make the first man miss, we will keep the chains moving. Naturally, I expect SC will mix it up between press coverage and zone. That leads to the first true key of the game... Matthew Stafford's reads and checks. The coaches praised his recognition last week and if he is able to make the right calls most of the time again this week, we will score enough points to win.
2. Last week, our receivers did a great job catching the ball. Let's hope it is contagious and that this trend continues. The second key... no dropped passes on third downs.
3. Also last week, our receivers did a great job aggressively blocking down field. With the quickness into the hole that was shown last week by Brown and Moreno, our green offensive line will not necessarily have to hold there blocks as long as we would like. Once our backs get into space, the third key... aggressive blocking by our receivers will make the difference in gaining yards in chunks against SC.
1. Against OSU's athletic QB Bobby Reid, we had 5 sacks and multiple pressures. He was under relentless pressure all night. Our smallish ends are tremendously quick and if they are able to pressure Blake Mitchell as effectively as they did Reid, SC will not score enough points to win. The first key for our defensive ends... G.A.T.A.
2. Our linebackers had a great game against OSU. They played with speed and aggression. Spurrier will try to scheme us such that this aggression is used against us by runnning misdirections and counters hoping our guys will over pursue - a problem we have had in the past. The second key... playing fast but under control.
3. Against OSU, our defense got schooled a couple of times in the first half by their talented and experienced offense which scored 14 points by intermission. However, we seemed to turn up the intensity in the second half and took away everything they tried to do. This will be a key again Saturday... making necessary half-time adjustment.
1. Coutu vs Succop. This game features two of the best kickers in the country. Neither had a shot at a field goal last week. However, last year, Coutu made 3 long field goals against the Gamecocks from 42, 46 and 46 yards. While I certainly hope that we are able to get in the end zone when we are deep in the red zone, I am comforted by the prospect of reaching for long field goals when necessary. The first special teams key... Coutu kicking long field goals and not short field goals.
2. Mikey Henderson. I said it last week and I will say it again and again, it is not a question of "if" it is a matter of "when." Second key... we need "when" this weekend.
Okay, there are some exceedingly obvious keys to the game. They are not novel our revolutionary, but if the Dawgs follow my keys to the game, we will extend our streak to 6 straight.
My prediction is GEORGIA 27 - S. CAROLINA 20.