Well, E.S.P.N., now Steve Spurrier is 11-3 against Georgia. Could someone at the Worldwide Leader in Sports please distinguish between being the head coach of the Florida Gators and being the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks?
Not that anyone in Bristol noticed, but the Evil Genius is 21-27 in his last 48 games as a head football coach.
Here was how last night's game broke down:
- One day after Erk Russell's passing, the Georgia defense pitched a shutout. The Junkyard 'Dawgs dominated the game, seldom bending and never breaking. The Gamecocks twice ventured inside the Georgia two yard line, yet they were held scoreless. In fact, the Red and Black defense scored more points (2) than the unit allowed (0).
- The offense was balanced. Georgia had 10 first downs and 189 yards passing to go along with nine first downs and 198 yards rushing.
Danny Ware gained 43 yards on nine carries, caught one pass for 29 yards, and scored a rushing touchdown. (Photograph from Sports Illustrated.)
- Matthew Stafford---who was co-No. 3 in camp, sole No. 3 last weekend, and No. 2 yesterday---was effective under duress, connecting on eight passes for 171 yards and directing the offense much more efficiently than a true freshman could be expected to do when playing on the road against a tenacious conference opponent.
- Brandon Coutu was perfect on a trio of field goal tries---two from 46 yards and one from 42 yards---while Gordon Ely-Kelso averaged 47.7 yards per punt.
- Stafford threw three interceptions. Arguably, only one of them was truly his fault, but it's never a good thing when your quarterback's T.D.-to-pick ratio is zero-to-three.
- Injuries were a concern. Joe T.'s wounded ankle was one thing, but an already thin offensive line took some hits the 'Dawgs simply could not afford.
- For the most part, I have no quarrel with Mark Richt's play calling. That said, what was up with the three-and-out early in the fourth quarter? Georgia got the ball back with 11 minutes and 19 seconds remaining in the game. While I did not expect to see a 10-minute game-ending drive like the one Coach Richt orchestrated against Ole Miss in 2002, I thought we'd bleed a bit more time off the clock. Instead, Stafford threw two incomplete passes on second and third down before Georgia punted with 10 minutes and 20 seconds left.
- While the kicking game was, as always, extremely reliable, we shouldn't have to rely on it quite so much. The Bulldogs had every opportunity to punch in a second touchdown, which would have put the game away earlier . . . and they couldn't do it.
On the whole, I have no complaints. It has been 25 years since the last time Georgia shut out South Carolina and a conference road win against a tenacious rival is always a good thing. The 'Dawgs have now won five straight over the 'Cocks and the Classic City Canines' upcoming schedule could allow Stafford to grow into the role he is destined to assume . . . that of starting quarterback.
It will be good to get some starters back from suspension and I do not take U.A.B. lightly, but last night's win should give Georgia some breathing room and allow the Red and Black to start thinking seriously about having another solid, if not stellar, season.