1) Mike Davis: When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Davis and fellow tailback Cory Boyd gave the Bulldogs fits last year in Athens, chewing up yards and preventing our sluggish offense from getting the ball back until it was just too late. Make no mistake, Steve Spurrier likes to throw the ball around, but he's not averse to running it if that's what gets the job done. Look for him to try to get the ball to Davis whenever possible, including on screens..
And a special bonus prediction: Yes, Spurrier will get Stephen Garcia in during the first half as well. He shouldn't of course,because a redshirt freshman seeing his first game action against the #2 team in the country is just not ideal. But if you're the South Carolina coaches, you have to figure he can't be any worse than the gimpy shouldered interception dispenser disguised as Tommy Beecher. And he's at least mobile enough to duck. That might come in handy in the event that a vertically challenged linebacker who's #35 in your programs and #1 in your hearts discovers that South Carolina's offensive line is a lot like Hawaii's, minus the dancing and the faint aroma of smoked pork and pineapples.
2) Matt Stafford dropping the Bomb: It's one thing to make your opponent beat you, but another altogether to simply let your opponent beat you. Steve Spurrier does not want to let Knowshon Moreno beat him. That's just sound strategy. Right now Knowshon is our most dangerous weapon, and South Carolina will commit whatever defensive resources are required to contain him.
This will include frequent run blitzing, and linebackers staying in the box. We'll counter that run blitzing with frequent Matt Stafford hard counts to determine who's coming. But equally significant will be the fact that committing a safety or two linebackers to stopping the run means somebody will be getting man coverage with little help. If Matt Stafford consistently finds the one on one coverage, it will be a big night. Look for MoMass, A.J. Green and Kris Durham to get several chances down the field.
3) Jasper Brinkley walking on grasping at air: I just had to chuckle this summer when I saw South Carolina message board denizens breathlessly reporting that Jasper Brinkley is up to 270 pounds and it's all solid muscle. Bulldog fans recognize this particular illness as BrandonMilleritis. It's characterized by the mistaken belief that 270 pound linebackers are capable of chasing around elusive tailbacks. This belief is false. For me, the antidote was probably either Kenny Irons or Monterio Hardesty. For Gamecock partisans it will be Knowshon Moreno.
4) A wild start. I agree 100% with Paul Westerdawg that the key to this one will be the first few minutes. While Gamecock fans are notoriously optimistic, and get up for our occasional visits to Mark Richt Field at Williams-Brice Stadium, they also deflate like a helium balloon on occasion. This was true even before their current epic fail losing streak (1-5 in their last 6, for those of you scoring at home). My sense from talking to Gamecock fans is that they won't really be expecting much from this one, unless we give them a reason to hope. But if we do, it's on. A busted coverage here, a missed tackle there, and we could be in for a fight.
5) UGA 31, South Carolina 13. Ryan Succop will be the Gamecocks' leading scorer with 7 total points. The UGA scoring will break down like this: a) 3 offensive touchdowns resulting from long drives, 2 through the air and 1 on the ground, b) either a defensive touchdown off a Gamecock turnover, or a TD drive of less than 30 yards which results from a Gamecock turnover, and c) a Blair Walsh field goal concluding a stalled drive. South Carolina will get in the endzone at least once, but I imagine their offense will start and stall too much for them to win this one, or even make it particularly close. We won by 18 in our last trip to Columbia. Saturday will be deja vu all over again. Dawgs by 18. Until later . . .