Although it has been a busy day, there is surprisingly little to report. My efforts to identify five teams that will be as good as or better than advertised (to go along with my five teams that will not be as good as advertised) have been stymied by the need to find that elusive sixth team, former Georgia tennis player John Isner’s epic day at Wimbledon was suspended due to darkness and remains unconcluded, and, however pleased some folks might be that the U.S. soccer team kicked the game-winning goal in the 91st minute of what appeared destined to be a scoreless draw, the following facts remain facts:
- As my brother-in-law noted earlier today, soccer has been the next big thing in America longer than Dippin’ Dots has been the ice cream of the future.
Fortunately, Team Speed Kills has offered grist for the mill. I previously provided Bulldog Nation with three reasons why fans of the Georgia Bulldogs should be worried about the Tennessee Volunteers in 2010, so, now that SB Nation’s SEC-centric weblog has given us three things we do and don’t know about the South Carolina Gamecocks, I am here to provide you with . . .
1. The Palmetto State Poultry are more experienced at quarterback than the Classic City Canines. Both squads return the overwhelming majority of their offensive starters, and I wouldn’t trade Aaron Murray straight up either to get Joe Cox back or to get Stephen Garcia on our team, but the South Carolina junior brings a wealth of experience to bear, whereas Murray will be making his first career start (i) in conference play, (ii) on the road, and (iii) against BCS-conference competition. Garcia has started a game in Sanford Stadium, in which he completed 31 of his 53 passes for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns while leading his team to a 37-point outburst in a series recently defined by low-scoring slugfests. That gives Garcia---and, hence, the Gamecocks---an unmistakable edge at the most important position on the field. That might not be true if we compared the two quarterbacks in November, but it certainly will be the case in September.
2. The game is in Columbia. I attended the Georgia-South Carolina tilts in Williams-Brice Stadium in 1996 and in 2000; both games produced Bulldog losses. I have not been back since, nor will I ever return there for a football game. An already solid Gamecock defense becomes even more stout when playing at home against the Red and Black. Since South Carolina joined the SEC, most of the series meetings between these border rivals have been defensive struggles, but Georgia has managed to post a few hefty point totals along the way, scoring 42 points in 1995, 31 in 1997, 31 in 2003, and 41 in 2009 . . . all in Athens. In Columbia, by contrast, the Bulldogs have not scored more than 20 points since 1994, and the Red and Black’s tally has declined from 20 in 2004 to 18 in 2006 to 14 in 2008. With a new signal caller at the controls, what reason is there to believe Georgia’s numbers are going anywhere but down?
3. South Carolina has the better defense. Once again, I’m not offering commentary on relative levels of talent, arguing which team has the better coordinator, or saying which team will field the better defense in November. Georgia may have the edge in some or all of those categories, but, by the second Saturday in September, we will be 60 minutes into the Todd Grantham reclamation project, while the Garnet and Black are solid on the defensive line, solid in the secondary, and entering their second year under defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward and their third year under assistant head coach Ellis Johnson, "the assistant coach in charge of the defense." In addition to having by far the more experienced quarterback, the Palmetto State Poultry field a defense that is more familiar with the scheme the unit is running. Given that confluence of circumstances, how could fortune favor the Athenians over the South Carolinians?
In short, Gamecock Man foresees a South Carolina win over Georgia, vineyarddawg foresees a South Carolina win over Georgia, and I foresee a South Carolina win over Georgia. While I doubt seriously that the window of opportunity has opened wide enough to allow Steve Spurrier to lead this team to an Eastern Division championship, it wouldn’t even be an upset for the Gamecocks to beat the Bulldogs this year.
That, at least, is how I see it, but you should feel free to offer your opinions in the comments below.