Steve Spurrier makes his seventh trip to coach up a team in Sanford Stadium, having gone 3-3 in his previous six games on Saturday. Georgia came out a 16 point favorite, and the Munson in all of us got real scared. Just how scared should we be? Let's turn to James Shahid of Garnet and Black Attack for that answer.
1) With Connor Mitch going down, how much confidence is there in former walk-on and Publix employee Perry Orth? What type of QB is he and how will his involvement force Spurrier to change what he wanted to do offensively?
Not only did Orth work at a Columbia Publix as a walk-on to help pay for school, but two and half years ago, he he was also the Gamecocks 6th string QB. As former walk-on, Orth isn't a guy that wows anyone with his stature or athleticism, but he's gained favor among the HBC simply because of his knowledge of the the playbook and the game overall. We've seen Orth in both of USC's games this year and both appearances have left fans and coaches feeling alright. I don't think with him in their it limits the play calling too much. Of course he's not as mobile as Mitch, so the running will be left up to the backs and whoever is thrown in at the wildcat. But, what we've seen so far in Orth is a guy who makes the smart play and gets it to his playmaker when he needs to.
2) Wilds has been effective running the ball, but it seems no one is stepping up aside from Pharoh Cooper as a threat for the Gamecocks. Is there anyone other than #11 that Georgia's defense needs to fear?
Look for Shon Carson to get more carries. He's jumped over David Williams in the depth chart this week, a guy who fans thought was ready to break out, but who has struggled finding holes in the first two games. Carson, like Wilds, is a veteran back who is eager to get his name called. The Gamecocks have other skilled guys like Deebo Samuel at wideout, it's just been a matter of getting them ball these first two games.
3) The Gamecock defense came on strong in the second half against Kentucky, after a horrible end to the first half. What changed that helped them get more success? How have new faces on the DL improved that unit from last year?
Steve Spurrier isn't sure what changed for the Gamecocks defense in the second half. His defensive coaches just think the guys played better, and that they were in better position. The defense may have given too much attention to the Kentucky wideouts in the first-half when they should have been worried about the run. I think the Gamecocks knew Kentucky wasn't going to come out firing on offense in the second half with such a big lead, so they were able to really hone in on the run.
4) South Carolina struggled to stop the run against North Carolina and Kentucky, how big of a concern is that going into the game with Georgia's backs, and what has been the biggest reason for the problematic run D?
I think it's the biggest concern for the Gamecocks this weekend. South Carolina's defense needs to put together a complete game against Georgia, and come out ready to slow down the run from the first play. If they can limit Chubb and co. in the first half, I think it'll put some pressure on Richt and the QB's to throw the ball a little more in the second half. If UGA comes out and dominates on the ground in the first half, it'll be much more difficult for the Gamecocks offense to come from behind.
5) Should we expect any special teams tricks in this game, and is that an area that South Carolina feels it can exploit an advantage on Georgia as it has in the past?
It's Steve Spurrier as the underdog on the road, so yes, I'd be prepared for anything and everything in terms of unconventional plays. I think the punting game could potentially serve as a factor. The Gamecock's Sean Kelly has had some success pinning teams down near the end zone and Pharoh Cooper lines up as the punt returner. But it'll take more than trick plays and good special teams fortune to beat a top ten team on the road.
6) Following a loss to Kentucky, and a drop off last season combined with a summer of retirement speculation/negative recruiting, what is the mood of Gamecock fans about the current state of the program, and for the inevitable life A.B. (After Ballcoach)?
It's too early in the season to overreact on the state of the program. Had you asked immediately following the Kentucky game, my answer may be a little different, but the fact is, the way the Gamecocks play, every game comes down to two to three major plays, and that was no different last Saturday. Is South Carolina as talented as maybe three years ago? No. But I think that's more of the cycle of recruiting than it is the speculation of retirement. Spurrier's done everything he can to quiet the speculation of his retirement, but it's a question that's not going to go away until it's answered, so it's just something we all have to live with.
7) And lastly, game prediction?
I'll say UGA 28 - USC 17. Georgia's running game and the Gamecocks inability to stop it will be the deciding factor. The game will be close early, but the Bulldogs will find some separation in the second half. But honestly, who knows what will happen the way this game is typically played.
For my answers to his questions, click this link.