Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:
1. UGA Running Game. We’re going to be back to almost full-strength, and it seems Chaney and Pittman have finally figured out how to use their man scheme to complement the Line they inherited. Not to mention we can bring a ton of horses with different looks, different skillsets, and plenty of energy.
UGA’s rushing offense only ranks #50 in FBS, with 4.42 yds/rush and 193.6 yds/game, but SCAR’s rushing defense is allowing more yards per rush (4.83) and more yards per game (202). We should be one of the most formidable rushing teams they’ve faced, especially with the Manimal in the backfield.
2. Wet weather offense. UGA experienced a soaker of a game last year in Athens against Alabama, but if we play in the wet I expect a different result. 1) See running game above, and the adage is that wet weather favors the running game. 2) I think Eason has better grip and can handle a wet ball better than Lambert, 3) they’ve been practicing with wet balls, and 4) there’s no danger of Brice Ramsey coming in to airmail a slant route into a pick-six.
3. Getting run out of town circa vintage Spurrier. UGA’s defense has given up 10 TDs the last two games, which moved us down to #89 nationally. But only 20 TDs for the season including against UNC (#27 national scoring offense). The SCAR offense under our buddy Bryan McClendon and Kurt Roper should get better, as both coaches served in record setting offenses at previous schools (McClendon obviously at UGA and Roper at Duke). South Carolina just does not have the QB or the offensive firepower to burn up the scoreboard. Their defense is still pretty sound, but Spurrier left the cupboard bare in terms of a high-value signal caller like Mitch, backs like Lattimore, and receivers like Jeffries. They have talent, but not that much talent.
Here are the (first) three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1. The weather. First, we’re all concerned about safety of residents and visitors alike. Visitors can leave once the roads are passable. Residents in the low country and in low-lying places do not have this luxury. Our thoughts are with all of those in the storm’s path.
We now know the game is to be played in Columbia Sunday at 2:30 pm. It is supposed to be sunny and high 70s, but that is yet to be determined and we won’t know until very late Saturday what to expect. And though I’m not worried about our capabilities (see wet weather offense above), you never know if conditions are so that it comes down to fickle bounces of a prolate spheroid.
2. Which South Carolina quarterback to prepare for. True freshman Brandon McIlwain has gotten the majority of snaps and starts under center, but senior Perry Orth came in relief last week and got the SC fans excited.
The highly touted and athletic McIlwain has more running game, and is 2nd in rushing attempts on the team, yet is only averaging 20 yards per game. But his passing hasn’t threatened anyone so far as he’s only completed 567 yards on the season in 106 attempts. Orth is more accomplished as a passer, but has only appeared in 3 games and has subbed in for McIlwain.
These stats aren’t Ole Miss scary, nor even Mizzou scary. What worries me: Muschamp is mum on the starter, and has stated that both will see the field, and there is support in platooning the two. So we now have to prepare for RPOs, draws, QB contain, as well as continue to work on a pass rush and schematic coverage. We have a hard enough time against a known quantity, so I don’t want to think about a young defense making last second adjustments on a substitution.
3. Will Muschamp. His head coaching record against UGA is stellar (if you’re a Bulldog fan). But he did win his last game as a head coach against his alma mater, and is being received fairly well in the Palmetto State thus far. Say what you will, but the guy does know defenses, and he’s seen enough of UGA to know how to gameplan. He’s improved the South Carolina defense over 30 yards per game over last season. He gets two top wide-outs back from injury, and a freshman sensation at tailback will be in the rotation. The team and fans will have a certain amount of espirit de corps as they literally weather the hurricane’s effects, and Williams Brice will be rocking with rooster crows and some other formerly popular sound effects. Not to mention the residual hangover of Tennessee looming over the Georgia bench if this gets tight.
We’ve faced very prolific offenses in Ole Miss, UNC, and Missouri. We’ve faced upper classmen-laden teams in Ole Miss, UNC, and Tennessee. And other than 1 game + 1 play, Georgia has fared well. But I believe that Muschamp will somehow manage to have South Carolina playing their best come Sunday afternoon, and that worries me.
What are the things that worry you about USC**? Put them in the comments below, and as always…
**I was born and raised in Georgia. South Carolina – you’ll always be USC to me. Unless I get threatening letters by Southern Cal’s legal team, in which case all bets are off.