Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:
1) Third Quarter Defense. I don’t have yardage stats, but I do see the Junkyard Dawgs have given up a total of 3 points in the 3rd quarter this season – a lone field goal in South Bend week 2. It’s been said many times, many ways, but Mel Tucker and Kirby Smart seem to always make adjustments during halftime.
2) Deebo Samuel. Only because he’s out for the season. But believe me when I say he was worth the price of admission, and substantiated a lot of stomach ulcers for opposing coaches. The USC wide receiver was injured in their 3rd game, but had already accounted for 6 touchdowns (1 rush, 2 kickoff returns, and 3 receiving). He still has the teams 4th most receiving yards on the season, and the vast majority of their kickoff return yardage. He’s still #2 on the team for all purpose yardage, and hasn’t played the last 5 games! Ain’t nobody got mind control over Deebo. Get well, young man, and go make some money in the NFL.
3) Turn Down for What? SCAR is ranked 103rd in the country in 3rd down defense, which is 11th in the SEC. Georgia’s 3rd down offense is actually 5th in the nation and 1st in the conference. We should be able to keep drives alive this game and be able to control clock, as per usual. Rewind, push play.
Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1) Execution. South Carolina, statistically, seems to be a very well-coached team. They rank top 10 in fewest penalties and fewest fumbles lost, and have only thrown 4 picks. Georgia has benefitted from opponent’s penalties and turnovers all season, and while our defense is extremely good at applying pressure leading to opponent’s miscues, on the surface it doesn’t seem like USCe will be as susceptible. We’ll need to be on point and sharp… USC won’t help us much in this area.
2) Jake Bentley. The sophomore signal caller for Muschamp’s Gamecocks is living up to the billing. I said above he’s only thrown 4 interceptions, and he’s completing over 61% of his passes. Bentley has slung it over 250 yards three times this season, and threw for 3 touchdowns against a stout NC State defense and again against Arkansas.
He’s not a dual-threat, but he’s sneaky with his legs (sound familiar?). Matter of fact he scampered for a 20 yard touchdown last week versus Vanderbilt. We’ll have to watch this if they get near the red zone. It’s not worth a spy, and I’d rather have additional pressure with the rest of the DBs in coverage and force him to make bad throws.
3) Hungry, Hungry Chickens. These guys are bowl-eligible. Though they lost to UK early in the season and a close one at home versus Texas A&M, they have conference wins versus Missouri, Tennessee (who hasn’t?), Vanderbilt, and smoked Arkansas. Their remaining conference games are us and next week when the fightin’ Randy Shannons come to Columbia. South Carolina has probably achieved all they wanted to at this point in the season and I think they’re now confident. They have a 3 game winning streak (all SEC games) and this would be a real cake-topper for them. With a probable win against Wofford and a probable loss against Clemson still remaining on their schedule, this would be a signature program, conference, and higher-echelon bowl game victory (we won’t discuss what a UGA loss would do to us).
Georgia has come out hot in the opening quarter the last couple of games, and I think that would go a long way to preventing the kind of “any given Saturday” chaos scenario Coach Boom could be hoping for. And our boys will be constantly reminded of the College Football Playoff top ranking. Will Kirby Smart control the message and have his boys in the right mindset come Saturday afternoon in Athens? We’ll have to find out, but at least we won’t have to hear “Sandstorm”.
And as always…