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Friday, September 3, 2010

Scouting the (second) opponent

The Georgia football team can’t look ahead. But we can.

Thursday night I watched South Carolina’s football game on TV, rather than a press box seat, for the first time in four years, so thought I’d drop a few impressions this morning. (And don’t worry, this won’t turn into a Gamecock-centric blog. It just so happens that it’s the second game of the season, a very critical one for UGA, and I have a bit of insight on the subject.)

Overall, it was an impressive performance for South Carolina. I know, I know, it was Southern Miss. But two things:

1) Southern Miss is considered a favorite to win Conference USA. It wasn’t exactly a Division II school.

2) The Gamecock team I covered the past few years didn’t typically get resounding wins against these mid-major type teams. Two years ago they opened their season with a very unimpressive 28-14 win over … drum roll … Louisiana-Lafayette. They have struggled against Wofford. And in last year’s opener they won a 7-3 game at N.C. State that almost set back offensive football several decades.

Stephen Garcia, probably the key to the season, looked very good after deservedly getting the start. For awhile there it looked like Steve Spurrier couldn’t get out of his own way, but he ended up letting Garcia start and play the majority of the snaps.

The Gamecocks have some weapons. Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore looks like the genuine article, a great combination of size and speed. Receiver Alshon Jeffery is picking up where he left off near the end of last year, and is capable of making big catches anywhere on the field. And freshman receiver Ace Seemed went long seemingly every time he touched the ball.

On the other hand:

The defense looked vulnerable at times. Starting cornerback Chris Culliver was suspended for the game, and it was the team’s first game without Eric Norwood in four years. And there could be more suspensions next week.

The offensive line could still be a worry for the Gamecocks. Garcia, a fourth-year junior, did a great job staying in there when the pocket started to collapse, which it did a lot. You have to figure Georgia will get a bit more pressure, though where it comes from will be more of a mystery, thanks to the 3-4.

The Gamecocks did commit some silly penalties. It looks like the false starts haven’t gone away. They pretty much were flawless in the intangibles department on Thursday night: Turnovers, no major penalties. If and when those happen against Georgia, it’ll be interesting to see how they react.

So as good as the Gamecocks looked Thursday night, don’t crown them yet, as Dennis Green would say.


AthensHomerDawg said...

It was a good game overall for the Gamecocks. Any win a win. Their run blocking was suspect. Total yards gained is misleading as over a hundred came on two plays. The D line never really challenged USC and the Eagles line backing corps carried them. When the lbs blitzed USC blinked- a lot, all though Garcia made them pay for one ill advised blitz, which had an effect on their aggressiveness. Eagles wide receivers seemed content to just run routes and play pitch and catch contributing little else to the offense. Everyone expects a close game. It always is. However, USC is not rolling up forty some points on that Dawg D and the Bulldogs O line should wear down the Gamecock's D front. Norwood will be missed.

AuditDawg said...

Seth, if Southern Miss is a favorite to contend in Conference USA it's going to be a down year for that conference. Winning by 4 TD's obviously means you're doing something right, but Southern Miss was just atrocious on defense last night. I'll believe in Garcia and Carolina when I see them do it against a defense with a pulse (based on last couple of years that might not be us, either). The optimism is because Carolina finally did something it's been incapable of in the past and that's dominate an inferior opponent.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

yes, south cackalaky did what they should do in order to start getting more respect in the SEC, that is, dominate inferior teams.