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Friday, September 12, 2008

10 Questions: South Carolina Edition

Georgia plays its first road game and first conference game this week, so we should get a much better idea of just how good this team is Saturday afternoon. Before the Dawgs and Gamecocks kick off, here are 10 questions to consider before the big game.

1.) How good is the O line really?

The unit has done a nice job of pass protection and opened up plenty of holes for the running game during the first two games of the season, but even if you took the best 11 players from Georgia Southern and Central Michigan's defense combined, you wouldn't have half the defense South Carolina will throw at the Bulldogs this week.

Perhaps more concerning is the always-raucous Williams-Brice crowd. Communication is a key on the line, and it will be interesting to see how this group -- which has never worked together in a hostile environment -- will respond to Matthew Stafford's checks at the line of scrimmage and communicating without a cadence. The last thing Georgia needs against that stiff South Carolina D is false start penalties killing drives.

2.) Who's kicking off?

Mark Richt played it coy Thursday saying Jamey Lindley would be making the trip to Columbia. "So that's a good indication he's at least second string," Richt said. "Lindley may kick. Right now, all I can say is he s on the trip.

There's no saying Lindley is the answer, but Walsh has not looked good on kickoffs. Central Michigan had great field position throughout the game a week ago, and that had a lot to do with the 17 points it put on the board. South Carolina's offense is its major weakness, and Georgia must take advantage. Short kickoffs or poor special teams coverage would be a major favor for the Gamecocks.

3.) How will A.J. Green handle playing at home?

Georgia's first road game is actually a home contest for the star wide receiver, who hails from South Carolina. His entire high school plans to attend the game, Green said, along with dozens of other friends and family. Will this be a distraction for Green? Will he try to do too much? Richt says he hopes not, and everything about Green's cool and confident personality says the chaos of coming home won't bother him, but you never know for sure how a young kid will react in that environment. One other note, if Kenneth Harris isn't ready to go, Green will earn his second straight start.

4.) Can the secondary get a pick?

You just know it's eating Asher Allen and CJ Byrd up that Georgia's two interceptions were made by a linebacker and a defensive end. The DBs want back in the action desperately, and Georgia needs them to find their way in front of a few passes. The Bulldogs' turnover ratio is even so far, which belies the one-sided games they've played. It's a bit frustrating when the two early season opponents have been forced to throw the ball so much, and Georgia doesn't have much to show for it. South Carolina has a QB carousel going right now, however, and the Gamecocks have thrown six picks in two games. The Bulldogs need to make sure that trend continues.

5.) What will Dewberry do?

For the first two games of the year, Darius Dewberry swept floors at St. Mary's Hospital while his teammates were on the field. Luckily, they didn't miss him much, but against Steve Spurrier's offense, the Sam linebacker will play a much bigger role. It will be interesting to see how game-ready Dewberry is. Richt said during the week that coming back from longer suspensions can put players behind for a majority of the season. Dewberry may not have the luxury of waiting that long, as he'll play a key role on the defense this week.

6.) Will Knowshon add to his highlight reel?

Everyone was talking about "the leap" last week, but Moreno actually regrets doing it. Had he cut back to the left, he said, Stafford was ready to throw a block that could have sprung the running back for a touchdown.

Knowshon will be focused on the end zone against South Carolina this time around. A year ago, Moreno was the only bright spot on Georgia's offense -- averaging more than 7 yards per carry -- but he got just 14 touches in a 16-12 loss. Richt promises a lot more Moreno this time around, and the success of the running game will be the key to Georgia's offense.

7.) Can the Dawgs get more pressure?

Rod Battle may not play, which adds to the headaches for Georgia's pass pressure. The excessive cut blocking done last week by Central Michigan proved successful against Georgia's pass rush, but Demarcus Dobbs said the Bulldogs need to be more aggressive this time around. Kade Weston will be back on the field to add some pressure up the middle, but it's the ends -- Dobbs, Jeremy Lomax, Justin Houston and Jarius Wynn -- who need to take a step forward.

8.) Can Georgia cover the spread?

The Dawgs are favored by 7.5, yet five of the past seven meetings between these teams have been decided by six or less. Georgia's offense has had no problems moving the ball in the first two weeks -- topping 500 yards of offense in both games -- but South Carolina will be a far bigger test. It's certainly possible Georgia wins a 10-0 game, but if the Dawgs are to cover the spread, it probably means their offense managed to beat the physical Gamecocks D.

9.) How many times will Spurrier toss his visor?

Four years into his tenure at South Carolina, the critics are starting to get pretty loud. Spurrier's sideline antics are certainly nothing new, but the losing that goes with them is. The Gamecocks have now lost to Vanderbilt two years in a row, and it will be interesting to see how the team -- and the coach -- respond this week. Spurrier built his reputation on offense, but the Gamecocks have yet to reach 20 points against Georgia since he took over in Columbia. South Carolina's offense doesn't look like it's going to hit that mark this time around, and that's going to cause a lot of frustration for the Old Ball Coach.

10.) Who's No. 1?

With Ohio State and USC playing Saturday night, Georgia will have a much better idea of who it will be chasing the rest of the way. Two interesting points, however. 1.) Even the loser of that game can't be counted out. Remember what happened last year when the final nails weren't in teams' coffins until after the conference championship games were over. And 2.) if Ohio State wins in a close game, and Georgia blows out South Carolina, it may be enough to push the Dawgs -- who have a nearly 200-point lead over the Buckeyes in the polls -- back to the top spot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

knowshon got the cover of espn, his hurdle is pictured in the new mag, the first week of college football live they talked about Georgia nonstop. The reason espn is laying off uga right now is all everyone talked about preseason was the dawgs "brutal" schedule and they've played two cupcakes so far. They're gonna have 3 games of the week (asu bama Florida) so the hype will be there. People need to stop validating the dawgs through ESPN.