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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.


BullyMack said...

No Seth, if you to crown em', crown their ass! HA! Great reference. I have to say I was impressed for the most part. USCe has some skill players out wide, in the backfield and in the secondary. Outside of Matthews in the trenches, I'm not so sure. Like you said, I think they looked fairly crisp and took Southern Miss out of their game early. Hell, last night Jesse "the Bachelor" Palmer and Craig "Douchebag" James were ready for Garcia and Lattimore to split the Heisman. God I hope they don't do any of our games, I'll take Uncle Verne over those two any day.

Rich said...

That running back could give us some problems and they do seem to have stepped it up a notch with their receivers...I am a little worried but with TG and company heading up the D I think we should be OK. Not like last year!

Anonymous said...

I saw the SCar receivers with a lot of pushoffs to get open, so hopefully CMR notices that and warns the officials to be on the lookout. They also used a lot of underneath routes which have killed us in the past, so it will be interesting to see Grantham's plan for defense of those.

Anonymous said...

Carolina was definitely impressive last night and I think they without a doubt should be ranked.

Am I worried? NO Its the SEC. You're going to face talent and great coaching EVERY week. I think we have a chance to be a bit better than SC primarily because of our OL. I'm even more ready to get to Columbia and see where we stand.