It's a beautiful morning, Gamecocks fans--South Carolina whipped the Georgia Bulldogs in what has to be considered one of our biggest victories in quite some time. Recall that, other than beating a down Tennessee team in 2008, we haven't beaten one of the Big Three since beating Georgia in 2007. While it's a little premature to begin thinking of championships, it's certainly fair to say that these are the kinds of victories a march to Atlanta are made off of.
The big-picture stuff right now is pretty simple--we won this game because of how well Marcus Lattimore played and because we came up with big stops when Georgia went into the red zone. First, Lattimore. I remember that a lot of people weren't so impressed with his performance after USM, particularly when they saw the numbers. That should be over now--Lattimore looked every bit like an All-SEC-type tailback yesterday, ringing up huge numbers, ripping off big runs at the best possible times, and generally making Georgia's defense look weak as he dragged linemen with him past the first-down marker. Two, Georgia's red zone woes. Not to take anything away from our performance, the Dawgs shot themselves in the foot a couple of times offensively. There was Ealey's fumble, which reminded me a lot of any of the number of ways we've managed to screw up a victory in this series. There were also a couple of drops and slightly poorly thrown balls that hurt them on other drives. If Georgia could have capitalized on one of those chances, this could have been a different game. But they didn't--they hurt themselves, and we made some key plays to avoid breaking. That's what good teams have to do sometimes.
Continue past the jump for more analysis.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- Stephen Garcia is going to get some heat for his performance in the second half, and some of it is deserved. He took a couple of sacks that were avoidable, and the fumble was inexcusable--you don't expose the ball like that while the pocket is collapsing around you. On the other hand, though, I saw him do some positive things. First of all, he should have had two TD throws on the day--both the balls to Brian Maddox and Jason Barnes should have been caught. He also threw a very nice pass to Alshon Jeffery shortly before the fumble. Perhaps most importantly, I didn't see anything that even remotely look like it should have been intercepted--that's progress. All in all, though, I agree with what Feathered Warrior said in one of the comments sections--Garcia is, at this point at least, only a QB that isn't going to do too much to hurt us. He's not one that's going to win the tough games for us. That's better than having Chris Smelley around, but it's not exactly great.
- If you had told me that Aaron Murray would look great while Georgia's defense would buckle, I would have told you you were crazy. But that's what happened. Murray looks like a stud, and Mark Richt has to be slapping himself for not letting him loose a bit.
- I thought our offensive line played a bit better. They're still not great, but they looked good in run blocking and, while they let Garcia get clobbered a bit in the second half, that was to be expected from an aggressive defense like the one Grantham is running. All in all, I think we're maybe beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel on the o-line.
- Color me unimpressed with Barnes. Now I see why Spurrier and company were so bullish on D.L. Moore coming into the season--Moore is the better receiver.
- The defense was pretty solid. They bent at certain times, but anytime you only give up 250 yards and six points to a team like UGA, you did something right. We played well in the trenches, particularly against the run. What I wasn't so happy with was that the 7-10 yard passing game seemed like it was there all day for UGA (and, luckily for us, they didn't take advantage of it enough), and that's a little worrisome considering that we supposedly have the best secondary in the SEC. I would also like to see us get more pressure on the QB. Again, though, hard to complain too much on this count--the results were positive.
- Other than the penalty that negated Chris Culliver's return, we did a great job on special teams. I was worried that UGA's returners would be able to turn this game on its head at some point, but that never materialized. That's a big, positive change from what was going on last year around this time.
That's a wrap on this one. Great win, guys. Let's get some prep against Furman and see if we can handle going on the road to Auburn.