Those of you that hang out around these parts probably know AuditDawg, our fine furry friend. Audit runs the UGA blog Hobnail Boot, and he was gracious enough to participate in a blogger tete-a-tete to talk about this weekend's game. His responses to my questions are below; I'll notify you when he publishes my responses to his.
1. We all know that it's difficult to judge a performance against a team like ULL, but tell us about what you took away from the game. Aaron Murray and the defense's stat lines look solid--what did you see that's indicative of success and / or problems down the road against USC and the rest of your SEC slate?
Similar to South Carolina, the fact that we handled an overmatched team was encouraging after some of the results from the last few years. I believe we gave up 300 yards of rushing to GA Southern the 2008 season opener so it was nice to see the defense handle a team that should be handled. Murray showed off a stronger arm than I realized he had and his ability to move the pocket and escape from trouble was encouraging. On the other hand, he definitely made some of the usual freshman mistakes (locking onto receivers, not throwing the ball away, sliding head first) that will get him absolutely obliterated in Columbia next week. There is no doubt in my mind now that Murray has the talent to win in the SEC, the question is whether he'll have the decision making skills to do it.
2. USC's talented wide receivers had a lot of success against an overmatched USM secondary. They made some nice catches and could have had more if Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw had been slightly more accurate. What will UGA's approach to limiting the effectiveness of USC's physically imposing receivers?
The first step in the approach must be to rid the secondary and LB's of the Willie Martinez/John Jancek method of coverage where DB's didn't believe in being within 10 yards of opposing receivers and TE's were free to roam over the middle. I think the UGA secondary matches up a lot better with the USC receivers just because there's not really a talent gap between the two units as obvious as between USC and USM. I expect the defense to press the receivers at the line and be very physical with them. I also assume that Grantham is going to try to take away Alshon Jeffrey with a lot of double coverage over the top of him. The matchup between the USC receivers and the UGA DBs is the one I'm looking forward to the most on Saturday.
3. If you could have one player off of USC's roster, who would it be? And why?
This is a tough question because there are a lot of similar players up and down both rosters. In all seriousness though, I think the player I'd like most to have from USC's roster has to be Alshon Jeffrey. This kid is just a stud and a big time playmaker at the receiver position. It doesn't hurt that he's currently eligible, either...
4. What's your favorite memory from the USC-UGA series?
I've been attending UGA/USC games since 2000 when I was a sophomore in high school. The only game I've missed since then was 2008 and that was due to work obligations. To me, this is one of my favorite games to attend every year so I've got a lot of memories both good and bad from this series. Probably my most memorable moment had to be in 2002. It was just a miserable rainy day in Columbia. I believe the game was delayed due to lightning several times. Overall the game was very sluggish and didn't have many highlights. I'll never forget the David Pollack strip/INT/TD in the end zone. Still one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen in person (Knowshon's leap against Central Michigan is either 1st or 2nd on that list). Most people count the win at Alabama when Pat Dye said Georgia wasn't man enough as the launching pad for the 2002 SEC Championship, but I believe that USC game and particularly the Pollack play was the moment when I realized that we might have a pretty special team that year.
5. Although most USC fans consider UGA our second-biggest rival, some UGA fans don't seem to consider USC a rival at all. While that seems reasonable considering the disparity in success enjoyed by the two schools and because UGA has several other schools it considers rivals, I find the tendency of UGA fans to dismiss USC a little odd considering how much attention UGA fans seem to pay to us. What do you think about this series--is it a rivalry to you?
This was the question I had to think about the longest when posed to me. From my lurking and posting at Garnet and Black Attack, I realize that UGA fans' dismissive attitude towards the USC program is a point of contention for yourself and your readers from time to time. And considering that the two schools are a lot closer to each other in reality than say UGA and Florida, from the outside looking in that does seem a bit odd. To me the general dismissiveness of USC boils down to one thing and that's the W-L record. Just like Florida fans born after 1980 believe the UGA game is their birthright to win and are dismissive of UGA, most of our fans feel the same way about South Carolina because the overall record is so one-sided. As I stated before, just as is the case with our program and Florida's, the only way the perception is going to change is for the underdogs in these two series to start winning more frequently. Until then, due to the fact that there are four or five schools that UGA could legitimately consider a serious rival and the overall record between UGA and USC; UGA fans will continue to be dismissive of USC for better or worse. However, I'm a unique case as I was born and raised in Augusta before matriculating to Athens so I always have viewed USC as one of our biggest rivals.
Many thanks to AuditDawg for taking part in this conversation.