South Carolina had the unique result of playing in two of the most interesting games of the 2012 season. One of them, against the Florida Gators, we'll save for another day. The other however was an absolute decimation of one of - if not the - best offenses in the nation last season - the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gamecocks held Georgia scoreless for 58 minutes in Williams-Brice, before Richt and company tacked on a meaningless touchdown late to arrive at the final score of 35-7. It was an absolute asskicking by the Gamecock defense.
Make no mistake, Gamecock fans - the offense you see this weekend will be vastly superior to the one that got shellacked in Columbia last October. After adjusted for opponent difficulty, the Gamecocks played their best defensive game against the Bulldogs, and the Bulldogs played their worst offensive game against the Gamecocks. The odds are against us that we'll see that happen a second time in a row.
So what can we expect on Saturday? Looking at something I called Adjusted Offense and Adjusted Defense (which looks at yardage on a per play basis, with sack yardage counting against pass plays, and sacks counting as pass plays), we see that the Bulldogs moved the ball incredibly efficiently against Clemson the other evening, no matter how they chose:
|Georgia v. Clemson|
If you want to see just how well we played against Georgia defensively last season, here are those same numbers from our game in Columbia in 2012:
|Georgia v. USC|
Frankly, if you saw a game where the Tigers outplayed the Bulldogs, you watched a different game than I did - Clemson played well and earned the victory, but nothing about the offensive performance from Georgia gave me comfort for what's to come this weekend.
As noted elsewhere on the SBNation network, the Bulldogs lost because they missed a chip-shot FG opportunity and the Tigers got bailed out by a false start call. Of course, they could've done more defensively or offensively to turn the tide, but that's why it's a team game. For Carolina to be successful in Athens, they'll of course rely on their defense in large part, but that only takes them so far - against an elite offense like the one the Bulldogs will likely put on the field, containment will most likely be the name of the game. The Gamecock offense will need to do its part by finding success against a relatively mediocre Georgia defense to have a chance at grabbing the win.