Are we gonna win?
We certainly could.
Not overly confident, eh?
Projecting confidence and promising wins are not one in the same, pal. We should be confident. After all, we made relatively short work of North Carolina week one without necessarily showing out. We've got the kind of defense line that a team needs to neutralize the interior run game and limit Aaron Murray's time in the pocket. Our linebackers showed an ability to get to the edge, and our secondary didn't give up any long balls. (Granted, UNC's MO didn't really entail throwing downfield.)
So why the trepidation? All those things make it seem like this game should be a cakewalk. After all, isn't Georgia pretty much the worst team ever since they lost to [insert sophomoric Clemson pejorative]?
While that loss wasn't pretty (no loss is!), the takeaway wasn't that Georgia is an abject disaster of a team. Our own ChickenHoops writes that Georgia was incredibly efficient on offense, gaining nearly 8 yards per play. They just hiccuped a few times inside the 25, failing to score twice in that situation. One would be hard pressed to imagine our defense won't hold up better than Clemson's, but remember, this is a road game and Georgia's first home game. Will those factors offset the advantage?
I feel a bit less bold now. Let me ask you this: can you make me feel worse?
Yes! Starting center Cody Waldrop is doubtful to play this week due to a foot sprain sustained in the UNC game. Next in line is fellow-albeit-far-less-hyped RS freshman Clayton Stadnik. It'll be a loud and angry Sanford Stadium when South Carolina has possession, so whoever starts at center can't get rattled. Oh and Georgia plays a 3-4, meaning the center will square off against a nose tackle all night. What fun!
Assuming the ball ever gets to Connor Shaw, how do we think he'll play?
Chickenhoops points out that Shaw's road numbers haven't been good, but he truly bottomed out against elite defenses. If its first game is any indication, Georgia's defense is not elite. As SB Nation's Nam Le suggests, the best case for Shaw will be limiting his own mistakes (which he usually does) and spreading the ball to multiple targets. Busta Anderson and Bruce Ellington are full go this week, giving back Shaw a couple of his favorite targets who saw no or limited time against UNC. Finally, Clemson's offensive line did a good job of protecting Tajh Boyd, so it's imperative our big uglies do the same lest Connor get scramble happy. The fact that Georgia's secondary is relatively young could limit coverage sacks, but protection had better bet there because we don't need any doubt creeping into Connor's mind. The last thing we need him to do is take off as soon as he looks off his first option. But, thankfully, we've also got our run game on which to rely. Here's a breakdown of a couple of zone read looks that worked against UNC.
Even if UGA's defense isn't stellar, Sanford's a pretty tough place to play, right?
Sure, but the Gamecocks have actually split the series in Athens since 2000. In 2007, Blake Mitchell threw for 174 yards and no touchdowns in a win over a Bulldogs team that went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl.
Hey I gave you a hard time last week about that digital simulation thing, and it turned out to be pretty close to the real game. I presume you did one this week and that it will offer a similarly plausible result?
Um. I did the simulation, and Georgia won but also a bunch of weird stuff happened that would never happen in real life.
That's what I get for trusting you. Let's get back to real life, then. How's the UGA camp feel about this one?
Outwardly, not great, although I imagine most still expect a win despite their predictions. Friend of the blog Mr Sanchez went on the record with us, offering up some information regarding Georgia personnel issues (Mitchell out for the year, kicker/tipsy seaman Marshall Morgan suspended, a few secondary players returning) and opining, as most have, that USC could dominate line play which could spell trouble for the Dawgs.
Last week you gave me three keys to the game and a prediction. This week I want three keys, a prediction, and five things.
Very good. Before I start reading those, I'm hungry. [looks in fridge] Let's see, I've got these brats, some beer, a sack of potatoes. Any suggestions?
Lucky for you, Gamecock Man outlined a beer brat/potato salad recipe that looks delicious. You should probably think about working some vegetables into your diet, though.
Don't tell me what to eat. Speaking of questionable health habits, I take it Clowney didn't travel with the team due to his lackluster performance against UNC and is currently crying into a pint of Cherry Garcia.
Clowney will in fact be in Athens, and don't let all that talk about conditioning rub you the wrong way. In fact, watch this video on mute and you'll see a player who was consistently a factor. I'm not worried about Jadeveon, and according to SB Nation writer Patrick Vint, you shouldn't really be either. With the way Georgia's line played last week, look for Doo Doo to harass Murray plenty this afternoon.
Is Vic Hampton going to explode this week?
Hopefully not, since he's been at least temporarily relieved of return duties in favor of Bruce Ellington. This might be more of a rehabilitative measure as opposed to a punishment—after all the handful of licks he took last week, he needs to be removed from any scenarios wherein he may stand to have his clock cleaned so he's able to fully function in his primary role at cornerback. However, Vic won't even start on defense since he missed all but one practice this week. He should play plenty, but Ahmad Christian will get the call.
Aren't there like 92 players on the South Carolina roster from Georgia?
Close; 27. And, yes, it's been plugged all week as a motivating factor. Mike Davis seems to be the poster child for it, and why not? He's been vocal about how excited he is to go against his home state's most celebrated team. Remember, Davis was committed to Florida before he signed with USC, so he was going to have this one circled no matter what.
I'm driving to Athens as we speak—got a podcast I can stream to kill some time?
First of all, typing and driving will get you a one way ticket to the ICU, fella. But yes, go here, and listen to Connor, Gamecock Man, and Chickenhoops preview the game.
Don't worry, my I'm dictating my questions to my grandma.
Oh, good. Well, have a nice time.
Thank you. One last thing. Can you just post the video of Clowney sacking Murray for a fumble from 2011?