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Previewing South Carolina at Georgia: Three Keys, Fun Fact, and Prediction

Time to open our SEC season in Athens. The game is shaping up to be another defensive nail-biter between USC and UGA, so hold on tight; we're probably going to add a few gray hairs before the end of the evening.

Three Keys for a Gamecocks Victory

1. Our Pass Rush

This game often comes down to a couple of key turnovers, and with both offenses struggling, that will likely be the case again tomorrow night. Georgia has usually been the team to benefit from wacky plays in this series, from Mike Davis's goal-line fumble last year back to David Pollack's, ahem, unique pick-six back in 2002. This year, though, South Carolina boasts what could very well be one of the country's best pass rushes, and that could equate to some huge plays for us if we can force a fumble or two or get Joe Cox throwing into traffic while on the run. On the other hand, if we give Cox too much time, he'll likely be able to move the ball down the field efficiently, even if he doesn't quite have the arm to go vertical like his predecessor Matthew Stafford used to.

2. Stephen Garcia

Because Georgia has a strong rushing defense, it's going to be incumbent upon Stephen Garcia to lead this offense tomorrow. Moreover, Steve Spurrier has vowed that he won't be as conservative tomorrow as he was last week. That means that Garcia will really need to step up tomorrow night and show us what he's learned over the summer. First of all, he's gotta protect this ball, as I think the team that wins the turnover battle will win this game. Second of all, he's gotta figure out some way to spark this offense, at least to the level of getting 17-24 points on the board for us, which should be enough to win unless Georgia scores easy points off turnovers. That means making good reads, throws, and scrambles. And for goodness's sake, Stephen, slide if you see Rennie Curran barrelling down on you when you're scrambling!

3. Spencer Lanning

Spencer Lanning missed his first ever field goal attempt last week, prompting most of us to fear that we're going to really miss Ryan Succop this year. However, Lanning has reportedly played well in practice, suggesting that the miss last week may have just been jitters, especially considering that botched snap on his earlier attempt may have been in his head. However, kicking is a mental as much as a physical game, and Athens on a Saturday night isn't a great place for a kicker to get his head screwed on straight. Lanning will have to work through it, though, as his leg may be the difference maker in what will likely be a tight game.

Continue reading after the jump.

Fun Fact

Georgia put up 257 yards of total offense last week, while we put up 256. That means that Georgia is 103rd in the country in total offense to our 105th. If those numbers don't spell defensive slogfest, I don't know what does.


The script for this game usually includes a low score, a few wacky plays, and a Georgia victory. There's little reason to believe this game won't follow script, as both teams have good defenses, poor offenses, Georgia has probably just a bit more talent, and the game is in Ath...aww, hell. Saying this is probably against my better judgment, but I think we're going to win this game. Our players sound confident, Georgia is in a tailspin, and weird rumblings have been coming out of Athens all week. If Garcia and our offense can play like they did last week sans the interceptoin and plus converting in the red zone and making field goals, we should be able to escape with a win. Is it too difficult to believe that we can do those things tonight? I don't think so. I'm calling 20-13 South Carolina. Let's fence the 'Dawgs!