I got together with the fine Georgia blogger Bulldog in Exile to preview this weekend's game. Please check out my answers to his questions here.
1. All eyes will be on Joe Cox this weekend after an underwhelming performance last week in Stillwater. How much was Cox affected by his illness? Will he bounce back against Carolina? When will Mark Richt play Aaron Murray or Logan Grey if Cox continues to struggle?
I think Joe will have a better game against South Carolina. USC's defensive backfield looked good, but no one will mistake AJ Green or Michael Moore for Jarvis Williams. It'll be interesting to see if the younger receivers get in the game. I am trying to say Joe's problems weren't all on him. A little better game planning, a little better catching and a little better blocking will help make his go from underwhelming to a serviceable QB, which is all anyone will ask from him.
I was surprised to see Logan in only once, although you could say using Branden Smith in the Wild Dawg (or whatever) is a distinction without a difference. I hope we don't see Murray or Mettenberger at all. If that happens, it'll mean the coaches have made the decision that Joe cannot get it done. Absent injury, I don't see that happening unless Cox really does worse than he did last week.
The loss of Trinton is big, but he is replaced by a senior (Vince Vance) with plenty of game experience. Plus, we've been here before. In a lot of ways, the adversity will only help Coach Searels use the us vs. the world argument to his advantage. You don't want to give Coach Searels any more tools than he already has.
Seriously, I think Steve Spurrier has been one of those coaches that changed the game, especially the way it was played in the SEC. Now, on a scale between my ex-wife's lawyer on one end and the guy that is in the left lane going 1mph faster than the traffic in the right lane on the other, he is much closer to the guy in the right lane. Yeah, he's annoying, but after he's been passed, I don't think about him much. He's lost a lot of his bite. Particularly disappointing were his apologies over Tebowgate. Old Steve Spurrier would have waxed eloquent about Jevan Snead and mentioned that Tebow is a great player, but Jarred Lorenzen was a better pure quarterback pound for pound.
As for my least favorite moments, I would have to say all five Georgia-Florida games that I saw with him coaching Florida to wins are ties. In that regard, I will have to say ever time I hear a Florida fan say 16 of 19 is pretty high on my least favorite moments.
5. What's going to happen in this game? Who will win and how will it go down?
It'll be a typical Georgia-South Carolina game, with both teams squandering chances and one team needing a defensive stand near the end to win. While Joe Cox isn't Matt Stafford, he isn't Quincy Carter either, so I have to believe it will come down to the team that does better in converting chances. Given a 35 yard field with Georgia's defense against a Steven Garcia led offense vs. a 35 yard field with South Carolina's defense against a Joe Cox led offense, I just like Georgia's chances better. 24-20 won't surprise me any more than 12-10.
A hearty thanks to Bulldog in Exile for participating.