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Previewing South Carolina at Georgia: Q & A with Bulldog in Exile

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 don't have a good grasp on the cause of Joe's trouble in Stillwater.  I am a big Joe Cox fan.  He has done and said all that you would hope a player in your program would while waiting his turn.  In that regard, he is DJ Shockley.  However, we also knew he wasn't DJ Shockley, talent wise.  In my mind, some of the blame has to be laid at the feet of Mike Bobo.  If I had a QB that I knew was sick, was in his first game as THE guy, and wasn't going to sling lasers all over the field, I would certainly be looking for plays that froze the defense and opened up play makers.  That didn't happen.

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.

2. Your running game with Richard Samuel looked good at times, especially on the first drive. However, it floundered a bit later in the game as you struggled to find balance. Will Georgia reestablish the run against a Carolina defense that gave up only 59 rushing yards to N. C. State? How will they do it? And what's the status on Caleb King? 

As to the first part: God, I hope so.  The lay consensus was that Bobo abandoned the run way too early and didn't utilize it to set up the passing game (no play actions, draws or misdirections were called all day against Oklahoma State).  Even if the RBs don't get more yards than the 100 or so they gained against Oklahoma State, if the running game is used to freeze coverage or at least make the defense think run, it will yield dividends for the Dawgs.  Samuel looked stellar at times against the Pokes.  He looked like me at the end of an open bar wedding reception at times.  If the offensive line plays up to its potential, I don't worry about the Dawgs getting the running game going.

Caleb King has a hamstring injury.  If he plays (which at this point is a likelihood), I don't expect to see him get more than 5 or so touches since he hasn't practiced at speed in a few weeks (warning to your readers:  this probably means he will be Hershel Walker like and get 31 touches and run for 189 yards, which I would, of course, take).
3. The Gamecocks defensive front--especially Eric Norwood and Cliff Matthews--was able to exert a lot of pressure on Russell Wilson last week, and Oklahoma State was at times able to penetrate what was supposed to be a stout Georgia offensive line. How will Georgia fare against the Carolina pass rush, especially with Trinton Sturdivant out?

The funny thing about Okie State's pressure is that I never felt like they got pressure on him, with the exception of the hit that yielded a fumble, which was due to a very nice move on the part of the lineman.  It was only after I watched the game on TV did I see what Coach Richt called incomplete blocks.  Cox had plenty of time, too much, at times.  I don't want to see him running for his life, but the passes that he threw on instinct were more likely to be on target.  Those he threw when he thought about it were tentative.  Not sure what that is, but if I could see it, then everyone can.  That being said, I do worry about what Matthews and Devin Taylor showed against NC State.

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.
4. How much do you hate Steve Spurrier and what are your favorite and least-favorite UGA-Spurrier moments?

Well, if you had asked me that question in 2000...

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.