Want to know what the enemy is thinking on the eve of South Carolina's annual clash with the Georgia Bulldogs? Then look no further, gentle reader, than this Q&A with Dawg Sports's MaconDawg. My questions are in bold.
1. We all know about Todd Gurley, but which of UGA's backs should get most of the carries that don't go to Gurley, in your opinion? Why?
I don't think there is a single back who is really a clear #2 at this point. I think the back who will get the most work behind Gurley (assuming he's healthy) is fellow junior Keith Marshall. I just think Coaches Richt and McClendon will go with the veteran on the road over their true freshman sensations. But rest assured Georgia will play at least 4 and as many as 6 tailbacks.
2. After struggling in the first half, the UGA defense completely shut down Clemson in the second half. What kinds of adjustments did Pruitt make en route to that success? Do you see that second half as more indicative of the potential of UGA's defense under Pruitt or the struggles of a Clemson offense that has lost most of its playmakers from the last few seasons?
Coach Pruitt admitted after the Clemson game that film review disclosed a lot of things for the Bulldog defense to work on. In the first half the young secondary looked very vulnerable in man coverage. It did not help the Clemson did a great job of using twins and trips receiver sets which created a millisecond of hesitation for the young defenders about who to pick up. Pruitt solved this in the second half by switching to two deep and three deep zone looks while still getting pressure on Cole Stoudt with four or five rushers.
I think we will see improvement from game one to game two. You almost always do with young defenses. But I also think that we gave Coach Spurrier a lot of things to work with this weekend. If South Carolina takes advantage of opportunities early, the young defense could be made to look really, really young.
3. Hutson Mason didn't make any mistakes against Clemson but also didn't do much particularly noteworthy, averaging only five yards per attempt. If Carolina stacks the box and manages to limit Gurley's effectiveness, how confident are you in Mason's ability to win the game for UGA? Do you think Mason will perform well in a hostile road environment?
Hutson Mason is a guy who knows who he is. He will quickly tell you that he is no Aaron Murray. I like that. He does not need to win the game here, he simply needs to complete 70% of his passes so that South Carolina know they can be made to pay for stacking the box. I think he is capable of doing that, but this will be the biggest road environment in which he has played. You never quite know what they players reaction to that will be until you see it. But knowing what I know of Hutson Mason, I think he'll be okay.
4. If you could have any one South Carolina player, who would it be? Why?
Probably some combination of Rory Anderson and Jerell Adams. If there's one question mark for the Bulldogs it's at tight end, where senior Jay Rome has been oft-injured and not really lived up to his five-star recruiting hype, and where the other contributors are a redshirt freshman and a true freshman. Given how Mike Bobo loves to use the tight end in play action as a complement to the running game, the lack of an effective tight end receiving target is a big hole in this offense.
Somebody wins 27-24, but I have no idea who. My suspicion is that either Mason or Thompson makes an error, or someone makes a special teams play late that makes the difference. My head says Georgia, my heart says "I'm going to need some oxygen."