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Georgia Bulldogs at South Carolina Gamecocks: Defensive Film Study

Let's take a look at a key defensive play.

Streeter Lecka

Although the Gamecocks gave up a ton of yards against Georgia last weekend, they did come up with some needed stops over the course of the game, none bigger than forcing a missed field goal when Georgia got the ball on Carolina's four-yard line late in the game after Dylan Thompson was intercepted by Georgia's Damian Swann. Let's take a look at the key play of that stop, the Hutson Mason intentional grounding.

A lot of the discussion of this play has focused on whether UGA should have handed the ball off to Todd Gurley. In hindsight, sure, they probably should have, but hindsight is 20/20.

The truth is, this play could have made Mike Bobo look like a genius. The call is play-action off a fake toss sweep to Gurley. The fake to Gurley is a misdirection to the strong side. Georgia wants to go to Quayvon Hicks, who is lined up on the strong side as an h-back and who runs across the back of the line towards the field side. The jumbo look with both the tight end and Hicks as h-back is part of the design to sell the fake to to Gurley.

When he breaks free as he crosses the field, Hicks is in good position to score a touchdown if he gets the ball. There are two players in position to tackle him, corner Rico McWilliams and the outside linebacker (I think this is Jonathan Walton but can't get a good look at the number). The linebacker gets blocked, and while McWilliams may have been able to make the tackle, the matchup between him and the bruising fullback Hicks favors UGA.

McWilliams never has to make that tackle, though, because Gerald Dixon makes an excellent play here. The play is designed to trick Dixon into going after Gurley from the backside. Notice that the Georgia right tackle doesn't even chip Dixon in an attempt to get Dixon to think the play is going the other way. This is actually a very well-designed, well-executed play initially. However, Dixon blows it up by reading the quarterback all the way. He recognizes play-action immediately, allowing him to get in Mason's face. Mason panics and commits a costly intentional grounding penalty, which surrenders Georgia's favorable down-distance position, resulting in the key eventual missed field goal.

As we've said here before, Gerald Dixon is never going to be mistaken for Jadeveon Clowney as an athlete. However, he is a smart player who plays disciplined football. That discipline helped him make one of the key plays for Carolina in the win over UGA.