Hurricane Matthew may have delayed and even inhibited our goal of a Q&A with the Bulldogs, but we prevailed. Due to some power outages, evacuations and lack of wifi, we weren’t able to get answers from Dawg Sports, but I was able to answer some questions they threw our way, so at least we have a little something to munch on on this kind of, but not really game day.
Let’s get started.
1) Both of these teams are coming off wrenching losses. Georgia fans are pretty familiar with the tortured psyche of their squad, but what's the mental makeup of this Gamecock team now?
The Gamecocks reacted to the A&M loss in one of the more positive ways I've seen a team react to a loss. Many players quickly took to social media following the game with positive and inspirational messages to their peers and teammates. Sure, the squad is discouraged they're not getting results, and coach Muschamp knows results are what matters and what he and his team are striving for, but the reality is this team is super young and inexperienced and lacks any real playmaking threat on offense.
I expect the team to continue to play inspired and fight in each and every game the rest of this year. That might not result in wins or a trip to a bowl game, but I think it'll do just enough to keep the fan base positive and keep the momentum on the recruiting trail.
2) What's the latest on the South Carolina QB situation? Will we see both Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain?
I don't think we’ll know who the starter against Georgia will be until kickoff, but we do know we'll see both QB's take possibly equal snaps, depending on who shows greater effectiveness. The reality of the situation is McIlwain's feet alone aren't producing enough and he's been ineffective getting vertical in the passing game. On the other end, while Orth is steady and for the most part secure with the ball, he doesn't have enough playmakers around him to consistently fool defenses and move the ball down the field for touchdown drives.
What I'd like to see is Orth take control of the offense between the 30's and have McIlwain come in when the team enters the redzone. McIlwain hasn't proved he can create and sustain drives, but where Orth fails is in the redzone capping off drives for touchdowns. I think if the coaches can somehow magically whip up the perfect combo between the two, the Gamecocks will be able to move themselves out of the basement on offense.
3) South Carolina has suffered some injuries in the receiving corps. What's the status of that unit? If the Gamecocks need to pass to win this one, who are they going to?
From what I've heard, both Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards will be back for South Carolina this week. We've heard this before though with Deebo only to find him in gym shorts on the sideline come kickoff. So, I won't believe anything until I see both of them dressed out and on the field.
The fact is, South Carolina needs both receivers healthy and out on the field to have any hope of an effective passing game. Without each guy, you can't respect the leftovers enough to fear them down the field.
4) Will Muschamp has a reputation as a phenomenal defensive coach. What playmakers have emerged for him so far on that side of the ball?
We knew the linebacking corps would be the strength of the Gamecocks D, even with the absence of Skai Moore. What I've been impressed with are the other two units, the secondary and defensive line. The secondary has been able to consistently create takeaways with the help of Jamarcus King supporting other vets like Chris Lammons and Chris Moody. And the defensive line with guys like Darius English have actually started to somewhat resemble the lines of Clowney and Kelcey Quarles. Don't get me wrong, they're not there yet, but could become a dominant force in the next year or two.
After witnessing what he's accomplished with this unit he inherited, give Muschamp one or two more seasons and I think this defense could become one of the most dominant in the country.
5) Is the new Sunday start time a pro or a con for the Gamecocks?
Honestly, I think it might be a con. Sure, the extra day of preparation will benefit both teams, but the atmosphere expected Saturday night had the game been played as scheduled, was going to be nothing short of electric. This was slated to be the first night game at Williams-Brice against a rival in some time, so I think the entire fan base was ready to get rowdy. Now, with the new kickoff, I'm expecting a little bit more of a lethargic crowd, at least to start the game, and I think our home field advantage can be greatly diminished should the Bulldogs be able to put together a long touchdown drive early.
6) Score prediction?
I'm going with the Gamecocks in a low-scoring struggle. I think Muschamp will have the D dialed in on stopping the run and will do just enough to limit Chubb and I haven't seen enough from Jacob Eason yet to fear his passing game. Another 75-yard TD run from the Gamecocks' running backs to start the game would be ideal, but it'll come down to wether the offense has to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns when it gets into range.
South Carolina 18 - Georgia 14