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Opponent Q&A: Georgia Bulldogs

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Breaking down the Bulldogs.

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Welcome back to our Opponent Q&A feature, where we sit down with a sister blog to get their take on the upcoming game. Big thanks to Macon Dawg over at Dawg Sports, who graciously answered our questions. Read on to see how the fine folks in Athens are feeling ahead of tomorrow’s matchup:

In a bit of a twist, the Gamecocks aren’t the only ones entering Saturday’s game dealing with an injured quarterback’s uncertain status. How likely is JT Daniels to suit up, and can you tell us a little about who the Dawgs would turn to in his absence?f

It’s a bit of a cliché, but I think at this point it’s a gametime decision. Daniels is practicing this week, in contrast to last week when he tried to go on Tuesday and it became clear that he simply needed to rest the oblique strain that’s been nagging him. If he’s good to go, he’s the starter. If Daniels doesn’t look 100% however, I think Georgia goes with Stetson Bennett again.

Georgia’s defensive line was the talk of the college football world after dominating Clemson in Week 1 (thanks for that, by the way!). Is there an aspect of UGA’s defense that’s underrated or overshadowed because of that unit’s success?

That defensive line is fierce. But the secondary is definitely under appreciated at this point. The Bulldogs have not surrendered and offense of touchdown all season, but have returned two interceptions for touchdowns (albeit one by a freshman outside linebacker).

The secondary has played excellent fundamental football, especially against a Clemson receiving unit which will be among the best they see all year. And they’ve done it without help from All-American transfer safety Tykee Smith, who some suspected to be the top player in the secondary coming into the year (he remains out this week with a foot injury).

We all remember what happened the last time South Carolina went to Athens, and it was a lot of fun! What would need to go wrong for Georgia — or, put a different way, what would be most likely to go wrong — for USC to pull off the unthinkable again?

If the Gamecocks are able to pull an upset in this one turnovers would play a critical role. Georgia is going to get some shots in on offense, and that defense may give up a big play or two, but they certainly aren’t going to allow South Carolina to move the ball down the field in any sustained manner. South Carolina needs Georgia to shoot itself in the foot, in Georgia territory, and then convert on those short fields.

This point spread is, uh, pretty overwhelming. After no touchdowns against Clemson but an explosion against UAB, do you see the UGA offense continuing to roll to the tune of a 32-point blowout, even without Daniels?

It’s worth remembering that the UAB defense that Georgia lit up for 49 points returned nine starters from a unit that was in the top twenty nationally in total defense and scoring defense last season. These guys were not a bunch of stiffs. That being said, South Carolina does have some athletes on the defensive side of the ball, especially on the defensive front. I don’t know that I expect 56 points in this one, but I definitely expect Georgia to mix it up, establish the run, and then try to go deep off of that. If either Bennett or Daniels can get hot the way Bennett did against the Blazers 40+ points are not out of the question.

Related, care to make an overall prediction of how you think the game goes down?

South Carolina is a better team than they showed against East Carolina, especially in the first half. But I just don’t see the Gamecocks having the depth to stick with the Bulldogs in this one. Look for South Carolina to come out pumped for a challenge, but to eventually get worn down both by waves of substitution and Todd Monken getting a bead on their defensive vulnerabilities. Score prediction: Georgia 38, South Carolina 20.

And just for fun, do you see Will Muschamp as an x-factor here?

Not particularly. People make fun of Will Muschamp, and it’s easy to do because he does have that sort of “lunkhead football coach from central casting” look. But he is a fantastic defensive coach, and he has genuinely helped the Bulldogs scheming and game planning this season. Georgia is not going to win this game because Muschamp is on the home sideline, nor is South Carolina going to win the game because he isn’t on the visitors’.