The South Carolina Gamecocks are staring down the barrel of what will likely be their toughest test this season, an early tilt against the second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs between the hedges. It’s been well-documented at this point that USC is a prohibitive underdog, even with Georgia’s questions at quarterback, and last week’s last-second escape against East Carolina, thrilling as it may have been, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. Nonetheless, the show must go on, and here’s what South Carolina needs to do to have a shot in this one.
Limit mistakes. Georgia’s defense is incredible, so asking for perfection from South Carolina’s offense is a tall task. But Zeb Noland — at this point, I’m still assuming Luke Doty will make either a limited appearance, or none at all — can’t turn into an interception machine, the running backs need to keep the ball off the ground, and so on. The Bulldogs will have plenty of opportunities to score as it is; don’t give them even more.
Make a play or two on special teams. Now more than ever, we need BeamerBall to show up in a big way. From being able to pin Georgia deep on punts, to hitting field goals, to having some great returns or even blocking a kick, some magic pretty much always need to happen on special teams to pull off an upset of this magnitude. So far — and true to his pedigree — this phase of the game really does appear to be a point of emphasis for Shane Beamer and his staff, so we’ll see if that can continue against quality competition.
Have a good day on defense. Historically, South Carolina has been a team that leans on its defense, and that’s absolutely the case with these 2021 Gamecocks as well. A legitimately good and underrated defensive line highlights this unit, and so far, the secondary hasn’t been the Achilles heel many had feared it would be. The Georgia offense is talented, but there may be some opportunities here with their injured quarterbacks and missing personnel at receiver. The Gamecocks will need to force some turnovers and make negative plays to keep up in this one.