Friday, September 10, 2010

The Sun is the Same, but in a Relative Way.

After looking over my post this morning on five questions, I suddenly realized that last year's game offensive scrimmage really altered the way I, and others, thought about the Georgia vs. South Carolina game.   Up until about ten minutes ago, I was convinced the game tomorrow would be a high scoring affair, at least for Georgia vs. South Carolina, somewhere in the 30's for the winning team and upper 20's for the losing team.

Now, I am not so sure.

Gotta be the hair.
Looking at recent past history of this rivalry, it is smarter to expect a low scoring affair.  Yes, I know the Cockfence is all that with Garcia being the QB he's always threatened to be.  Yes, I know he had a career day against Georgia last year.  Yes, I know Georgia lit up the scoreboard last weekend.

However, all indications point to Georgia playing a very conservative game on offense.  Not that they'll look like it.  I think we'll see a game plan much like what we saw against Georgia Tech last November.  Georgia ran the ball 44 times in that game.  Cox was only asked to throw it 14.  He didn't even bother to throw until the second quarter.  Now, I don't believe for a second that Georgia will be able to take the opening kickoff and drive the ball 74 yards on 10 straight runs, but I do believe that the short passing game, which South Carolina's D showed weakness in defending when Southern Miss was in three receiver sets, has potential.  In that first drive against Tech, Georgia ran the ball out of multiple sets and looks.  If the short passing game and running game are working fine, which I believe it will, then that keeps the defense off the field. 

Furthermore, I have a shitload of more faith in the defense this season than last.  True, South Carolina looked much better against Southern Miss in their first game than they did against NC State in their first game last year.  Again, it is safe to expect some lapses in schematic execution.  I don't expect receivers to be open underneath like last year and have them turn three yard passes into 16 yard pitch and runs.  Based on what we saw last week, the Dawgs D is much too fundamentally sound to let that happen.  I worry about the long play, but I don't look for anyone to let a receiver getting open behind them after Grantham's Chernobyl impression on the sideline last week.  Oh yeah, don't look for Grantham's defenses to simply blitz the same guy from the same place and give nine yard cushions on receivers, the two biggest things that really hurt the Dawgs last season.

The one nagging concern I have is how the defense reacts the first time they do give up a long drive.  They didn't allow one last week.  I am heartened by the reaction when they gave up the long TD pass, but this is the SEC.  South Carolina, by objective and subjective measures, is better than they have been and is far better than ULL.  Are they much better on offense?  Overall, they seem to be, as they now have a legit rushing threat and Garcia and Jeffery are at least a season improved in their little pitch and catch game.  Are they much better on defense? I don't know.  They showed a maddening bend but don't break propensity against Southern Miss.  Eric Norwood isn't around to make 22.5 tackles and grab an interception.  Their front line doesn't seem to be quite what it was last season, either. 

In the end, it could end up being a field goal battle, which is what you have come to expect from Georgia vs. South Carolina, right?  I don't mean to imply it will be an ugly game.  I don't think it will be.  I think it will be a hard fought, well played, defensive and field position game.  If it comes down to field goals, I like Georgia's chances.

There is no way they keep the Gamecocks out of the endzone all day, though.  Is there?

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