The number one team in the nation and defending two-time champion Georgia Bulldogs could be in for a tough weekend as they open conference play against the Gamecocks between the hedges. So far, it’s been smooth sailing for the super-talented SEC powerhouse. Maybe a little too easy as the Dawgs haven’t had to switch from second gear yet. On the other side of the field, the South Carolina Gamecocks have been tested already early this season. Just two games in and these two will go to battle in the third week of the season. Let’s go over what needs to happen if the Bulldogs want to get out with a win in a matchup that could favor the Gamecocks.
Georgia has started extremely slow so far in each of its first two games. Although they dominated smaller teams like Ball State and Tennessee-Martin, most of their points came in the second half. Both games went into halftime much closer than Bulldog fans expected.
The Gamecocks are not a team you want to get a slow start with as they have shown they are capable of putting up points on tough teams this year. Spencer Rattler has been in charge of the offense and accurate throws dicing up power five defenses. Bulldogs quarterback Carson Beck has been accurate as well but hasn’t faced a defense like the Gamecocks yet.
The Passing Game Battle
The Gamecock’s secondary is a strong position as Georgia goes in without Ladd McConkey. The Bulldogs will be depending upon Mekhi Mews, who leads the team with 102 receiving yards, RaRa Thomas, and Brock Bowers to get open for Carson Beck and make plays. Beck has been accurate and consistent with over 72% passer rating. So far Beck has been more comfortable checking down than taking shots downfield.
Spencer Rattler also has played well against a ranked North Carolina team and Furman in their first two games. Rattler is at an 83% passer rating and went 30 of 38 for 353 yards against a tough Tarheels team. His offensive line will need to show they can protect him better against Georgia’s powerhouse defense. They gave up 9 sacks against North Carolina which makes his numbers in that game look even better.
Establishing Ground Game
Both teams will need to establish a running game which neither has been able to do so far. South Carolina has not been able to run block at all. They actually had just 2.8 YPC against Furman and totaled -2 against the Tarheels. Georgia Bulldogs was held to under 100 yards on the ground against Ball State and though having some key runs from time to time they haven’t been able to stay consistent.
It will be Georgia’s first test against a game SEC opponent. The Dawgs are favored by 27.5 points. It will be a closer game than predicted and the Bulldogs will need to play with more fire and aggression against the Gamecocks if they want to stay on track for a historic three-peat.
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