Friday, September 7

More 'Cocks than a pool party at Larry Craig's place: Revisiting South Carolina.

Yes, it was an obvious joke -- and I'll make it 400 more times if I have to. (Actually, the funniest line on the entire sordid affair came from my sister, who responded to the CNN report that "Idaho's Republican governor hasn't decided who will fill Senator Craig's seat" with "Oh, I don't think Senator Craig has had any problems getting his seat filled.")

But I digress. As Paris Hilton has almost assuredly said at some point, bring on the 'Cocks!



What I said at the time: A bit of a cold-water NSFMF was suggested even before the Dawgs' whomping of Oklahoma State.

The last time Spurrier came to Athens, the Bulldogs were supposed to beat them lopsided but ended up having to escape with a two-point win; D.J. Shockley’s passing was inconsistent at best for most of that game, so the one providing most of the offense was Thomas Brown. Lumpkin will likely be tapped as the workhorse in the Georgia backfield this year, and with SC's secondary the strength of their defense, he'll need a fast start here. . . .

. . . a defensive struggle seems pretty likely, as these two teams have averaged fewer than 28 points total in their six matchups during Mark Richt’s tenure. But if Georgia can build an early lead, however small, on the Gamecocks, then they can pound the ball with Lumpkin and Moreno in the second half and potentially force Blake Mitchell to do something stupid. Georgia wins by a TD.


What's happened since then: Georgia, of course, taxed that ass against Oklahoma State; South Carolina, meanwhile, had more trouble than expected with Louisiana-Lafayette, holding but a 21-14 lead at the half and ultimately winning 28-14. The Gamecocks held U-La-La to just 63 passing yards but coughed up 252 rushing yards in the win (116 to QB Mike Desormeaux).

Care to amend your initial statement, sir?: Well, obviously I need to take Kregg Lumpkin out of the equation -- Lumpkin evidently broke his thumb in the OSU game and figures to be out for at least a month until he can securely grip the ball again. That leaves Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown, and if you saw their performance against OSU then you know that's not exactly something to be weeping over.

At any rate, my original game plan still seems sound -- establish the run early, very cautiously throw in some medium-to-long passes, and should we end up with a lead in the second half, run run run some more and pound it down their garnet-and-black throats. South Carolina will be in more of a position to harass our offensive line than OSU was, but Bobo cooked up a very smart game plan on Saturday, calling a lot of quick outs and short drops to minimize the amount of time the O-line would have to spend getting picked on, and I'd imagine we'll see something similar against the 'Cocks. If ULL can roll up more than 250 yards on the ground, then between Brown, Moreno, Brannan Southerland, and a quarterback who's demonstrated Matt Stafford's kind of mobility, we should be able to do the same.

There's just one thing that gives me pause about this game, and that is how eerily similar the whole situation is to 2005. Two years ago, Georgia was coming off their stunning victory over the upset-minded Boise State Broncos, while Spurrier's debut at SC was a not-terribly-inspiring 24-15 win over a Central Florida team that had gone winless the season before. On paper, then, that game figured to be a Georgia romp, particularly since it was between the hedges, but instead South Carolina took the Dawgs right down to the wire in a 17-15 nailbiter -- and if not for a blown Gamecock PAT in the second quarter, I shudder to think how that game might've ended.


Hang on, Shockley, Shockley hang on.

Fast-forward to 2007, Georgia has just juked emphatically around yet another trendy upset pick while South Carolina spent their opener getting nipped at by yet another crap opponent, but there are any number of reasons not to get overconfident about this. First of all, master Texas Hold'Em player that he is, Spurrier has all but admitted he held back on opening up the playbook against ULL specifically because he didn't want to tip his hand to Mark Richt. Second of all, Blake Mitchell will be back this week, which will almost certainly add a new dimension to the 'Cocks' offense. I'm going to be blunt here -- between his brushes with the law and his apparent disinterest in actually attending class, Blake Mitchell does not have two brain cells to rub together, but the kid does have an arm, and we should expect to see a lot more of it than we saw from either Chris Smelley or Tommy Beecher against the Ragin' Cajuns.

Fortunately, there is a well-established game plan for counteracting this: Pressure Mitchell as much as possible and he'll start making decisions that make Reggie Ball look positively Solomonic. The Georgia front seven spent enough time in the Oklahoma State backfield on Saturday that they were in danger of being assessed property taxes and ended up sacking Bobby Reid five times; against an offensive line that has been a virtually constant source of frustration for Spurrier ever since he arrived in Columbia, they should be able to do something similar. They will face a dangerous running threat in the Gamecocks' Cory Boyd, but not one they can't handle, not after clamping down on OSU's Dantrell Savage to the tune of 55 yards.


You don't want none of this.

I still can't predict this game will be the blowout that last year's was, but with an edge in talent on both sides of the ball and the home-field advantage, Georgia should win here as long as they refrain from any momentum-altering mistakes. I'll stand by my prediction of a low-scoring defensive battle and a Bulldog margin of victory of a TD or so, but wouldn't be surprised if it was more.

I will run up and down Highland Avenue in front of my apartment building wearing nothing but a Georgia flag if: Georgia scores more than 40 points. Last year, I promised just such a scantily clad run if the Dawgs shut the Gamecocks out completely, never dreaming that we'd actually hand Steve Spurrier a goose egg (or that I would unwittingly start what's becoming a grand bare-assed Hey Jenny Slater tradition). Last year our defense handed the Evil Genius some of the most poetic justice imaginable; this year I'm willing to humiliate myself if the Dawgs' offense beats him at his own high-scoring game. Our offense performed well last week against a D that doesn't quite have juggernaut written all over it, but if we can run up the same kind of score on a legitimate SEC defense, then we can officially start calling this a special season.

5 comments:

Hunker Down said...

Doug,

I personally do not desire to see you running bare-assed through your neighborhood, but I DO wish it upon your neighbors!

I like your preview of the game and would be thoroughly orgasmic if we could ring up 40+ points on SC. Not likely, but maybe this team is intent on making you drop trou.

GO DAWGS!

C. Paul said...

Awesome. Just awesome.

I really think we need to take some early shots down field to loosen USC up defensively. If we can hit Mikey or Bailey for a big gainer, Bobo can dink and dunk them to death as Tryone Nix will have them blitzing all the time.

Also, Moreno needs to prove he's more than a one game wonder (since he and TB will be toting the rock full time).

Defensively, we need the exact same performance as last week. Fast to the ball, sure tackling and watching the middle of the field as Spurrier loves to throw to Cook & McKinley on the post.

Key Player Offense: Knowshon
Key Player Defense: Kelin

UGA 24 - Cocks 16

Universal REMONSTER said...

Have you read that Ron Morris Q&A on Georgia Sports blog? Jesus....

I thought we were bad.....

NCT said...

I was poking around on some Gamecock message boards and came across a post pointing out that the Gamecocks' over-all football record is 516-517-44. They are, therefore, aspiring to become a .500 program with a win tomorrow.

Anything I can think of to add to that would just sound cruel.

Ben Rockwell said...

At least Bummingham will be spared a bare-assed romp through the streets. I still say, though, with wounded pride, "Go Dawgs."