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One thing you can be sure of is that Steve Spurrier will have a specific plan for how he wants to attack Georgia's defense. Even without Marcus Lattimore at running back, the Ole Ball Coach has a couple of pounders in Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. Expect the Gamecocks to attack the Georgia defense early with the run to set up the zone read from Connor Shaw and the play action pass. South Carolina will likely want to make the Georgia defense run quite a bit and get the ball into the hands of their speedy receivers with passes to the perimeter on screens and hitches. If Spurrier can't get the running game going, you could see Dylan Thompson come in to attack Georgia's defense through the air.
South Carolina defense vs. the Georgia offense
South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is in an enviable position. With Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton rushing from the edge, the Gamecocks don't have to bring pressure. Expect Ward to pick his spots early with creative pressure to try and force Aaron Murray into an early mistake. South Carolina's linebackers are young so some zone blitzes that would drop Clowney or Sutton into coverage could be a way to confuse Murray. Expect tight, man coverage from the South Carolina defensive backs early on as well. Malcolm Mitchell has been one of UGA's top deep threats and with him out for the season, Ward might test the waters early with some bump and run defense. As the game wears on, expect the Gamecocks adjust with Georgia's success. If the Bulldogs are max protecting and having success in the passing game, you could see more zone or pressure depending on how close they are to getting to Murray. If Georgia is running the ball well, South Carolina might decide to pinch and run stunt to slow that down before attacking the pocket.
Georgia offense vs. South Carolina defense
Priority number one will be to get Clowney blocked. Georgia knows that in order to win this game it can't let the star junior take the game over. Expect some creative protections early and maybe even some runs right at the former five-star talent. Also expect some backwards calls early in the game. In run situations, expect Georgia to throw it and in some passing situations, expect the Bulldogs to run it. This will keep Clowney off balance and buy Murray some time in the pocket. Also expect a great deal of up-tempo offense. With Saturday's contest being a home game, Georgia will have a better shot of communicating effectively and that could be big for the no-huddle attack. As the game wears on, Georgia will want to throw off of the run. Todd Gurley is a huge key to this game, as UGA will need to get him going to set up the play action pass.
Georgia defense vs. South Carolina offenseYou have to give the Gamecocks credit. Spurrier has attacked the Georgia defense in different ways in the last three years. Georgia will now have to play balanced defense with a focus on stopping the run first. If Georgia can slow or stop South Carolina's run game early, you may see more chances being taken with the blitz and stunts. If South Carolina is able to keep Georgia honest in the run game, the Bulldogs will likely try to keep the safeties back so that the Gamecocks can't attack down the field. The big key to this game is going to be Georgia's defensive line and linebackers. Can that group tackle well? If so, the Bulldogs have the speed and quickness advantage in that matchup with the South Carolina offensive line. If the tackling is poor, then Georgia is going to have to be more aggressive than it would like.
South Carolina presents a completely different challenge than Clemson, but is it one the Bulldogs are ready for? South Carolina is more physical but not as explosive as the Tigers. Georgia will have to work hard to limit turnovers and create ones of its own. At home, that is possible. South Carolina comes into the game with a great deal of confidence having won the last three in this series. The Gamecocks have some questions marks on the interior defensive line, linebacker, and safety. Georgia has question marks across the defense when it comes to tackling. The last time the Bulldogs lost at home it was to South Carolina in 2011. Turnovers were the story that day, and Murray and company will have to limit those in order to come out on top on Saturday. Georgia's back is against the wall. Murray limits the turnovers and Gurley gets over 25 touches to get the break the streak in Athens. Final Score: Georgia 27 South Carolina 24
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