Georgia at South Carolina

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 7:46 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
TV: CBS
SERIES: Georgia leads 50-18-2. The Bulldogs won 24-10 in 2017.
RANKINGS: Georgia No. 3, South Carolina No. 24

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bulldogs

–QB Jake Fromm picked up right where he left off last fall by completing 12 of 16 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the 45-0 win over Austin Peay. Freshman Justin Fields impressed in his Bulldog debut by completing 7 of 8 throws for 63 yards and one score while rushing for an additional 33 on three attempts. Both are expected to play against the Gamecocks.

–WR Demetris Robertson, the transfer from Cal, did not catch a pass but took a speed sweep 72 yards for a score. The play actually allowed Robertson to finish as the game’s leading rusher. He figures to get even more opportunities against the Gamecocks in Columbia.

–RB D’Andre Swift received 10 of his 11 touches in the first quarter, rushing eight times for 43 yards and one touchdown. He also caught four passes for 33 yards. The Bulldogs were able to pull Swift in the second quarter and held him out the entire second half.

–S J.R. Reed may not get a lot of attention outside the state of Georgia, but he has become one of the two most dependable members of the defensive backfield along with preseason All-American corner Deandre Baker. Reed led Georgia with six tackles against Austin Peay and is considered one of the better overall leaders on the team.

Gamecocks

–QB Jake Bentley took advantage of no pass rush to speak of to complete 22 of his 29 attempts in the rout of Coastal Carolina, but he won’t have that luxury this week against Georgia. He needs to keep calm against the Bulldogs in this key SEC East matchup. “So no matter who they are or what they do, we’re going to approach each preparation the same,” Bentley said after the opening win, “and a lot of good things are going to carry over.”

–WR Deebo Samuel was back and in good form against Coastal Carolina. Samuel was making his first appearance since breaking a leg the third game of the 2017 season and rushed once for 11 yards to set up a touchdown, caught seven passes for 56 yards and a score, and returned two kickoffs for 45 yards. “It has been 11 months not being able to play against another opponent,” Samuel said. “I was just glad I was able to get back out there and play.”

–LB Bryson Allen-Williams made his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him last September for the rest of the 2017 season notable with three tackles for loss among his five stops. “I just know right after that first play, I was locked in. I was ready to go,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, 350 days to be exact, so I was just excited to be back.”

–NB Jaycee Horn started his first collegiate game, and the freshman responded with a sack among his three tackles. He also played some at corner in addition to nickel. “He’s a very mature young man,” coach Will Muschamp said. “Young players struggle most with when to focus and when to relax. He’s a guy that understands when to focus.”

KEYS
TO THE GAME

Having breezed past their opening opponents, No. 3 Georgia and No. 24 South Carolina get serious Saturday when they clash in a Southeastern Conference East Division matchup that will have consequences for both teams.

Kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, is 3:30 p.m. ET. CBS has the telecast.

For Georgia (1-0), it’s an opportunity to show the country that it is indeed worthy of its current seat among the top programs in the country.

For the up-and-coming Gamecocks (1-0), it’s an opportunity to prove they are ready to become a legitimate contender in the East.

“It counts as one,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. “We have a lot of football left to play, seven conference games after this one. We just need to focus in, put all our focus on Georgia this week. They have a good football team, but I think we do as well.”

Last week the Gamecocks cruised past Coastal Carolina 49-15, piling up 557 yards of offense, while the Bulldogs had no trouble rolling to a 45-0 victory over Austin Peay in a game that saw the fourth quarter shortened by five minutes upon mutual agreement by both head coaches.

“We probably didn’t get tested. I mean to be dead honest with you, probably didn’t get tested. I know it’s easy to say that now, but that’s not the caliber of offensive line we’re going to have to face,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Austin Peay and the job their coach does, and their kids played really hard.

“But we know that we’re going to face a bigger, heavier, quicker person, and we’re going to have to play better.”

Both teams will no doubt lean heavily on their respective quarterbacks.
Gamecocks junior Jake Bentley, who threw for a career-best four touchdowns last week against the Chanticleers, is arguably the most unsung quarterback in the SEC.

Georgia’s Jake Fromm is a proven talent after leading the Bulldogs to last year’s national championship game against Alabama.

“I don’t know if Jake Fromm really gets the credit he deserves,” Muschamp said. “I watched him in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma and he made some big-time throws. He was throwing to the field side, corner high, low digs, across the corner in. In the championship, he put them in position to win that game.”

Smart likes what he sees from Bentley.

“A leader. I mean he understands the game,” Smart said. “There are games I’ve watched him play over the years, it seems like 30 games now, seeing the kid in the game, understand it — whether it was on TV or watching him on tape — comes down to a two-minute situation,.

“You like having a coach on the field. He’s more athletic than you give him credit for. He scrambles for first downs when things are covered. He handles pressure well. He knows where to go with the ball. He’s unbelievable in the RPO game.

“I mean he’s a really good quarterback, and as an offensive coordinator, it’s a lot easier to call the game when you’ve got a guy that you know makes good decisions with the ball. And that’s what he does best.”

The Gamecocks also will lean on All-American wide receiver Deebo Samuel, back after missing most of last year with a broken leg. The Bulldogs are expected to welcome back leading receiver Terry Godwin, who missed the first game with a knee injury.

Both teams come into the game relatively healthy. South Carolina lost defensive end D.J. Wonnum to an ankle sprain against Coastal Carolina, but he is expected to be able to play.

“Last year’s game was probably one of the most physical we played in. It was a really tough, physical game,” Smart said, recalling is team’s 24-10 victory late in the year. “A lot of breaking the wheels when it comes to running the ball, them and us.

“They’ve got a great special teams unit that does a tremendous job in all phases. We know this is going to be a tough team.”