Georgia put in a magnificent performance in Saturday night's 52-20 win over South Carolina. The Bulldogs had a fierce intensity on defense and played nearly perfect football on offense.
Here's how I graded Georgia's performance:
It didn't get much better than this. Greyson Lambert, coming off a week where many questions emerged as to whether he should continue to start or not, went down in history by going 24-of-25 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Lambert posted a 96 percent completion percentage, which is the best in NCAA single-game history. After an incompletion in the first quarter on Georgia's first drive, Lambert reeled off 20 in a row, setting a school record and beating the mark previously held by former quarterback and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo (19), who is now the head coach at Colorado State. Lambert threw with precision, which included two tough throws to Malcolm Mitchell in man coverage. Mitchell finished the game with eight catches, 122 yards and one touchdown. Running back Sony Michel had a great game, scoring three touchdowns and 83 total yards. Running back Nick Chubb toted the ball 21 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and it seemed like no one noticed based on what everyone else around him did.
The Bulldogs played a great game defensively but had one area where things caught them by surprise. With South Carolina unable to throw the ball or run conventionally, the Gamecocks opted for a triple-option attack out of the shotgun with third-string quarterback Lorenzo Nunez. In the second quarter, it worked. Georgia knew South Carolina would throw something different if it was unable to move the ball. The Gamecocks did, but the Bulldogs didn't seem to think it would be option football. In the second half, Georgia played the option much better. Although the Gamecocks totaled 174 rushing yards, the passing game was limited to 84. Georgia held a Steve Spurrier coached team to under 300 total yards and flew around to the ball over and over again.
Special teams: C
With the offense and defense playing spectacularly, the special teams unit could afford an average performance. Really, this grade comes from three consecutive South Carolina returns in the second quarter. On two kickoffs in a row, South Carolina's Shon Carson found a crease up the middle and ran returns of 28 and 27 yards, respectively, before kicker Marshall Morgan tackled him. On the next kickoff, with Collin Barber handling duties, Carson returned the ball to the Georgia 48, which was followed by a Reggie Davis facemask penalty. That set up a 51-yard Elliott Fry field goal just before halftime. Georgia will need to clean up its kickoff coverage unit over the next two weeks before Alabama comes to town.
Georgia outplayed and outcoached South Carolina for 60 minutes of football Saturday night. On offense, when everyone else thought Georgia should stick to the running attack and wear South Carolina down, Mark Richt and Brian Schottenheimer allowed Lambert to show off what he can do. And when Lambert started hot, the coaches kept with it. On defense, the gameplan was to take away Brandon Wilds and the Gamecocks rushing attack and force the passing game to beat the Bulldogs. After a few early throws, and South Carolina hitting some plays with the option, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt adjusted and kept the game in his favor. Georgia had the upper hand all night and kept the pedal to the metal on both sides of the ball.