COLUMBIA, S.C. - Since I know a few people on the South Carolina beat, as you'd suspect, I've spent a good deal of time in the press box so far asking how they saw this game, how they felt it would go, etc. And something has struck me:
- Nobody shares Darius Rucker's opinion that this will be a blowout.
- People that cover South Carolina tend to think the Gamecocks will win this game, for a variety of reasons.
- And people that cover Georgia, after some initial wavering, have come over to the thinking that the Bulldogs will win. Myself included.
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You may think this is to be expected, but it's actually not. Those of us in the media, at least those of us professional enough to be impartial, look at the teams we cover with a more critical eye. We see the warts and the weaknesses and often discount the obvious strengths. So for both media contingents to feel this way, I guess that's what happens when two 5-0, highly-ranked teams meet.
Personally, I'll be intrigued to see the chess match between coaches, particularly between Steve Spurrier and Todd Grantham. Will Grantham stack the box, put a spy on Connor Shaw's scrambling, and dare Spurrier to win the game on Shaw's arm? My guess is that will be a big part of the strategy, considering that's what Grantham did - successfully - with James Franklin at Missouri.
I'm also still very interested to see whether Georgia having Alec Ogletree for the first time against South Carolina will help against Marcus Lattimore.
When Georgia is on offense, the question doesn't seem to be whether Aaron Murray will be pressured, it's how much he will be and whether it will result in turnovers. The Bulldogs will do their best to mitigate it by continuing to going in the spread, but they also have to get the ball to "Gurshall."
(Are we at the point of referring to "Gurshall" on first reference, rather than the freshmen tailback's first names? Well right now, I am.)
In any event, this should be a fascinating affair. Saddle up, ladies and gentlemen.
A few other pregame notes:
- There are no major omissions from Georgia's dress list, other than Michael Bennett, who tore his ACL on Tuesday. Fullback Zander Ogletree is one notable player to stay home, while walk-on Corey Campbell is here. Whether or not Ogletree was suspended the first four games (my information is that he was), it certainly seems the junior is way behind on the depth chart now.
- Freshman Receiver Blake Tibbs is also staying home, despite Bennett's injury, as the team still plans to redshirt Tibbs, barring more injuries.
- Offensive lineman Hunter Long did make the trip, so he's healthy enough to play, after recovering from his broken foot in the preseason. Freshman Greg Pyke stayed home, as he will redshirt this season too if the line stays injury free.