ATHENS - In this age of airing out the football, Georgia head coach Mark Richt is expecting a throwback game at South Carolina on Saturday.
"I've got a feeling this game could get a little bloody," Richt said. "I think both teams are tough, physically, and I think both teams have got outstanding backs that can pound. I know both teams know how to throw and catch, I think history has proven that, but before it's over it may get down to a little bit of a fistfight."
It's always possible that Richt is playing up the angle to play mind games with the Gamecocks. But it's also fairly obvious that the running game is the strength of both teams.
Georgia can offer up Heisman candidate Todd Gurley, who racked up 198 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Clemson. There's also Keith Marshall, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. South Carolina is led by Mike Davis, who had 101 rushing yards last week against East Carolina.
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And last year when the two teams met, Davis and Gurley combined for 281 rushing yards. The two starting quarterbacks from that game, Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw, are now in the NFL, and both teams have questions about the passing game as they enter the game.
That doesn't mean the two teams won't still try to win through the air. After all, both Richt and Steve Spurrier are former quarterbacks. But Georgia beat Clemson by concentrating on the run, and South Carolina beat East Carolina by pounding the ball to Davis in the fourth quarter.
"I know coach (Spurrier) really likes to have a balance in those numbers, but if you need to finish the game like they did by running the ball, and you're able to, it's a pretty exciting thing for coaches," Richt said. "I don't know how the fans like it, but I know coaches love to be able to end a game like that."
Where Georgia's offense goes to die
Richt has gone 4-2 at Williams-Brice as Georgia's head coach, but the last two losses have been ugly and the four wins were mostly thanks to the defense.
In fact the last time Georgia scored more than 20 points at South Carolina was in 1994, and that was a 24-21 squeaker. Since Richt arrived the Bulldogs have averaged 13 points a game at Williams-Brice, with the most memorable scoring play being David Pollack's sack-and-touchdown in 2002.
"Pollack, I think, scored more points than a lot of our offensive players there over those years," Richt said.
It's an interesting stat, but not one either coach thinks matters much.
"We have held them under 20 here. Then again, we didn't think A&M was going to roll up 52 on us either," Spurrier said. "Every year is a new year. We're believing we can play a lot better, but we need to go do it on the field, and this would be a good week to show that."
"I don't think it's weighing on the team unless I tell them about it, and then maybe it would," Richt said. "I don't think these guys read the press releases."
No, but they do get told about it by the media.
"That's a pretty interesting statistic. I could have gone without knowing that," quarterback Hutson Mason said.
Mutual respect among coaches
Two coaches that Georgia fans have may have the most animosity for are Spurrier and Urban Meyer, now at Ohio State. Both coaches were part of the heated Georgia-Florida rivalry at one time.
But competition takes a backseat to personal relationships, as was showed when Richt's wife Katharyn was diagnosed with cancer with a few years ago.
"(Spurrier) and Urban Meyer were the two guys that reached out and gave me a call and spent a little time on the phone about that, and that meant a lot to me," Richt said.