Here are five thoughts at the half, with Georgia leading South Carolina 24-13.
Quarterback Greyson Lambert started much better than he did a week ago against Vanderbilt. Of course, it would have been difficult for Lambert not to. But Lambert came out on a mission it seemed and completed his first four passes on Georgia’s first possession. His first and only incompletion of the game was a high throw to Jeb Blazevich in the end zone, which worked out because Georgia’s starting tight end was blanketed by two defenders. Lambert’s timing seemed to be in sync with his receivers. Lambert stayed impressive throughout the first half, hitting receiver after receiver. Fourteen of his first 15 throws went for completions, which kept South Carolina from being able to load up the box and key in on the running game. Lambert’s comfort and confidence was evident and it paid off for the Bulldogs big time. In the first half, Lambert totaled 190 passing yards, more than he had in either of the first two games.
Once upon a time Steve Spurrier ran the Fun ‘N Gun. Nowadays, he’s OK with calling the option. And when South Carolina needed to march the ball down the field, the Gamecocks went with Lorenzo Nunez between the 20s to run some triple-option out of the shotgun. On South Carolina’s touchdown drive late in the second quarter, the Gamecocks totaled 53 rushing yards. This, against a rushing defense that looked impressive for the first two weeks of the season.
Freshman tight end Jackson Harris continued to get plenty of run on offense. At least two times, the Bulldogs began their drives with Harris in the game at tight end instead of Jeb Blazevich. And Harris has answered the call. Harris finished the first half with two catches for 35 yards, both of the plays going for first downs. Blazevich and Jay Rome also came down with catches – Blazevich going for two for 13 yards and Rome catching one pass for 20 yards. In total, tight ends caught 68 of Lambert’s 190 first-half yards.
Kickoff coverage was a major issue in the first half. On three consecutive kickoffs, the Bulldogs allowed Shon Carson to run right up the middle. On the first two, kicker Marshall Morgan, of all folks, was there to stop Carson from breaking bigger runs. But at the end of the half, following Lambert's touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell, Carson busted one to midfield. A facemask penalty later and kicker Elliott Fry was able to cut the game to 24-13 at the half. Georgia’s special teams essentially gifted South Carolina three free points to end the first half, which will certainly be addressed in the locker room.
With Rico McGraw out for what appears to be two to four weeks, Quincy Mauger moved down to play the star position. Freshman Johnathan Abram earned his first start at safety, with the secondary, as a whole, having mixed success. Most of South Carolina’s passing yards came underneath or over the middle of the field, with Perry Orth going 6-of-13 for 66 yards. It is interesting to see defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt go with Mauger at the star instead of using another cornerback. But Pruitt does want to put his best athletes on the field, and it looks like he thinks highly enough of Abram to go ahead and put him into game action.