Here are five notes and thoughts at the half, with Georgia leading South Carolina 14-7.
Georgia gambled with a surprise onside kickoff to start the game and it didn't pan out. South Carolina was able to recover and begin possession of it at the 50. This screamed a couple of things:
1) Georgia saw a formation on film that it felt it could take advantage of. This happens all the time, where a coach sees something on tape and sends a signal in if the formation they like shows up. It just didn't happen to work as the Gamecocks were able to see the onside kick attempt in time to fall on it.
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2) Georgia's coaching staff figured this was a calculated enough risk to take as it held confidence the defense would keep South Carolina out of the end zone.
This worked out for Georgia as the Bulldogs forced a field goal attempt. Place-kicker Parker White missed the kick, with South Carolina missing a golden opportunity to capitalize early on the No. 1 team in the nation.
Penalties and a turnover
It wasn't a particularly smooth start for the Bulldogs.
A week ago against Florida, Georgia played a mostly clean game in the penalty department. Against South Carolina, the Bulldogs picked up two early penalties for 25 yards. But Georgia left a potential touchdown on the field when receiver Terry Godwin lost a fumble at the South Carolina 5-yard line.
The completion was going to go for a first down and set Georgia up with a first-and-goal. Instead, the Bulldogs got zero points out of the possession. In a conference game like this, that's how the other team stays around. Georgia can't afford those kind of turnovers against a South Carolina team that showed up ready to play.
Fromm needed to soften South Carolina up
As expected, South Carolina's defensive game-plan was to stop Georgia's stout rushing attack. And early on, the Gamecocks were selling out to do so.
That opened up some easy reads on the outside for quarterback Jake Fromm. By loading the box, the Gamecocks couldn't play tight on the Georgia receivers. So Fromm went to work and took what the defense gave him by hitting some out routes, slants and curls to move the chains.
In the first half, this was effective as Fromm completed 11 of 14 throws for 126 yards and a touchdown.
If South Carolina continues to play the run like it has, Fromm will likely keep turning to the air.
Bentley finds time
Georgia came into this game knowing that it needed to get pressure on sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley. That was not the case early on as there were a lot of plays where Bentley comfortably sat back in the pocket and found receivers breaking open on third down.
Bentley even missed a couple of receivers down the field that would have padded his stats and kept Georgia on its heels. One play in particular was an overthrow to running back A.J. Turner, who was breaking free down the right sideline on a wheel route.
The Bulldogs did finally break through with Roquan Smith blitzing up the middle on a first-and-10 with less than nine minutes to go in the second quarter. Smith came free and dropped Bentley. But even after that play, Bentley was able to pick up a third-and-15 to Hayden Hurst.
Bentley finished the half 11-of-17 throwing for 139 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Both Georgia and South Carolina got receiving touchdowns following replay review.
First it was South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards with a terrific touchdown. Bentley threw a back shoulder fade that he turned and adjusted on with Malkom Parrish in coverage. As Edwards came down with the ball, he had a foot after maintaining possession and was rightly awarded the score.
On the ensuing Georgia possession, the Bulldogs got the ball to the 10-yard line before dialing up a pass to Javon Wims. Wims had a defender tightly guarding him but had him boxed out with his 6-foot-4 and 215-pound frame. In real time, it sure looked like Wims was out of bounds. But the replay showed Wims had his toe down inside the end zone while making the catch.
The Georgia touchdown proved huge as an incomplete pass would have meant a third-down play upcoming.