Looking Ahead: South Carolina Gamecocks
In 2019, South Carolina came to Athens and upset then-ranked No. 3 Georgia in an overtime win.
The Bulldogs got revenge in Columbia last year after jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Georgia ended up winning 45-16 behind 332 rushing yards, including 104 yards from running back James Cook. The Gamecocks ended up firing Will Muschamp, who is now on Georgia’s staff.
Here’s what to expect from South Carolina this week:
Head Coach: Former UGA special teams coach Shane Beamer took the reigns over the South Carolina football program in wake of Muschamp’s firing in 2020. Beamer left Georgia in 2017 to coach at Oklahoma, where he served as the assistant head coach for the offense for three seasons. While in Norman, the Sooners had a season where they led the nation in total offense and yards per play. Beamer returns to South Carolina, where he served as the special teams and outside linebacker coach from 2007-2010. Son of legendary Coach Frank Beamer, Shane is looking to finally make his mark in the head coaching department.
2021 Season: The Gamecocks enter into week 3 with a 2-0 record. They notched wins over Eastern Illinois and East Carolina, respectively. The Gamecocks cruised to a 46-0 win in week 1 before squeaking out a 20-17 victory over the Pirates in week 2. South Carolina played sloppy, turning the ball over three times in its first five drives while committing eight penalties against ECU. However, Beamer’s squad rallied from a 14-point deficit to win with a field goal in the dying moments of the game. The Gamecocks have been without starting quarterback Luke Doty so far this season due to a foot injury, but he is expected to start against Georgia on Saturday night.
Doty may return from injury to play against the Bulldogs. Last year, he took over the starting job for the final three games of the season, losing to Missouri, Georgia and Kentucky. Interestingly enough, Doty’s best game came against Georgia, where he went 18-of-22 for 190 yards and a touchdown. Doty has the ability to run the ball, and the Bulldogs face their first quarterback of the season who they will need to monitor on the perimeter.
Edge defender Kingsley Enagbare averaged .75 sacks per game last season, which was the second-highest in the SEC in 2020. The senior has 17 tackles for loss in his career and has seen his sack total increase every year. Enagbare is considered a potential first-round draft pick in 2022.
Running back Kevin Harris led the SEC in rushing in 2020, averaging 113 yards per game. The sophomore back scored five touchdowns against Ole Miss adding to his 16 total scores for the season. After South Carolina was one of the only programs to offer Harris a scholarship, Harris has begun to make a name for himself. While he will split time with Juju McDowell and other running backs, Harris will look to establish the ground game against the Bulldogs.
UGA comes into this game a 31.5-point favorite, the highest difference between the two programs. Especially with the game being in Athens, Georgia is expected to roll over the Gamecocks. South Carolina could cause Georgia some issues with their defensive front. When UGA faced a formidable front against Clemson, its offense struggled. While USC doesn’t have that level of talent on the defensive line, it cannot be overlooked. Additionally, if Doty can return and perform as well as he did last season while adding in a running threat, South Carolina may be able to find more success of offense than Georgia’s previous two opponents.
Georgia still is unsure who will start at quarterback on Saturday. JT Daniels is still healing up and head coach Kirby Smart has noted that Stetson Bennett is dealing with a lower back issue. It is possible that Kearis Jackson will start playing on offense this week, and even fellow receiver Dominick Blaylock has a chance at playing this week as well. UGA’s defense will almost certainly wreak havoc on the Carolina offense.
Don’t expect South Carolina to score a lot of points. Georgia should be able to move the ball against a weak Gamecock secondary, despite them looking decent at times this season. Look for the Bulldogs to hit on some explosive plays downfield. While Georgia found plenty of success on the ground last season, the gut feeling is the offense will air it out more and more this season. Even so, South Carolina should be able to cover the spread because 31.5 points is a lot, especially if Daniels is not playing. While Bennett played great last week, he hit mostly wide-open receivers on his passes due to blown coverages. Regardless, South Carolina’s offense will cause more problems for the Georgia defense. Regardless, unless Georgia shoots itself in the foot repeatedly, a comfortable win should be enjoyed.