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The Saturday Morning Report: News and Notes ahead of Georgia's matchup against South Carolina
Athens, GA — Georgia fans have been waiting for this day for a long time, which is when South Carolina returns to the Classic City.
Two years ago, the Gamecocks came into Sanford Stadium and beat the then-ranked No. 3 Bulldogs 20-17 after former kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed a field goal in double-overtime.
Georgia destroyed South Carolina last season 45-16 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. However, it’s not the same as getting revenge in the home stadium, so Bulldog fans are hopeful that their team can repeat the success of last week’s ass whipping of UAB. Regardless, this is the SEC opener for both teams, and anything can happen.
So, here are some news and notes ahead of Georgia’s matchup against South Carolina.
I’ve been talking to people all week and trying to judge the quarterback situation. Despite some positive news from Kirby Smart on quarterback JT Daniels on Tuesday, I think that backup Stetson Bennett IV gets the start for Georgia on Saturday. Daniels could play if he’s deemed healthy enough, but I just don’t see the coaching staff trotting him out there because Bennett has proved he can ball time and time again. Still, I do think Daniels will return next week and start against Vanderbilt in Nashville.
The matchup that really intrigues me is between South Carolina’s defensive line and Georgia’s offensive line. The Bulldogs’ front five played arguably the best defensive front in the nation two weeks ago in the season opener against Clemson. Georgia was able to bully around the Tigers’ defensive line and not allow them to get any pressure. The Bulldog running backs were able to get enough of a push up front so they could cut through holes. However, last week against UAB, Georgia’s offensive line couldn’t create those same holes. South Carolina returns a solid defensive line and it has a lot of talent. The Gamecocks have several studs in Kingsley Enagbare, Aaron Sterling and Zacch Pickens. So, for Georgia to succeed and move the ball on the ground, its offensive line will have to play better than last week.
Georgia freshman tight end Brock Bowers leads the team in both receptions and receiving yards, respectively. I predicted last week that he would score his first collegiate touchdown, which I was correct, but he ended up adding another one. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound pass-catcher has nine catches for 150 yards and two scores. I don’t think sophomore Darnell Washington will play on Saturday night, so look for the freshman from California to have another great game.
There’s been some positive news about receiver Kearis Jackson, who hasn’t played an offensive snap this season, but has been the team’s punt returner. I think that Jackson could finally see the field on offense today and split reps with backup Ladd McConkey. Bold prediction here: Jackson gets his first receiving touchdown of the year today, or he returns a punt for six. Regardless, I think he makes a difference today, but only if my sources are correct about him finally getting some offensive snaps.
South Carolina quarterback Luke Doty is expected to get his first start today. As Brian Butcher mentioned in his ‘Looking Ahead’ feature about South Carolina, Doty had his best game last season against the Bulldogs. Backup and Oconee County graduate (I am a Warrior alumnus as well) Zeb Noland started the first two games after trading in his clipboard for a jersey and shoulder pads. He did a decent job in relieving Doty, who was dealing with a foot injury. But, I think that Doty will get a majority of the snaps and will test this talented Georgia secondary.
To second the point above, Georgia’s defensive backs will have their hands full dealing with the likes of Josh Vann and Nick Muse. The Gamecock offensive is about as reliable as a gas station condom, so I think that Georgia’s defensive line can limit the opposing run game. Regardless, Doty has some wideouts that can make some plays, especially the tight end, Muse. Look for South Carolina to air it out more if Kevin Harris and Juju McDowell can’t find holes to run through.
Here’s the injury report:
QB - JT Daniels - QUESTIONABLE
QB - Stetson Bennett - IN
WR - George Pickens - OUT
OL - Tate Ratledge - OUT
LB - Quay Walker - PROBABLE
WR - Dominick Blaylock - QUESTIONABLE
TE - Darnell Washington - OUT
DB - Tykee Smith - OUT
WR - Arian Smith - QUESTIONABLE
WR - Kearis Jackson - PROBABLE
LB - Rian Davis - OUT
Quay Walker (Ankle) - IN
PREDICTION: Georgia’s defense will give up its first touchdown of the year against South Carolina on Saturday night. Nevertheless, I think the Bulldogs’ run game will flourish after a letdown performance last week. Zamir White will run for over 100 yards and score his first touchdown on his birthday. Bennett will pick up right where he left off and throw at least two touchdowns against the Gamecocks.
Georgia beats South Carolina 49-10 in Sanford Stadium as Will Muschamp cheers joyfully on the sideline while licking his chops because he got the final laugh.