September 10, 2010

Preview: Georgia at South Carolina

WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

TIME: Saturday, Noon

RECORDS: Georgia 1-0, 0-0; South Carolina 1-0, 0-0


HEAD COACHES: Georgia - Mark Richt (91-27-0, 10th year); Steve Spurrier (36-28-0, seventh year at South Carolina, 178-68-2 overall).

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Georgia - QB Aaron Murray (RFr., 6-0, 209), RB Caleb King (Jr., 5-11, 217), TE Orson Charles (Soph., 6-3, 240), RB Washaun Ealey (So., 6-0, 212), WR Tavarres King (RSo., 6-0, 184), OL Clint Boling (Sr., 6-5, 315), K Blair Walsh (Jr., 5-10, 183), LB Justin Houston (Jr., 6-3, 258), LB Darryl Gamble (Sr., 6-2, 250), LB Akeem Dent (Sr., 6-2, 233), LB Christian Robinson (RSoph., 6-2, 226), CB Brandon Boykin (Jr., 5-10, 183), S Bacarri Rambo (RSoph., 6-0, 211), S Jakar Hamilton (Jr., 6-2, 203), CB Vance Cuff (Sr., 5-11, 177), P Drew Butler (Jr., 6-2, 210). South Carolina - QB Stephen Garcia (Jr., 6-2, 227), RB Marcus Lattimore (Fr., 6-0, 218), WR Alshon Jeffery (So., 6-4, 233), WR Tori Gurley (Sp., 6-5, 230), TE Patrick DeMarco (Sr., 6-1, 243), DT Ladi Ajiboye (Sr., 6-1, 290), DE Cliff Matthews (Sr., 6-4, 268), CB Chris Culliver (Sr., 6-1, 201), FS Akeem Auguste (Jr., 5-10, 191), K-P Spencer Lanning (Sr., 5-11, 192).

SATURDAY'S GAME: After Saturday, Georgia and South Carolina will have met 63 times in football, the second-longest series for the Gamecocks behind their one with Clemson which stands at 102. … Seven of the last meetings between the two schools have been decided by seven points or less. In addition, the winning team has failed to surpass the 20-point plateau in five of the last six games.

BACK IN THE FOLD: Although wide receiver A.J. Green is suspended after this week's ruling by the NCAA, the Bulldogs welcome back wide receiver Tavarres King, running back Washaun Ealey and safety Alec Ogletree who served suspensions last week against Louisiana-Lafayette. Tight end Weslye Saunders and offensive tackle Jarriel King remain suspended for South Carolina. On the injury front, the Bulldogs did not suffer any major injuries and no one is listed as questionable for Saturday's contest who played in last week's game. Linebacker Richard Samuel (leg) and backup center Chris Burnette (concussion) remain out.

MURRAY LOOKS FOR REPEAT: Murray started his first game for the Bulldogs and led them to a 55-7 win over Louisiana in the 2010 opener. He finished with four TDs (3 passing, 1 rushing), going 17-for-26 for 160 yards with one INT. Murray completed passes to nine different receivers as Georgia scored its most points since 2004 (62-17, Kentucky).

LINEBACKERS PLAY KEY ROLE: Bulldog linebackers played an important role last week as Dent tied for a team-high six tackles, including a sack, against the Ragin' Cajuns. The Bulldogs' top returning tackler from 2009, junior inside Marcus Dowtin, tallied four tackles in the contest while Robinson also started his first game as a Bulldog and finished with three stops.

PREDICTION: Georgia hasn't received much love from the national media as most of the experts out there are picking South Carolina to move to 2-0 on the year. Many point to the Bulldogs' loss of Green, but some aren't quite yet buying into Georgia's defense. Granted, everyone will learn a lot more about the Bulldog D Saturday as it focuses its attention on Stephen Garcia who caused all sorts of issues for the Bulldogs in last year's 41-37 victory. It will be interesting to see how Grantham's newly structured defense will fare, not only against the versatile QB, but also against Lattimore and a bevy of talented wide receivers. For Georgia, the game comes down to this: Getting pressure on Garcia, force a turnover or two while on the offensive side get the run game going. Having Ealey back is going to be a key. So what's going to happen? After exploding for 55 and 41 points, respectfully, look for Georgia and South Carolina to find the going on offense a good deal tougher than they did a week ago. Hence, this one's coming down to the kicking game. Lanning is one of the best in the country, but Walsh proved last year he has few peers. Earlier this week, Walsh joked with UGASports that he likes it when opposing fans "give him the finger." Saturday in Columbia, Walsh's leg will prove the difference in a Bulldog win. Prediction - Georgia 16, South Carolina 13.

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