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South Carolina Figures to Shut Down Georgia

Defense Key in This SEC Football Affair

9/12/09

The Georgia Bulldogs are a -6.5 favorite at most sportsbooks over the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier. The total on the game has been holding steady at 38 in what figures to be a game where defense will be they key.

Things didn’t go quite as expected for the #21 Georgia Bulldogs in their first game of the year. They had to travel to play in a hostile environment against the Oklahoma State Cowboys and were soundly defeated 24-10. They were unable to stop Dez Bryant, arguably the best WR in the country. He made the secondary look silly posting 2 TDs and 77 yards. Their opponent for this week is South Carolina, a team that was locked in a defensive battle last week with North Carolina State. They came out on top 7-3. Last year’s bout between these teams resulted in a 14-7 win for Georgia. Both teams would love to win their first SEC game, and this one will be exciting to watch.

Backers of the Georgia Bulldogs have reason to be concerned after last week. Many expected good play from new QB Joe Cox, but got just the opposite. He was lackluster completing 15/30 passes for 162 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. That was against a team that ranked 93rd in total defense just one year ago. There is no reason he shouldn’t have put up better numbers. If he doesn’t improve this week it could be bad news for the Bulldogs. The running game wasn’t much better, picking up 95 total yards for an average of 3.2 yards per carry. The defense did well to give 24 points considering that the Cowboys have one of the most prolific offenses in the country.

I’m very worried about Georgia’s offensive power after last week. Will they really be able to overcome losing QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knownshon Moreno? Both were first round picks in the NFL Draft, and Georgia certainly hasn’t made me think so yet. The Bulldogs have been very successful under Coach Mark Richt, and have always done well running the ball. They typically get 2,000-2,300 yards per season. Establishing the running game with vigor would go a long way towards helping the Bulldogs regain some confidence after last week.

The South Carolina Gamecocks boasted one of the best defenses in the country last year under Coach Steve Spurrier. They ranked 13th in total defense at 291.9 yards per game and 2nd in passing at 159.2 yards per game. Eric Norwood is a prized LB for the Gamecocks, and he almost entered the NFL draft this past year. It will be up to him to keep the intensity high and the morale of his teammates up. Norwood is 4 shy of the school sack record with 22. He is an excellent player. Defense shouldn’t be a problem for this team. A better question is, will they be able to put points on the board against Georgia?

They will need production from a running game that has been weak in recent memory, and help from a new and inexperienced QB. The offensive line gave up 39 sacks last year and needless to say they won’t go very far if they let Georgia get to QB Garcia on every play. South Carolina needs for the young Garcia to step up and have a big game. If he can throw for big yardage then the Gamecocks could be capable of pulling the upset. If the Georgia defense doesn’t take him seriously then they will pay for it.

As we are writing this, this game has just moved across the board. It was a solid 7 across the board but is now 6.5. You can be sure the move we just saw was the result of sharp action and we agree with the move. We'd naturally rather have +7 on this game but will still take South Carolina +6.5 in a came they can surely win straight up.
 

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