Sunday, September 9, 2007

South Carolina 16, Georgia 12

(Sabbath Blog #33)

My prediction for this game was Georgia 35, South Carolina 10.

Boy, was I wrong!

My one sentence evaluation of the game: the Gamecocks out-coached and out-played the Dawgs.

UGA opened up trying the same quick screen passes that worked so well last week against Oklahoma State. Carolina snuffed the first attempt, then the second attempt, then the third attempt—you get the idea. Georgia went back to that well over and over and every time it was dry. To Georgia’s credit, they abandoned that approach in the second half but they should have adjusted more quickly. South Carolina was ready for that play and frankly seemed better prepared that Georgia overall.

The Gamecocks also seemed to want the game more. They played exceptionally hard, especially on defense. Georgia had 340 yards in offense but never got into the end zone. You just have to give Carolina credit for playing with energy and enthusiasm.

There were bright spots for Georgia. Brandon Coutu was 4/5 on field goal attempts. Knowshon Moreno had another stellar game, rushing for 104 yards on 14 attempts. The defense buckled down and held USC to only six points in the second half.

But there were more matters of concern. Matthew Stafford reminded us that he is still a young quarterback. While he threw only one interception, and that on a desperation pass on the last play of the game, he was only 19/44 for 213 yards on the night. Several of his passes were poorly thrown; he missed several open receivers. In his defense, he experienced more pressure than he did against Oklahoma State and was sacked three times.

The receivers did not play as well this week, either. Last week they had only one dropped pass; this week they had several. A couple more catches in traffic might have enabled the Dawgs to pull this one out.

The play calling of Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo will come under scrutiny this week. Much has been made of Head Coach Mark Richt’s decision to hand play calling responsibilities over to Bobo. Up until this game the experiment, which began late last season, had gone fine, so a hiccup in one game shouldn’t be too much cause for concern. As I said earlier, Bobo could have adjusted more quickly to the realization that Carolina was on to the screen pass scheme. The two trick plays that the Dawgs attempted both blew up in their faces.

South Carolina has lost five in a row in the series coming in, so maybe they were due. The evil genius Steve Spurrier is a fine football coach and his teams are always ready to play.

Next week, Georgia hosts Western Carolina. Let’s hope there will not be a letdown.

Remember Appalachian State!

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