The Georgia Bulldogs went into Columbia this afternoon as an underdog and came up short against a surprising South Carolina running attack. From a Georgia perspective (which I will provide you now, I'm sure our Gamecocks blogger will put up some South Carolina thoughts later) this was a tough loss because I don't think we lost to a better team. That being said, I'm not going to get on here and talk about how much better Georgia is. Actually, I think the teams looked pretty evenly matched.
South Carolina dominated the football in the first half and won the time of possession battle by keeping the ball almost twice as long as Georgia. In the first half South Carolina's offensive line's new schemes really bothered the Georgia defense and the Georgia defense coupled that with some poor tackling. Hats off to Spurrier for scrapping his passing attack almost completely and dedicating his team to the run in almost a Dooley-esque way.
The second half was a different story. Georgia went into half-time and made the adjustments necessary and except for one drive giving up a FG held the South Carolina offense basically in check in the second half. The pivotal moment of the game came in the third quarter. Georgia was driving, Aaron Murray had just hit Kris Durham on a 55 yard bomb down to the Gamecocks 10 yard line. Washaun Ealey then took a hand-off and fumbled the ball on an unforced error. He was hit on the play but it didn't appear to be in the area of the ball. This was the play of the game without a doubt. In the back of mind I wonder if he would have even been in the game if Caleb King was healthy. Ealey is the better runner of the two but Caleb is usually in the game in the red zone (Caleb had 7 rushing TDs to Ealey's 3 last year). That one play just changed the entire complexion of the game. If Georgia scores a TD on that drive it's 14-12 with a decision to go for 1 or 2 on the point after. If Georgia scores a FG on that drive it's 14-9 and puts a lot of added pressure on South Carolina.
With this loss it really puts Georgia behind the game in the SEC because Georgia know has a very dangerous offensive football team coming in against the Bobby "Yellow Coward" Petrino and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Much like last year, Georgia will come into this game tested knowing more about their team and the Razorbacks will come into this game after feeding off of two patsies. Arkansas will be a dangerous team because they can put up a bunch of points and as we found out this week Georgia might struggle to find points (especially with A.J. and potentially Caleb out). Petrino should watch his back though because I heard Lawyer Milloy is going to be in Athens and is still looking for him.
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Some other notes/thoughts:
- When did they change the rule in college football making it legal to hit a punt returner prior to them catching the ball?
- I remain very impressed with Aaron Murray. In his first game in the SEC, in a hostile environment, he played a good game (14 of 21 for 192 yds) and outplayed his counter-part Stephen Garcia.
- The Offensive line once again did a not-so-good job run blocking. Overall, I thought they did a solid job in pass protection (until the end of the game) but they just aren't opening up holes the size of those made by the Carolina line in the first half.
- Justin Houston is a beast. He had 2 or 3 sacks and a forced fumble. He is a force in our new defense.
- Speaking of our new defense, we really have to get bigger up front. We got pushed around today by the Carolina Oline (although we did look a lot better in the 2nd half against the run).
- I was impressed today with Kris Durham and Logan Gray but was disappointed that Tavarres King didn't make himself more of a factor in the passing game. Also, where are the TEs? I didn't watch the game closely enough to see if we are keeping them in more than not in the passing game but Orson and Aron White should be a force in the passing game and they just weren't used enough today.