Georgia leads the all-time series against South Carolina 45-14-2 and has won 7 of the last 9 meetings as well as two in a row. But don't let those lopsided numbers fool you, South Carolina (especially recently) has been a tough game for the Bulldogs. Over the last 6 years the average margin of victory for Georgia is 6.5 points. Last year was a wild game that Georgia somehow won 41-37. Here are my keys to victory for the Georgia Bulldogs:
Win The Turnover Battle
Georgia's turnover issues from 2009 have been well documented. Against South Carolina last year Georgia turned the ball over 3 times and only got 1 turnover in return. It would be almost impossible to expect red-shirt freshman Aaron Murray to go into a hostile environment in his second game and not make any mistakes. Because of that I don't think Georgia has to play a perfect game, they just have to win the turnover battle. Get the ball more times then they give it. Last year Georgia only won the turnover margin battle in 3 games (Auburn, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M). An interesting side note is that both the Auburn and GT games were played without A.J. Green, like this one will, as he was injured. Against UL last week, Georgia made more interceptions (3) then they did in any single game last year. It will be very interesting to see how Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense does against the Gamecocks. Put pressure on Garcia and make him make bad decisions.
Don't Commit Stupid Penalties
Georgia ranked 106th last year in penalty yards per game with 67.5. Most of those came at times that we really didn't need a penalty. Last week Georgia did a pretty good job of not committing stupid penalties (although the offense did have back-to-back penalties on one drive that forced a punt). Georgia needs to play smart and disciplined and not give South Carolina any extra yardage. Last year in the South Carolina game Georgia committed 13 penalties for 108 yards.
Better Offensive Line Play
Despite rushing for 5.0 yards per carry last week the Offensive Line looked out of sync and wasn't creating big holes for the running backs. The most likely reason for this is that several of the offensive linemen battled injuries this fall and the unit was not able to practice together and get a good rhythm going. The offensive line will be key for Georgia in this game because the South Carolina fans will be bringing the noise so they must put that out of their minds and also make sure they are creating room for the RBs and protecting their red-shirt freshmen RBs.
Solid Play From The Receivers
With the best receiver in college football not playing in this game it makes sense that some of the Georgia receivers need to step up. Nobody needs to go out and have an "A.J. Green" moment or type of game but they need to play solid and need to make catches when the ball is thrown to them. Last week in A.J.'s absence 10 different players made receptions. Kris Durham, back from an injury last week, had the best game with 5 catches for 83 yards and 1 TD. Former QB Logan Gray made his debut at receiver by catching 2 passes including a TD from Hutson Mason on his first play as a college QB. Sophomore Marlon Brown, a former 5-Star recruit from Memphis, added two catches as did TE Orson Charles. So right there are 4 guys who have the ability to step up and make plays. Add to that TE Aron White, WR Rantavious Wooten, WR Israel Troop and CB Branden Smith and you have a talent group of guys who can make the plays Georgia needs to win. Oh yeah, I didn't mention that starter Tavarres King is back after serving his one-game suspension. King only tallied 18 receptions last year but he did so at over 20 yards per catch. This is King's chance to shine and make a name for himself.