COLUMBIA, S.C.—Welcome to Williams-Brice Stadium, where a top-10 team from the SEC East is sure to suffer its first loss of the season tonight.
The question is will No. 5 Georgia or No. 6 South Carolina be left standing?
There is no question that the atmosphere should be rocking.
“They’ll come out there crunked and hyped,” Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley said. “We’ve just got to go out there and do what we do.”
Said senior receiver Marlon Brown: “The crowd is crazy, it’s really loud. The cadence is thrown off a little bit. It’s a fun place to play though if you like football and you like playing college football.”
Brown was speaking based on his only trip here in 2010 when Georgia lost 17-6. The Gamecocks won again last season 45-42 inAthens.
“Naturally your friends and everyone around town are like `That’s the one you have to win,’” linebacker Christian Robinson said. “In the back of our minds in the offseason, we know this is one we could have had last year, but we let slip away. Special teams and some miscues in other areas. So this one’s been circled.”
How big is this game? Big enough that if Aaron Murray were injured while the game was still in the balance, you probably would see the redshirt come off backup quarterback Hutson Mason. Don’t think that would have been the case against Florida Atlantic orBuffalo.
At least for the first time this season, we don’t have to check Georgia’s players coming out to the field pregame to check on players expected to be suspended or coming off suspension.
The Bulldogs had everyone back on defense last week, but the showing left something to be desired.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones pretty much scoffed on Twitter at an ESPN.com story this week with the headline “Georgiais not a top-5 team,” with the sub-headline “Poor all-around defense, other flaws make the Bulldogs overrated.”
This will be the first game at South Carolina for redshirt freshman tight end Jay Rome.
His father, Stan, played basketball and football at Clemson.
His hatred for the Gamecocks might rival that of Georgiafans.
“I’ll bet he does,” Rome said with a laugh. “I’m sure he does.”
ESPN’s Lee Corso was mentioned in both Athens and Columbia this week.
It wasn’t for the promotional spot running on ESPN in which Corso surprises Mark Richt with his own dive.
Corso, known for donning a mascot’s head when making a pick each week on College GameDay, said in 2005 that he didn’t think Steve Spurrier would win an SEC or national title atSouth Carolina.
“I know our fans are fired up,” Spurrier said. “I encourage our fans to be nice to Lee Corso. Lee Corso has been nice to us. I really believe he pulls for South Carolinaa lot. He’s a good guy.”
Georgia’s Michael Bennett had this to say before he was lost for the season with a torn ACL: “I’m sure if Lee Corso picks against us, that would be a little incentive like `All right, we’ll show this old guy.”
By the way, Corso did pick against Georgia today on the air earlier today.
Some other items:
–Murray has his doubters. After leading Georgia to a 48-3 rout of Vanderbilt in which he completed 18 of 24 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, former South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said he wasn’t sold that Murray would lead Georgia to a championship.
“Nah,” Holtz said. “He’s got to go to South Carolina and that’s going to be a little bit more difficult than Vanderbilt.”
Murray sounded ready for what’s to come tonight.
“I get a little nervous before every game and work my way out,” he said. ” I think I’m ready to go. I think I’m mentally and physically ready.”
–Will Friend is in his second season at Georgiaafter serving as offensive line coach under former Bulldogs offensive coordinator Neil Callaway at UAB. The Gamecocks rang up six sacks against a UAB line that included two players that Friend recruited.
“They had a good day on them,” Friend said. “They’ve had a good day on everybody so far.”
Georgia hopes its line can hold up today against Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor and company.
“They’ve got tremendous length, they’ve got good quickness,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “They both can get off the snap count. That’s going to be a big advantage for them playing on the road with crowd noise so it’s going to be hard to use a lot of different snaps counts. That’s going to be big for them.”
Murray is trying not to focus so much on who will be chasing him down.
“If you’re worried about your protection and who they have defensively then I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said. “My job is to focus downfield, focus on the coverage and focus on putting the ball right in the dude’s head and making sure they’re catching the ball.”
–Nothing major on the travel roster for Georgia. Backup guard/center Hunter Long, coming off a broken foot, made the trip. Among those not here: freshman receiver Blake Tibbs, fullback Zander Ogletree, inside linebacker Brandon Burrows, defenisve end Sterling Bailey and offensive lineman Zach Debell.
–Georgia hopes its third time going up against Marcus Lattimore is better than the first two times when the Gamecocks tailback gashed the Bulldogs.
“For three quarters we played pretty good football and then when it mattered we kind of blew it,” Robinson said This year our strength has been the fourth quarter. We have to get better in the first through third. If we can do that and slow down Lattimore and Shaw, we can be successful and win.”
–Looks like nose guard John Jenkins has some sort of wrap on his left wrist/hand. Not sure what the deal is, but looks like he is playing.
–Just got back from the field. Didn’t seem to be much energy as the Missouri game, but there wasn’t that “Old man football” comment to get them jazzed up. Richt spent a good bit of time chatting with Kirk Herbsteit as team warmed up. I saw former Georgia defensive end David Pollack on the sideline as well. He was out of his GameDay attire and dressed down in a cap and shirt.
–Please follow me in-game at Twitter.com/marcweiszer