Greetings for the first time this season from Sanford Stadium, where Georgia begins SEC play today against South Carolina and one Steve Spurrier in what’s already a crucial showdown.
“It’s a huge game,” offensive tackle John Theus said. “Whoever wins this game has a huge chance to win the East. Not saying whoever wins this game will win the East because there are a lot of teams out there who are good as well, but if you win this game, you put yourself in a good position to win the East. We know it’s a big game and we know we’re going to have to be on our `A’ game to have a chance against this good team.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt has hit it hard this week in urging fans to bring the noise, including this tweet on Friday morning: “Our crowd can cause the opponent to jump offside call time out be late off the ball have a delay of game and miss an assignment. WE NEED YOU”
And this from tight ends coach John Lilly: “Bulldog Nation it’s your job to ROCK The Hedges and our job to ROLL Between The Hedges! Let’s both handle our jobs tomorrow with excellence!”
Richt, of course, knows the SEC implications of this one can’t be underplayed.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s on the forefront of our thinking and I’m sure it is with South Carolina.”
Georgia spent Tuesday and Wednesday practicing in full pads to improve its tackling and blocking.
“I expect a physical game like that,” Theus said.
Yes, that one word physical kept being said by Georgia players this week.
“I just know it’s going to be a physical game,” fullback Quayvon Hicks said. “That’s what we have our mindset for. Looking at film from year’s past, it’s always been a physical game between us and South Carolina. Not only us, but all SEC opponents. They’re going to be ready and we’re going to be ready.”
–Georgia tailback Todd Gurley rushed for a career-high 154 yards against Clemson last week, but was held to a career-low 39 yards on 13 carries against South Carolina last year.
“They’re a physical defense,” Gurley said. “Everybody knows they’re going to play tough and run to the ball. You’re going to hit one cut and get up field. If not then you’re going to get tackled.”
South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward told reporters in Columbia about Gurley: “I told the guys on the perimeter we can’t hit him high. You hit him high, he’s going to keep going. We’ve got to play on his ankles.”
—-We’ve hit Jadeveon Clowney’s impact on this game hard this week.
He just arrrived with his teammates for a pregame walk on the field.
Kenarious Gates is expected to draw the bulk of the work against Clowney.
“Every snap is a battle,” Richt said. “You’re going to win some and lose some, but we think he gives us our best shot to succeed.”
“He can line up anywhere,” Theus said. “Against UNC, he lined up inside, too. Last year he stayed over on the left side, but who knows what they’re going to do this year.”
–Georgia players tried to put the Clemson loss behind them despite the disappointment.
“Our season isn’t predicated on that one game,” wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley said. “It’s a long road. It’s a long, tough road for us.”
–Tight end Jay Rome (ankle) isn’t dressed out to play today. Neither is wide receiver Jonathon Rumph (hamstring), who missed last week’s game also. Linebacker Chase Vasser (ankle) also isn’t dressed out. Cornerback Kennar Johnson also isn’t dressed out.
–A sign of a redshirt coming probably is that freshman quarterback Brice Ramsey isn’t listed on the dress roster today. Other freshmen not on the dress roster: linebacker Davin Bellamy, receiver Uriah LeMay, tailback A.J. Turman, defensive lineman De’Andre Johnson, offensive linemen Josh Cardiello and Aulden Bynum and defensive lineman John Atkins. Also redshirt freshman Greg Pyke isn’t listed.
–Junior college transfer defensive lineman Toby Johnson played 10 snaps against Clemson.
“It was pretty exciting out there,” he said. “The atmosphere was crazy.”
The play even from him could have been better.
“We missed a lot of big tackles, including me,” Johnson said. “I missed a big sack. We’ve just got to wrap up, keep our head up.”
He’s expecting more work today.
“I feel this game right here is going to be a really big game for me,” he said. “It’s going to be my thing. This right here can be one my coming out games. I’m starting to get better with the plays. I feel like I should play a lot more.”
–Richt on what he expects from South Carolina under Spurrier: “You’re going to see a defense that plays extremely hard and fast and physical and an offensive team that isn’t going to try to trick you. They’re going to pound you, pound you, fake it and go deep. Then if they have to drop back and throw it, he’s as good as anybody at that.”
–Kolton Houston was announced as the starter at left guard. That means Theus is starting at right tackle today.
Houston got a scouting report on South Carolina defensive linemen from John Heck of North Carolina, a good friend from high school. In 2011, Theus played left tackle and Heck right tackle at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla.
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