For the second straight week, Georgia had its share of special teams issues, though this time it didn’t cost the Bulldogs a win.
(AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto)
Players and coaches celebrate on the Georgia sidelines during the second half the NCAA college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.
A week ago at Clemson, Nathan Theus botched a field-goal snap late in the third quarter that would’ve tied the game. It wound up a difference-maker as the Bulldogs fell to Clemson by three points, 38-35.
On Saturday against South Carolina, Collin Barber muffed a punt snap, which gave the Gamecocks the ball — and major momentum.
Barber was credited with a fumble and a 14-yard loss, which put the Gamecocks on the Georgia 18. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw completed a touchdown pass to Nick Jones on the very next play, tying the game at 17. In the span of just two minutes, the Gamecocks rallied from a two-touchdown deficit.
“We’ve got to straighten that out, we can’t have that issue,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
QB Connor Shaw
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said that he was more pleased with his unit’s performance this week, but that it needs to improve against the run.
The Bulldogs allowed 226 rush yards against South Carolina, 75 of which were credited to Shaw. It was the second straight week Georgia faced a dual-threat quarterback, though it held Clemson’s Tajh Boyd to 42 yards, with a 3.2 yard per carry average.
Grantham said the defense cleaned up some of its tackling issues it had against Clemson and that Shaw’s success stemmed from his ability to maneuver after escaping the pocket. He said that not many of his runs weren’t necessarily first option reads.
“He kind of chooses to tuck it and take off running opposed to throwing it down the field,” Grantham said. “Obviously it’s an issue. At times, we played the way we needed to play. At others, we didn’t and he got outside.”
South Carolina tailback Mike Davis also had a productive afternoon. He briefly left the game in the third quarter with an injury but returned to finish with 149 yards and a touchdown.
The Gamecocks were riding a four game streak of out-rushing Georgia heading into Saturday’s game. That ended, however, as the Bulldogs gained just one more yard on the ground this time (227 to South Carolina’s 226).
Richt gets aggressive with play-calling
Richt said he knew that the Bulldogs needed aggressive play-calling in their first two games against top-10 opponents.
And in most instances, it paid off.
Richt called for a fake punt early against Clemson that shifted the game’s momentum despite Georgia eventually losing.
On Saturday, Georgia responded to South Carolina’s strong opening with a five-play drive for a touchdown. Richt called for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, and Georgia’s Blake Sailors recovered it.
Seven plays later, Georgia faced a fourth and 13 at the South Carolina 31, just a tad out of kicker Patrick Beless’ range.
Richt went for it, and again, it paid off with a 24-yard strike to Justin Scott-Wesley. Georgia scored four plays later and took a 14-point lead.
“If we get a little something going early, we’re going to have success that day,” Richt said.
MORE COVERAGE OF GEORGIA’S WIN OVER SOUTH CAROLINA