September 10, 2011
This may be the year for Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks. They have a soft schedule and an established and talented senior quarterback in Stephen Garcia. College football predictions have them finishing on top of the SEC East, and possibly getting into a BCS Bowl game. All that being said they’d better be careful against this hungry and dangerous Georgia Bulldogs team that is fresh off of an embarrassing loss to Boise St in what was essentially a home game.
Spurrier was known as an offense juggernaut when he coached the Florida Gators to several SEC Championships as well as the National Championship in 1996. However, it’s been an entirely differnet story during his tenure with the Gamecocks. Part of the reason is the inability to recruit with the “Big Boys” in the SEC, but it’s mainly due to the emphasis on defense in this conference. Not only has he embraced that attitude, but he’s done a phenomenal job in incorporating that philosophy to a school that has had very little success in its existence. `
South Carolina has sustained a consistent level of defense over the last few seasons, but it’s been an improved offense that has them moving up in the polls. Garcia is now a senior, and has 2 full seasons as the primary signal caller under his belt. Garcia might not have the skills to be considered an NFL prospect, but he is more than capable of orchestrating this offense as well as making key plays when necessary. While Garcia’s passer rating has been high, he will need to cut back on the mistakes this season. The staple of the USC offense is running the ball, and that’s what will make or break them in 2011. Marcus Lattimore is widely considered by NCAA football experts to be one of the best running backs in division 1 football. He maybe just a sophomore, but he’s already shown us that he has the tools to have a Heisman trophy type of year. Lattimore finished the 2010 season with almost 1200 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. With 3 touchdowns in USC’s opening game against East Carolina he’s well on his way to blowing away last years’ numbers.
It’s hard to fault the Bulldogs for falling to the Nation’s 5th ranked team. The Broncos have been shredding all opponents for 5 years under head coach Chris Petersen. Typically teams suffer a letdown following their first loss of the season however this Georgia team has the talent and coaching to bounce back quickly.
Aaron Murray may turn some head this year. He has a tremendous freshman year in which he threw for over 3000 yards and 24 touchdowns. More impressively he had just 8 interceptions. A passer rating of 154.5 ranked 14th amongst division 1 quarterbacks last season and there’s a good chance he may only get better. Richard Samuel was named starting running back, but nagging injuries may allow freshman Isaiah Crowell to take over. At the end of the day it will come down to Murray’s arm and the receiving group to keep this team at the top of the SEC and in contention for a BCS bid.
South Carolina is currently listed as a small 3 point favorite on the road for this contest. With a line that small this game can be considered a coin flip. There may be some more appealing games this weekend, but I doubt that many will be as exciting as this one. Tune in as the Bulldogs look to bounce back with a huge win over the 12th ranked team in the country.