Since 2011, Georgia is 2-3 vs South Carolina and has lost those games by an average margin of 11.3 points per game.
The Bulldogs are coming off of an emotional letdown last week in Athens, that saw the team lose on a last second “Hail Mary” to Tennessee. The Bulldogs played very well in the first half of the game and allowed Tennessee back into the game with the lack of converting key third down situations. Georgia converted 5 of 14 third down attempts in the loss to Tennessee and must do a better job this weekend to pick up the win. Entering this game with South Carolina on Saturday, the Bulldogs are converting 38% on third down situations.
Georgia is averaging 193 rushing yards per game and passing for 215 yards through the air this season. The offense is averaging 26 points per game. Last year, the Bulldogs averaged 26 points per game which was their lowest total since prior to the 2008 season.
Quarterback Jacob Eason has show glimpses of greatness, however, has shown a tendency to look down receivers in his progressions. On the season, Eason has completed 53% of his passes for 991 yards with 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Running back Nick Chubb is coming off a 181 rushing yard performance against the Volunteers and will be counted on to take the pressure off of Eason on the road. Chubb is leading the team with 425 rushing yards averaging 5.0 yards per carry with 3 touchdowns.
The offensive line is the key issue for the offense. Entering this game against the Gamecocks, the unit has allowed 15 sacks through the first 5 games. They must be able to protect Eason on the road and allow him time to locate his wide receivers.
Wide receiver Isiah McKenzie leads the team with 24 receptions for 344 yards with 4 touchdowns. Terry Goodwin is second on the team with 9 receptions for 179 yards. The Bulldogs lack the big play ability to stretch teams “over the top” due to the lack of inexperience at the wide receiver and quarterback positions.
Georgia is struggling with growing pains from a new head coach, offensive coordinator and freshman quarterback. In order to win this game, the offense must be able to stretch the Gamecocks deep to open up running lanes for Chubb and the rest of the Bulldogs running backs.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are allowing 30 points per game. The defense is giving up 137 rushing yards per game and 240 passing yards per game. Georgia has struggled in pass coverage this season and in comparison to last year (156), is allowing almost 90 yards more per game in 2016.
Another cause for the defense has to be sack total. Through the first five games, the Bulldogs have recorded 6 sacks which is one of the worst units in FBS. Last year, the Bulldogs recorded 21 total sacks, which ranked 97th of 127 teams in FBS. The defense must get pressure on the road and force South Carolina into long third down situations.
The Bulldogs are +3 in turnover margin on the 2016 season.
The Gamecocks are averaging 14 points per game and have had problems running the football consistently. Entering this game, South Carolina is rushing for 104 yards on the ground and passing for 197 yards through the air.
Quarterback Brandon Mcllwain completed 52% of his passes for 567 yards with 2 touchdowns and one interception. He has raw athletic ability and must show more poise in the pocket. He has great mobility and can throw on the run. South Carolina will have to find ways to utilize his skill set to allow him to ease into the role of leader of the team.
Quarterback Perry Orth is the more experienced quarterback for head coach Will Muschamp and against Texas A&M last week, he completed 11 fo 18 passes for 138 yards. Orth has shown the ability to throw short to intermediate throws very well, however, has struggled with his reads and progressions with deep passes.
The offensive line has allowed 11 sacks through 5 games and must do a better job in protecting the Gamecocks quarterbacks. However, the high number of sacks can be partially attributed to the offense being in third down and long situations which makes the team one dimensional.
Tight end Hayden Hurst leads the team with 24 receptions for 302 yards while freshman wide receiver Bryan Edwards is second on the team with 17 receptions for 223 yards. South Carolina is converting 29% of their third down situations and cannot afford to do that on Saturday night if they are to get the victory.
Defensively, the Gamecocks are allowing 18 points per game and are giving up 202 rushing yards per game along with 201 passing yards per game. The team has recorded 10 sacks through the first five games and look for Will Muschamp to dial up blitz packages to put the pressure on Eason early to force turnovers.
South Carolina did a great job last week in forcing Texas A&M into working down the field methodically. Look for the same type of game plan against the Bulldogs.
South Carolina is +3 in turnover margin entering this game.
TUNE INTO THE FULL PREVIEW OF THIS GAME ON SATURDAY FROM 10-12PM EST