SEC Football Q&A: Will Georgia's O or South Carolina's D Make the Difference?
Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE
Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email.
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And we're off:
@barrettsallee will South Carolina's defense or UGA's offense be the difference in the East?— Ken Sanders (@kenosando) October 4, 2012
It's going to be Georgia's offense, and it's going to be a direct result of the ability of Bulldog running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
I picked Georgia to win in a shootout, and that's primarily due to Gurley and Marshall's ability to not only hit home runs, but get Georgia to 3rd and short situations. If Georgia can do that, it would minimize the strength of the South Carolina defense, which is its pass rush.
The Gamecocks lead the SEC in sacks with 22, and staying out of obvious passing downs is huge for Georgia this weekend on the road in Columbia.
Some will point to the loss of Bulldog wide receiver Michael Bennett as a factor in the game, and it certainly will be. But if there's any spot on the depth chart that Georgia can withstand season-ending injuries, it's at wide receiver, especially now that Malcolm Mitchell is going to be primarily an offensive player moving forward.
@barrettsallee What SEC West team is poised to make a 2nd half run?— Davis (@DMSAU09) October 4, 2012
This may sound crazy, but probably the winner of the Arkansas vs. Auburn game this weekend.
That's borderline nuts considering the way that each of the two teams have looked so far this season, but after this week, the schedules for both ease up quite a bit.
Auburn has at least a little bit of momentum after it looked like a functional defense two weeks ago vs. LSU. The Tigers have games at Ole Miss, at Vanderbilt and at home vs. New Mexico State and Alabama A&M left on the roster. Win this weekend and take care of those games, and all of the sudden Auburn is in a bowl game.
Not many people thought that was possible after watching this team during September.
Arkansas is probably more of a stretch, mostly because there's nothing to suggest that they are capable of turning things around. But if they do, games against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tulsa following this weekend's matchup could certainly help Arkansas build some momentum.
Let's first take care of the "Gurshall" nickname.
Georgia fans: Ease up on the comparisons to Hershel Walker. That hasn't worked for three decades and it won't work now.
But Bennett's loss is going to be felt in the running game. He was a good blocker that was a big part of the reason that Marshall and Gurley have become home run threats.
Malcolm Mitchell's return will help now that he has returned from the defensive side of the ball, as will the leadership of Tavarres King.
We'll see how much of an issue it is for the Bulldogs this weekend, because if Marshall and Gurley don't have the 10-and-20-yard runs that Georgia fans have grown accustomed to, then the absence of Bennett may be bigger than initially thought.
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