Georgia vs. South Carolina: 5 Unsung Bulldogs to Watch
We all know that players like Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and Jarvis Jones are going to need to show up big against South Carolina Saturday night in order for the Bulldogs to leave Columbia 6-0.
But football is a team game and Georgia is going to need a complete team effort to halt the Gamecocks two-game winning streak against the Bulldogs and take control of the SEC East.
Here are five Bulldogs not in the national spotlight that need to step up and contribute if Georgia is going to stay among the ranks of the unbeaten, and keep their BCS title hopes alive.
A former walk on, Merritt Hall was awarded a scholarship just weeks before the 2012 season started and is now the starting fullback for the 'Dawgs.
Although not the biggest of guys (5’11”, 238-pounds), what Hall lacks in size he makes up for in effort.
Hall has only one carry on the season, going for five yards, but he has excelled as a lead blocker for the Bulldogs.
While Georgia runs a lot of plays out of the shotgun, Hall is going to be needed when called upon to open holes for running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and help slow down a lethal South Carolina pass rush.
Cornerback Damian Swann has come on strong in his sophomore year, notching 26 tackles through the first five games of the season. Swann also got his first career interception for the Bulldogs last week against Tennessee.
The Bulldogs will need another strong performance from Swann against the Gamecocks on Saturday. He matches up well against the South Carolina receivers. Standing only 5’11”, Swann still has an height advantage over starting wide receivers Ace Sanders (5'8") and Bruce Ellington (5'9").
Swann may very well return punts against South Carolina as well. Malcolm Mitchell has struggled with decision making in fielding punts, so look for Georgia to make a change there. Swann does have experience returning punts for the Bulldogs this season.
With Michael Bennett suffering a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee during practice this week, look for Chris Conley to see more time at wide receiver this season.
Georgia has had a lot of success running four and five-wide receiver sets, so look for Conley to be on the field against the Gamecocks.
South Carolina will most likely key in on Malcolm Mitchell, Marlon Brown and Tavarres King, which should allow Conley opportunities to make plays downfield.
With the speed that Aaron Murray gets through his progressions, if Conley can get open, he will have the ball thrown his way.
With 36 total tackles, Amarlo Herrera is the leading tackler for the Bulldogs this season.
But with Alec Ogletree returning from suspension from last week's game against Tennessee, Herrera has been shifted to the Mike linebacker position and will quarterback the Georgia defense.
Herrera excels at stopping the run, and that skill will be at a premium against South Carolina’s star running back Marcus Lattimore.
In these teams’ past two meetings, Lattimore has absolutely owned the Bulldogs, rushing for 358 yards and three touchdowns combined.
The Bulldogs will need strong play from Herrera and the rest of the front seven to slow down Lattimore on Saturday.
Tight end Arthur Lynch led the Bulldogs in receiving yards last week against Tennessee with 75 yards on only three catches.
Georgia is going to need another big game from Lynch against South Carolina.
While Lynch will be a valuable asset catching balls, it’s his blocking skills that the Bulldogs will most need against the Gamecocks.
South Carolina has two of the nation’s best defensive ends in Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. Tackles Kenarious Gates and John Theus are going to need help from Lynch—double teaming these two—sealing off the edge for the running backs and in pass protection for Murray.