Georgia and South Carolina both struggled in their opening games of the year, which means each side should look to improve before battling in this SEC matchup.
The Bulldogs lost their high-profile Week 1 game against Clemson, falling 38-35 while giving up five touchdowns to Tajh Boyd. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks came through with a 27-10 victory over North Carolina, although it was still a less-than-impressive showing against an inferior opponent.
Both squads are better than what they showed in Week 1. This game will come down to which team can make the bigger adjustments against the conference rival.
Here are the things that each team should focus on in the upcoming match.
Get Constant Pressure on Quarterback
The best thing South Carolina has going for it is its defensive line. Jadeveon Clowney is the most dominant defensive player in college football while Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles are also among the best at their positions.
These players helped the team total three sacks and five quarterback hits against North Carolina.
However, the team is still capable of more. Clowney appeared to take plays off during the game, and he was unable to do much against the constant double-teams. Against a better offensive line this week, the unit could struggle to make an impact.
Putting the pressure on Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray will be the key to the game. He struggles when he is forced to make quick decisions. Simply getting into the backfield could lead to turnovers.
For this to happen, though, it will require a more consistent pass rush throughout all four quarters.
More Efficiency from Connor Shaw
Connor Shaw might be the most underrated quarterback in the SEC. In a conference with stars like Murray, AJ McCarron and Johnny Manziel, the South Carolina quarterback can barely get noticed.
This has not stopped him from producing at an incredible rate with both his arm and his legs.
Unfortunately, he struggled against North Carolina while only completing 11 of his 20 pass attempts. He was also stopped too many times on the ground while totaling 43 yards on 12 carries.
He will need to make better passes and better decisions in order to be successful against Georgia.
That requires not only perfect throws on deep balls, but also making sure he hits his receivers on short crosses over the middle. These plays help sustain drives and they lead to more points on the board.
Additionally, Shaw needs to find the open man on every play and be sure not to force anything. This includes staying in the pocket until there is an opening.
He has plenty of talent, but he can be even better if he increases his efficiency.
Wrap Up on Tackles
This was the biggest problem against Clemson, and it led to 38 points allowed.
Running back Roderick McDowell rushed for 132 yards, quarterback Tajh Boyd rushed for two touchdowns and receiver Sammy Watkins had tons of yards after the catch.
The game was proof that the inexperience on Georgia's defense was a serious problem. While the talent is obviously there, the young players might not be ready to play at a high level against quality opponents.
This is a problem that can be fixed. It simply requires more concentration on every play to make sure they finish tackles and bring opponents all the way to the ground.
Otherwise, South Carolina will have enough big plays to win the game.
Get Todd Gurley the Ball
Georgia has a solid two-headed attack at running back with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. However, it is clear that Gurley is the more explosive of the two.
The sophomore had 154 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns against Clemson. On the other hand, Marshall only ended up with 43 yards on 16 rushing attempts.
Gurley has the size to handle the tough carries in the middle while also having the breakaway speed to score from anywhere on the field. This helped him total 1,385 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on only 222 attempts last season.
While it is important to keep him fresh, he also needs to get more than 13 touches on the offensive end like he did against Clemson. The coaching staff must find a way to get him at least 20 carries against South Carolina to allow him to be as productive as possible.
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