South Carolina Football: What We Learned From Gamecocks Win Over Georgia

DJ BatchlerCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2010

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 11: Tailback Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates with teammates after his second quarter touchdown during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Initially there were many things Gamecock fans expected to learn. The biggest, and most important thing learned this week was that Marcus Lattimore is without a doubt, a difference maker. It is completely safe to say that without Marcus Lattimore, the University of South Carolina would be a .500 team.

Lattimore's numbers were impressive. 37 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns.  The second most important thing learned from South Carolina's game against Georgia is that Steve Spurrier doesn't mind handing the ball off 40 plus times a game.

Steve Spurrier's comments after the game were incredibly telling as well. He praised Lattimore as was expected and while he was critical of Stephen Garcia for taking a few sacks, though the line looked lost on a few of them, Spurrier did call Garcia's performance "gutty." 

You will be hard pressed to find a better word than gutty to sum up the entire game played by the Gamecocks. There were spots where the Gamecocks looked sluggish, and even lost. The defense again displayed their bend, don't break strategy, and again, it worked.

Something troubling learned from the matchup between two top 25 teams was that the Gamecocks may be better without Chris Culliver. Chris Culliver looked lost when he was on the field. Maybe it was the fact that Culliver hasn't played, or maybe there are deeper concerns with Culliver's ability.

Another thing we are learning is that there are seats on the bandwagon and those seats are filling up quickly. Robert Smith from ESPN and Wendy Nix, seemingly more than Todd McShay were quick to point out the talent of the Gamecocks. Robert Smith was bold enough to say that this may be "the Gamecocks year."

Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and sources all over the Internet are starting to believe in the Gamecocks, who will likely climb higher in the rankings this week as well. With Georgia being ranked ahead of them, Georgia Tech was upset by Kansas, Virginia Tech was upset and will likely drop out of the top 25, and a few other shakeups may gain the Gamecocks more spots than some expect.

The Gamecocks look like a different team than they have in years past. They don't seem to take plays off, or at least have the entire team isn't taking plays off. There were however still blown coverages and a few missed tackles, which are errors that must be corrected.

The Gamecocks can continue to tweak next week when they face in-state FCS opponent Furman. After Furman though, the Gamecocks travel to Auburn to play the Tigers. The Auburn/South Carolina game will be a matchup of two of the most highly recruited running backs. Michael Dyer and Marcus Lattimore.

The Gamecocks can't afford to take a game lightly at any point this season. This is the year that all eyes are on them. They have to make their statement, and drive it home.  One of the heavy critiques of Spurrier's Gamecocks has been their rushing. If the Gamecocks can play evenly and not rely too heavily on rushing or passing they will continue to impress and be able to win close games.

The Gamecocks 17-6 win was a big win no doubt. The first time Mark Richt had lost in Columbia in his tenure at Georgia. Each game is a big game in 2010. This continues to appear to be the season for South Carolina to grab the brass ring and take over the SEC East. With another week down, the Gamecocks must shift their focus to the next week.