For a team that set an NFL record during the 2022 Draft, Georgia football sure has not shown signs of regression. Two games into the 2022 season and Georgia has yet to surrender a touchdown and has only given up a measly three points.
Against Samford, Georgia allowed just three first downs and pitched its ninth shutout since 2016. The Dawgs were beyond dominant, allowing just 109 yards in the air and 19 yards on the ground.
This weekend Georgia begins SEC play, going on the road to Williams-Brice Stadium to take on a scrappy South Carolina team with nothing to lose. Georgia comes into the game a 24-point favorite, and for a good reason.
However, after just two weeks of watching football across the country, there is no guarantee. Georgia still has to play their game, and South Carolina is in trouble if they do.
Georgia football must see its defense do these three things to have grilled chicken Saturday night.
Here are the three things Georgia will do on defense to beat South Carolina and cover the spread.
Georgia is last in SEC play with just one sack in 2022 and leading the conference in Arkansas with nine. However, the Hogs have given up 54 points in two games. Sack stats look good, but Georgia fans know that’s not the only thing that head coach Kirby Smart defines as success.
Look for Georgia to force South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler to move around a lot. The Dawgs have done a phenomenal job of making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable, which must continue in Columbia.
In his SEC debut at Arkansas, Rattler threw for 376 yards with one touchdown and one interception last week. He got sacked six times. If South Carolina cannot improve their protection for Rattler, Georgia will make quick work of the Gamecocks.
Georgia co-defensive coordinators Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp will dial up more blitzes than we have seen in the first two games. Just because Georgia doesn’t solely define sack stats as the only success stat does not mean Georgia does not want them. They will get more than one but will create a lot of havoc all day.
Protect against the screen
South Carolina is struggling against the pass rush. If we all talk about it, you know their coaches are seeing it too.
Marshawn Lloyd missed all of 2020 with a torn ACL. He played some in 2021 and has seen the field more this season. As a runner, we still have not seen the Lloyd most of us assumed we would see after watching him in high school. Lloyd was a 4-star from Hyattsville, Maryland. Georgia was high on his list when he committed to South Carolina.
Where Lloyd has shined is in the passing game. He has eight catches for 103 yards. Not Kenny McIntosh numbers but hey, for South Carolina, it’s an improvement.
South Carolina will expect Georgia to throw a lot of different looks at Spencer Rattler. One way the Gamecocks can combat that will be screen passes to Lloyd.
Third and longs are ideal times for screens and could be used to try and keep Georgia’s defensive unit on the field.
Respect Spencer Rattler’s Arm
Rattler has been in the spotlight since coming out of high school. His time at Oklahoma was not the highlight reel he hopped. However, his transfer doesn’t mean that his arm isn’t elite — his arm strength is NFL caliber.
A team with a quarterback like this is always set up for an upset. Georgia cannot afford to fall asleep on Rattler. He can hit the big plays that keep the crowd in the game.
Georgia has to eliminate the crowd as fast as possible. Forcing early turnovers while shutting down the crowd’s prized quarterback would do the trick.
Rattler came to South Carolina for this type of game, and this is why the Gamecocks brought him to Columbia. Georgia will mix its coverages up early, which will mess with Rattler. Once the pressure comes, and he can’t read the coverage is when the Bo Nix will come out of him.
This Georgia defense is the best in the nation. The recruiting has been next level, and the coaching staff is second to none. Georgia will beat South Carolina, and they will cover the 24-point spread. After watching them the last two years, Georgia does not have to play A+ ball. I would not expect anything less.