There’s been a lot of talk this week about the speed of USC’s defense.
The Gamecocks’ two defensive captains – linebacker Eric Norwood and defensive end Cliff Matthews – continually chased down N.C. State QB Russell Wilson last week and finished with two sacks apiece in the 7-3 win in Raleigh.
Steve Spurrier called both players “4.5 guys” in the 40-yard dash, although Norwood said he thinks Matthews would edge him in a footrace.
Matthews isn’t so sure.
Never miss a local story.
“Norwood’s fast. I’m fast,” Matthews said. “I really don’t know.”
And he really doesn’t care.
The point isn’t to win a race; it’s to get to the quarterback. And if Matthews, Norwood and Co. do that again Saturday at Georgia, the Gamecocks have a great chance to win their second in a row in Athens.
Which QB will USC be chasing?
Joe Cox will get his second start, and hope he fares better than the Bulldogs’ last fifth-year QB named Joe who faced the Gamecocks. Matthew Stafford took over for Joe Tereshinski during an 18-0 UGA win in Columbia in 2006 and didn’t give up the job until this past April when the Detroit Lions took him with the No. 1 overall pick.
Cox hung around Athens the past three years backing up Stafford, fought through a 100-degree fever and flew to Stillwater a day after his teammates so he could play at Okie State. And how do the Georgia faithful thank him?
By calling for his head after one loss. To a top-10 program. On the road.
The Gamecocks prepared this week to face three quarterbacks – Cox, change-of-pace artist Branden Smith and QB-in-waiting Logan Gray. Whoever is under center should have a quick trigger finger.
You can’t lose your starting left tackle – as Georgia did when Trinton Sturdivant went down for the second consecutive year – and not expect to experience a hiccup or two.
Ellis Johnson’s defense will keep this game close. The question is whether the Gamecocks can muster up enough offense to win between the hedges again.
Jarvis Giles will get more touches, Stephen Garcia will have more downfield throws and the Gamecocks will score more than 7 points.
But for the second week in a row, the difference will be the defense.
USC 17, GEORGIA 16