David Cloninger

South Carolina vs. Georgia: Five numbers, five storylines

South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry
South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry mwalsh@thestate.com

A closer look at the USC-Georgia matchup:

FIVE NUMBERS

1: Number of Georgia wins in the last five meetings with South Carolina. It was in Athens, though.

262, 207.5: Georgia’s average rushing yards per game/USC’s average rushing yards given up per game

0: Career starts of USC quarterback Perry Orth and the number of times he’s played at Sanford Stadium.

37, 0: USC points given up in two first halves this year/USC points given up in two second halves this year

100: Likely percentage of Georgia running the ball if it gets a first-and-goal at the 4 this year.

FIVE STORYLINES

1. MENTALISTS

As downtrodden as the Kentucky loss was, the Gamecocks can still have a fine season. They have to realize that. As unlikely as a win looks Saturday, it could still happen. One mistake by Georgia or one big South Carolina play and the pressure is all on the Bulldogs – they’re the ones who have lost four of five in the series, and they’re the ones who would have to live with another year of the Steve Spurrier Smirk.

2. FIRST-HALF TEAM

It’s mind-boggling how well USC’s defense has played in each second half of the season, when by logic it should be tired and less energetic. It hasn’t been just adjustments; it’s been night-and-day different. If the Gamecocks can just slow down Georgia, particularly Nick Chubb, in the first half, perhaps its offense can begin to spark.

3. FOLLOW ME, BOYS

Perry Orth had no hesitation when asked to lead the Gamecocks last week, and he says he anticipates no problems in leading it this week and in the future. It’s his team now, fair or unfair, and Orth is at least winning the primaries. If he can just be steady and not asked to do too much, Spurrier can likely find some wily move in his love-to-beat-Georgia playbook and pull another Melvin Ingram Special out of thin air. Orth will simply have to execute it. Two words – “Erik Kimrey.”

4. CONTROL

Brandon Wilds frustratedly asked for it, so give it to him. Especially on the goal line. Orth is allowed to ease his way in, Chubb is kept off the field, the Gamecocks don’t have to worry about forcing a ball to Pharoh Cooper between four defenders. Run. And then run some more.

5. HEDGING

Elliott Fry has only missed from 42 and 57 yards, but his miss last week loomed large. Fry has been labeled one of the best kickers in the country and he needs to prove it if given the chance. All four of his makes this year have been less than 30 yards, so if the Gamecocks’ offense stalls in Athens, he has to deliver no matter where he is. It often comes down to who can kick the best down there.

GoGamecocks' Josh Kendall and David Cloninger preview and predict South Carolina's Saturday game at Georgia.

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