USC Gamecocks Football

Scouting South Carolina’s next opponent: the Georgia Bulldogs

South Carolina (2-3, 1-2 SEC) at No. 3 Georga (5-0, 2-0 SEC)

When: Noon, Saturday

Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia

TV: ESPN

Line: Georgia by 24.5

THREE STORYLINES

1. Can the Gamecocks’ secondary crack Jake Fromm? Georgia’s junior quarterback has completed 77.5% of his passes this season, throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The common criticism he faces is that he’s more game manager than playmaker, but the numbers are still impressive, and South Carolina’s defensive backs have already been torched once this season by Tua Tagovailoa. Fromm might not be on Tagovailoa’s level, but the sophomore cornerback duo of Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn entered this season with a lot of hype and haven’t quite matched it yet. Exposing Fromm would mark a huge feather in their caps.

2. South Carolina’s run game broke out against Kentucky, with both Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle surpassing 100 yards on the night. Georgia has the nation’s fifth-ranked rushing defense, allowing opponents to average just 59.6 yards per game this year. Expecting a repeat performance from the Gamecocks might be too much, but they do need to establish the run at least a little to help out freshman QB Ryan Hilinski.

3. Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are old friends, dating back to their time as teammates at Georgia and coworkers at Valdosta State. Now they’re on opposite sides of a rivalry, but Smart has had the decided advantage so far — three wins, all by 14 or more points. Last year in particular was embarrassing for Muschamp; the Gamecocks hoped for a competitive game or upset at home, and instead the Bulldogs romped to 41-17 win. If South Carolina can at least keep things respectable this time around, Muschamp’s reputation would certainly benefit.

THREE GEORGIA PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Junior running back D’Andre Swift boasts freakish speed (4.43 40-yard dash in high school) and agility. He topped 1,000 yards rushing last season and entered this one as a preseason All-American. Through five games, he’s already at 460 yards, averaging seven a touch, with four touchdowns. He’s also caught 10 passes for 147 yards. He’s one of the main reasons Georgia boasts a top-15 rushing attack in the nation.

2. Speaking of reasons Georgia’s ground game is so good, junior left tackle Andrew Thomas anchors the Bulldogs’ vaunted offensive line. That unit has been hit with injuries through the early part of the season, but it’s hardly slowed UGA’s rushing attack, and Fromm has only been sacked once this year, the lowest rate in the country. Unsurprisingly, Thomas is considered one of the top prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft.

3. Senior safety J.R. Reed does it all for the Bulldogs — he’s tied for second on the team in tackles and passes defended, and he has an interception and fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown. A preseason All-SEC honoree, Reed has started in 34 consecutive games for Georgia and helps lead the SEC’s second-best defense by yards and points allowed per game. He’s also a highly regarded NFL Draft prospect.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.
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