USC Gamecocks Football

Georgia players, coaches: South Carolina’s relentless defense outplayed the Bulldogs

Leading up to Saturday’s game with South Carolina, Georgia coach Kirby Smart raved about the play of the Gamecocks’ defense and size up front.

That praise continued following the Gamecocks’ 20-17 upset of the No. 3 Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium.

“Give South Carolina a lot of credit. They were able to control our run game and were able to play very physical up front. They played a lot of guys. They outplayed us up front,” Smart said. “They got 300-pounders. I said earlier in the week they’ve got good upfront guys. We had some rushing yards but they weren’t dominant yards, and they weren’t able to control the line of scrimmage. They played physical and did a better job against our run game than most people have.”

Georgia was able to pile up the yards. The Bulldogs gained 468 yards of offense and DeAndre Swift rushed for 113 of the team’s 173 yards on the ground. But the 173 yards rushing were second-fewest this season in a game and USC held the Bulldogs to a season-low four yards a carry.

With USC doing a good job eliminating the big plays in the run game, the Gamecocks’ defensive front put a ton of pressure on Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. The defensive front rotation of Javon Kinlaw, DJ Wonnum, Aaron Sterling, Kobe Smith, Rick Sandidge and Kingsley Enagbare did a good job of winning their battles and forcing Fromm out of the pocket.

USC sacked Fromm three times after Georgia had allowed just one all season. The Gamecocks forced Fromm to throw it more than the Bulldogs usually like to do. Fromm attempted a career-high 51 passes, and Georgia is now 0-3 when Fromm attempts more than 30 passes in a game.

“They did a good job. They got after it. They played hard and relentless,” Fromm said of the USC defense. “They did a really good job of being simple and executing on their side. They kind of manned us up and we didn’t make enough plays.”

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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.