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Georgia football defensive tackle Michael Barnett says the Bulldogs are working to improve against the run.

WATCH: Georgia defense braces for South Carolina ‘Pin and Pull’ rush attack

ATHENS — South Carolina coach Will Muschamp and Georgia coach Kirby Smart share similar philosophies, including the need for offensive balance.

The Gamecocks (2-3, 1-2 SEC) head to Sanford Stadium on Saturday aiming to run the football effectively, aware it’s key to their upset hopes against the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs  (5-0, 2-0) in the noon showdown (TV: ESPN).

“We rushed the ball well against Kentucky, and that gives you some more confidence,” Muschamp said at his press conference. “And then we rushed the ball well against Alabama.

“It’s a mindset of physicality and what you want to be. We want to be able to run the ball and stay balanced offensively.”

Georgia fans have heard Smart say the same thing, over and over.

Conversely, both coaches also stress stopping the run. Few teams have done it better than the Bulldogs through the first five games.

Georgia ranks fifth in the nation against the run and is the only team not to allow a rushing touchdown.

A closer look reveals UGA hasn’t faced a real good rushing attack yet.

Notre Dame was the best running team the Bulldogs faced, and the Irish were missing their top running back. Coach Brian Kelly said his team came into the game looking to hit chunk plays, more so than to establish a run.

After Notre Dame, which ranks 61st in he nation in rushing yards per game, there’s Tennessee (12th in SEC, 90th in the country) and Vanderbilt (Last in the SEC, 110th in the nation).

South Carolina is fifth in the SEC and 38th in the country with 203.8 rushing yards per game, coming off a 247-yard performance in a 24-7 win over Kentucky.

Muschamp discussed how South Carolina has recruited more athletic linemen, enabling them to run a scheme featuring more pulling linemen that he refers to “Pin and Pull.”

“As much as anything, what I’ve learned over the years is finding some runs you like and that you can execute and block versus three down (linemen), you can block versus. four down, and you can block vs. pressure,” Muschamp said. “And that (Pull and Pin) is just something over the period of time that we’ve felt comfortable with.

“I think that those are things our guys have repped a lot.”

The Gamecocks probably would have liked to have repped the run more against Alabama earlier this season. As it was, South Carolina rushed for 135 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry in a 47-23 loss.

Smart has surely taken note, and that could explain his emphasis on sharpening his defense against the run this week in practice.

We haven’t fit things real well all the time, we haven’t tackled the way we’re supposed to, especially in space, and some of that comes off the passing game, but we have to play better in space,” Smart said this week. “We have to be a better tackling team. That comes from perimeter runs from running backs.

“So I’m not pleased with how we have played, as far as contact and contact toughness. We have to improve on that and get better because that’s a hole when you watch football in general, tackling tends to go downhill as the season goes, and we can’t let that happen. A lot of that starts with our defensive line, controlling it from getting out of there.”

Senior defensive tackle Michael Barnett said the Bulldogs are doing what they can in practice to be ready for what figures to be the rest rushing attack the team has faced to this point of the season.

“We practice all week to get those things right,” Barnett said. “When we execute them right, we’re happy, but at the same time, those things that we get wrong, we have to fix those things. So that’s what we primarily focus on.”

Georgia DT Michael Barnett

 

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