Sep 18, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) celebrates after tackling South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Luke Doty (not pictured) for a safety during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via USA TODAY NETWORK
Joshua L. Jones

Georgia football winners and losers following the 40-13 win over South Carolina

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Georgia football winners and losers following the win over South Carolina

Winner: Nolan Smith

The Georgia defense did give up its first touchdown of the year. It was a good run, one that lasted into the fourth quarter of the third game of the regular season.

By the time the touchdown was surrounded, the starters were long gone from the game. That first-string defense gave up just 6 points.

The Bulldogs once again proved dominant in the front seven, holding South Carolina to just 0.4 yards per rush in the first half. Georgia also knocked starting quarterback Zeb Noland from the game and then sacked back-up Luke Doty 3 times.

Smith combined for 1.5 of those sacks, and each time he dragged the quarterback down it provided a big boost to the Georgia team.

South Carolina wide receiver Josh Vann was a problem all night for Georgia. He finished with 3 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.

He set up South Carolina’s first scoring drive by hauling in a 61-yard pass on the opening drive for the Gamecocks. Ameer Speed was the cornerback in coverage but the entire defense was caught off guard when South Carolina went hurry-up.

Vann didn’t just victimize Speed though. He got behind redshirt freshman Kelee Ringo, snarred a pass over Derion Kendrick and nearly made another impressive grab against Lewis Cine, only for him the junior defender to get a piece of the ball and just prevent Vann from coming down with another big reception.

Related: Georgia safety Lewis Cine: ‘We’re not as good as you might think we are’

“Josh Vann had a good night for them and hey, we’re going to face guys like him every week, every week,” Smart said. “You got to play with great technique. We got to play one-on-one. If you want to be a good defense, you better be able to play man to man.”

To this point in the season, the Georgia secondary has held up well. But with the struggles the Clemson offense has had to date, it’s fair to wonder how much the group has really been tested.