ATHENS — Georgia football is ready to make an SEC statement after dispatching of two overmatched opponents in what amounted to glorified scrimmages.
“Whenever you play an SEC opponent, the mindset is different and the practice is different,” Bulldogs’ captain Jamon Dumas-Johnson said.
“Especially the first one; it’s kind of like a statement game right now, to send everybody a message of what we’re really about.”
It’s Georgia’s first time taking the field with the nation’s longest home win streak (20 games) with Texas have snapped Alabama’s string of home victories at 21 last Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
Coach Kirby Smart’s No. 1-ranked Georgia program will have an opportunity to put that message on display in a nationally televised game against South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. (TV: CBS).
The Gamecocks (1-1) are a four-touchdown underdog and wouldn’t seem to post that much of a threat against the two-time defending champion Bulldogs (2-0).
But Georgia fans remember — as do current UGA staff members Will Muschamp and Bryan McClendon — that the last time a UGA team lost between the hedges it was to an underdog South Carolina program.
The Bulldogs were a three-touchdown favorite on that day, and it was a loss no one saw coming as that Georgia team had won 16 straight home games entering the action.
Muschamp was the head coach for the Gamecocks in a noon game that saw a then undefeated and No. 3-ranked Georgia team turn the ball over four times and normally reliable kicker Rodrigo Blankenship miss a key field goal in a 20-17 overtime loss.
Smart said he hasn’t mentioned that loss to his team because “I wouldn’t want to give B-Mac [Bryan McClendon] and Will [Muschamp] the pleasure.”
But even Georgia players who weren’t a part of the team are well-aware the Gamecocks were the last opposing team to win in Sanford Stadium.
“Anybody can beat anyone on a given day, so you just have to prepare the best you can,” said UGA linebacker Smael Mondon, who correctly identified South Carolina as the last opponent to win in Athens when quizzed.
“They have a real athletic team … Spencer Rattler has a big arm.”
No doubt, Rattler’s wins over Tennessee and Clemson last season resonate with the Bulldogs, and they are ready to follow Dumas-Johnson’s lead and look to make a statement.
“I would say definitely we have to flip a switch whenever we start playing in the SEC,” UGA cornerback Kamari Lassiter said. “Because league play is different … you have to turn your level of play up a notch to compete at a high level.”
Georgia didn’t have any problem doing that last season in Columbia, winning 48-7, and the tone this week has been the Bulldogs desire to sink their teeth into the Gamecocks on Saturday