ATHENS — No. 7 Georgia (3-0, 2-0 SEC) defeated South Carolina (1-2, 0-2) 52-20 on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in a night that will be best remembered for Greyson Lambert’s record setting passing performance. But the rest of the team played pretty doggone good, too. Following are the grades the Bulldogs deserve for their effort.
There is no such thing as a perfect game in football, but this was about as close as it gets. Not only did Lambert complete 96 percent of his 25 passes with one throw-away, but the Bulldogs also got an 11th straight 100-yard rushing game out of tailback Nick Chubb (159, 2 TDs) and piled up 576 yards total offense. After settling for a field goal on its first drive, Georgia scored TDs on seven straight possessions. Yes, there was excellence here.
We don’t do the plus and minus thing here at DawgNation, but this grade would be on the high end of the good scale. The most important aspect of the Bulldogs’ work Saturday was in shutting down South Carolina’s run, and they did it quickly and mercilessly. The Gamecocks finished with 174 yards on the ground, but most of that came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was well in hand. Dominick Sanders had another interception and another long return (33 yards) and Leonard Floyd had another sack. All and all a very good day.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Once again this proved to be the chink in the Bulldogs’ armor. Georgia’s kickoff return coverage was poor as the Gamecocks — and Shon Carson in particular — got loose for 162 yards. His 51-yard return followed by a facemask penalty set up a 51-yard field goal for Elliott Fry that came after Georgia kicked off with 17 seconds remaining in the half. Collin Barber relieved Marshall Morgan on that particular kick and they managed just three touchbacks on nine kickoffs.
You have to give coach Mark Richt and his staff credit for several things. First, for keeping Lambert’s confidence intact following a shaky performance at Vanderbilt. Second, for busting open the offensive playbook and letting the junior quarterback sling it all over the yard. And, third, to Jeremy Pruitt for game-planning against Steve Spurrier’s offense in which he couldn’t be sure what they would look like with a new quarterback. Whether or not they meant to play conservatively before Saturday’s game, it certainly looked like they saved some wrinkles for South Carolina.
This looked and felt like a referendum game for the Bulldogs, who hadn’t built their top-10 ranking on much more than reputation the first two weeks. It remains to be seen if South Carolina is actually as bad as Georgia made it look. But the fact that the Bulldogs were 17-point favorites and won by nearly twice that bodes well for the present and for the future.