September 9, 2011
University of South Carolina
Raise your hand if you SERIOUSLY thought Stephen Garcia would never play another down for the Gamecocks after the Old Balls Coach suspended him for the 5th time in his college career?
Alright, those of you with your hands raised lower your hand onto the hot eye of a stove because that's your punishment for stupid thoughts.
...yeah, this guy takin' a whiz at Augusta looks like a real rules Nazi.
5th year senior Stephen Garcia will in fact return to drive the Chevy Cruze of college football we know as the South Carolina Gamecocks. Why is USC like a Chevy Cruze? Well, one minute you're enjoying a fun ride in what you think is a quality, low-budget automobile...then next thing you know, disaster strikes and the steering wheel falls off.
Not that I'm slinging mud, because Lord knows Georgia fans aren't really in a great position to trash talk, but the Gamecocks are notoriously streaky. They usually end up with a few baffling losses each year after knocking off a big boy here and there and it costs them serious contention in what used to be a relatively difficult SEC East.
Well that's no longer the case. As I sit here reading prediction after prediction of South Carolina as the preseason favorite in the East (sans Phil Steele WOOT WOOT) I can't help but realize that yes, this Gamecocks team has the stability, experience, and talent to indeed win the East.
...but that doesn't mean the Bulldogs, Gators, and (oh why not?) the Vols are gonna just roll over from 20 years of division dominance and hand it over to them.
The Gamecocks play us like we're their 2nd biggest rival, we play them like they're our 4th biggest rival. That probably has a lot to do with why Georgia appears to embrace the shootout culture surrounding this game and occasionally loses it.
Last year's game in Columbia was frustrating.
...given, ANYTIME we have to travel and play at Dead Cockroach Stadium tends to be incredibly frustrating.
The only good thing to come out of that game was that Washaun Ealey got to see an example of what a program's premier running back looks like. That introduction to Marcus Lattimore exposed our weak tackling, and our inability to score a touchdown only compounded problems when #3 coughed up the ball on a relatively solid 3rd quarter drive toward the end-zone. AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!1
But the game wasn't lost by Washaun, it was lost as a team.
So this year, our TEAM went out and got our own Marcus Lattimore, bulked up our D-Line, and spiced up our S&C program. We as fans get to enjoy the game in an environment where trees grow and you're not in the middle-of-nowhere's warehouse district. I don't think there's a Dawg out there that doesn't know the importance of this game. Since South Carolina is the team to beat, we sure as hell need to beat 'em.
The only problem is South Carolina is a good, balanced team. If SOMEHOW we shut down Marcus Lattimore, we have to focus on Alshon Jeffrey. If Stephen Garcia doesn't get suspended for a 6th time and starts this game he's got the experience and know-how to pick us apart if we show a weakness. I'd love to get Big John in there and get some grass stains on the back of Garcia's jersey, but for a team as fundamentally sound as South Carolina the opportunities may come few and far between.
UGA 20, South Cackalacky 24
I hate picking the Dawgs to lose, but until I see them play September 3rd I have no idea how this team looks.
Too many question marks and a thin O-Line makes me question whether we can keep Ellis Johnson's defense out of Aaron Murray's face-mask. Plus it doesn't help that this year we have to worry about the nation's #1 high school recruit, Jadeveon Clowney (who made grades).
If Isaiah Crowell lives up to his billing, our defense melds into the juggernaut we're hoping for, and the crowd makes Sanford Stadium's atmosphere electric this prediction could go out the window. I think Aaron Murray is twice the baller Stephen Garcia is, and if Orson Charles and Tavarres King pick up 1/2 the slack free'd up by AJ Green's departure we'll be in good shape.
I love the Dawgs, and I want them to win, but since we all know there is no such thing as WILLING your team to victory (even against a Conference USA opponent), at this time I'm not quite ready to say we can beat South Carolina.
Please prove me wrong, I would be delighted.