Here’s some important information about No. 7 Georgia, South Carolina’s week three opponent.
Record: 2-0 (1-0 SEC)
What happened last week: Georgia pounded Vanderbilt with its running game and forced three turnovers to defeat the Commodores 31-14 in Nashville last Saturday.
Led by running back Nick Chubb’s 189-yard effort, the Bulldogs gained 281 yards on the ground as they earned their first SEC win of the season.
Georgia shook off a bit of a slow start and scored two non-offensive touchdowns in the win as wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie returned a punt for a 77-yard score, while safety Dominick Sanders had a pick-six off of Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary.
Last head-to-head matchup: Looking back on it, last season’s South Carolina-Georgia tilt might be best remembered as the game that kept the Bulldogs out of the SEC Championship game.
In a battle of two top-25 teams at the time, South Carolina, which would finish the year only 7-6, managed to upset then-No. 6 Georgia 38-35.
Dylan Thompson had one of his better games of the 2014 season, completing 21 of 30 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns in the win, while Brandon Wilds had 93 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Still, Georgia had an opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but Bulldog kicker Marshall Morgan missed a 28-yard field goal.
The Gamecocks were then able to pick up a few critical first downs to run out the clock.
Head coach spotlight: Now in his 15th season as the head coach at Georgia, Mark Richt finds himself in rare company.
Richt is one of just five coaches in NCAA Division 1-A history to record 132 wins or more in his first 14 seasons as a head coach, as he went 136-48 from 2001-2014.
With that said, Georgia has not won an SEC Championship since 2005 and many folks in Athens are patiently waiting for Richt to have the Bulldogs back on top of the conference.
Could 2015 be the year that happens? If Chubb can continue to run all over the place and if Georgia can emulate what it did on defense last season in defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s first season, then maybe.
A player to know on offense: We’ll assume you know all about Chubb and the havoc he causes for opposing defenses, so let’s talk about starting quarterback Greyson Lambert.
In many ways, Lambert is one of the most intriguing players on Georgia’s offense. Heading into fall camp, sophomore Brice Ramsey seemed to be the favorite to replace Hunter Mason at quarterback.
But Lambert, a graduate transfer from Virginia, surprisingly won the job in late August.
Through two games, Lambert has completed 19 of 33 passes for only 257 yards and two touchdowns.
After redshirting in 2012, Lambert played two years under Mike London at Virginia, but hardly impressed.
Lambert passed for only 10 touchdowns and threw 11 interceptions during his time as a Cavalier and had he chosen to stay with Virginia in 2015, there were no guarantees that he would win the quarterback job there.
Yet, Lambert finds himself starting for a 2-0 Georgia team that many believe can win the SEC East this season.
Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer aren’t asking for Lambert to do a ton, but the way he plays could be the difference between Georgia playing for an SEC title or the Bulldogs sitting at home in early December for the third straight year.
A player to know on defense: Georgia was a much-improved team defensively in 2014 and a lot of that had to do with the great play of now-senior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins.
Jenkins, who was named Georgia’s Most Improved Player of the Year last season, recorded 70 tackles and five sacks in 2014. As a result, the Hamilton, Georgia native earned a spot on the 2015 preseason All-SEC First-Team.
Jenkins enters this Saturday’s contest against South Carolina coming off one of his best performances as a Bulldog. He had a career-best 11 tackles, two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss against Vanderbilt.
What the Bulldogs did well last week: So far this season, Georgia has subscribed to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) theory on offense and it has worked. The Bulldogs are breaking in a new quarterback and they have a backfield that features Chubb, Keith Marshall and Sony Michel, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been running the ball a lot. Last Saturday in Nashville was no different.
Georgia averaged nearly seven yards per run play against the Commodores, while attempting only 25 passes.
The Bulldogs had five running plays go for 20-plus yards and Chubb averaged 9.9 yards, nearly a first-down, per carry.
What the Bulldogs did poorly last week: Georgia might run the ball well as a team, but they Bulldogs are very one-dimensional on offense due to their lack of a passing game.
Against Vanderbilt, Lambert did not complete a pass until the third quarter and Georgia had just 145 passing yards against the Commodores.
For that reason, Richt’s team got off to a slow start on offense. Georgia’s first three offensive possessions resulted in two punts and a missed field goal.
Playing at home against a South Carolina, which has struggled in the first half this season, Georgia will try to put the Gamecocks away early, but another slow start by the Bulldogs could potentially give Steve Spurrier’s group the confidence needed to stick around.