Coming off a loss to Arkansas, the South Carolina Gamecocks were probably hoping for better news than they got this week. A couple of key injuries are going to make a seemingly impossible task look that much harder.
By Matt Zemek
The Gamecocks already knew this weekend was going to be difficult with Georgia coming to town, but loss of outside linebacker Jordan Strachan and middle linebacker Mo Kaba to season-ending ACL injuries is news they couldn’t afford. Gamecock head coach Shane Beamer knows the task ahead is daunting, and he will not take it lightly, so the next man up must be ready to show up this weekend.
Strive for excellence, beyond competence
It’s true that any big underdog simply must avoid beating itself when playing a No. 1 team in the nation. This Georgia team is ranked No. 1 for many good and valid reasons. After years of wondering if they’d always be the bridesmaid to Alabama, Georgia derailed the Alabama train for its first national title in 41 years. The Dawgs have little to no interest in beating themselves, which means South Carolina must first avoid big errors … but we all know that can’t be the whole plan. South Carolina took down a heavyweight 12 years ago under Steve Spurrier, knocking off Nick Saban and Alabama in the Stephen Garcia season when the Gamecocks won their only SEC East title. They threw the ball downfield and not only took chances; they hit the jackpot. That has to be the approach against Bama’s defense, especially the secondary.
Spencer Rattler’s Moment
Spencer Rattler chose the Gamecocks because he wanted to play in big moments and in a top conference. It doesn’t get much bigger than a game against the No. 1 team in the nation. If Rattler plays like Johnny Manziel in 2012, he could silence the people who hounded him when he was benched at Oklahoma for Caleb Williams, ultimately leading to his transfer to South Carolina. With Williams bailing on Oklahoma for USC, this is Spencer Rattler’s chance to make Oklahoma fans lament losing not just one, but two, blue-chip quarterbacks to schools with the initials USC.
Worry less about Georgia, more about yourself
This is an all-hands-on-deck occasion for South Carolina: full playbook, full range of possibilities, all three phases of play. Special teams will have to pin Georgia back, nail longer field goals, and provide quality returns without penalties. The offensive line will have to give Rattler time to operate and he must punish Georgia with his legs on specific individual plays when the Dawgs’ superior defensive line talent wins the war of the trenches. Lastly, the defense will have to make Georgia pay for missing any chances and get a takeaway or two. Contributions from everyone on the roster are needed. Don’t worry about how good Georgia is; play the best possible game and let the chips fall where they may.