It isn’t enough for Mark Richt’s fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs to defeat the sixth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. They have to do something far more drastic Saturday evening.
They need to beat them soundly and without much mercy.
What is prompting this you ask? Well for starters, what is the first thing you think of when I say Alabama, LSU, Oregon, or Southern California? Those are football programs that you know are going to bring it every single week without much argument from pundits, writers, and “experts.” The reason those programs are in the enviable position of getting “recognition points” before they take a snap is simple: coaching.
Nick Saban? We know what he’s about. Les Miles and Urban Meyer as well. Chip Kelly is getting there as fast as his offense is putting up the points, and Lane Kiffin has USC (still burdened a bit by sanctions) humming along as if nothing has changed just off Figueroa. Those guys, want to beat you and make a point while doing it. They want to make sure that the opposition is so upset that there’s no room for “yipping” outside of making themselves look foolish because you beat them so badly.
Which brings us back to the game this Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina. We all know (I say we because I, too, am a University of Georgia fan) that Steve Spurrier has been a thorn in the proverbial side of the Bulldogs since his days at that school in Gainesville. He has talked, and talked, and talked some more and all we can do is say “well, that’s just Steve” Because his 14-5 record (3-4 while “head ball coach” for South Carolina) has given him something to yap about.
That needs to end. Saturday.
I’ve looked at this game from just about every angle a fan, analyst, sports writer, etc. can look at it. At the end of the day it comes down to one thing: knowing you have the better team and playing like it. You can say South Carolina “only” gives up 11.2 points per game. But that would be overlooking the fact that they’ve only played Vanderbilt, Kentucky, East Carolina, UAB, and Missouri. So here’s hoping that those “offensive behemoths” didn’t skew the numbers too badly until now. You can say South Carolina has stud running back Marcus Lattimore; again you would be overlooking that Georgia has the number one (Todd Gurley) and number six (Keith Marshall) running backs in the SEC and playing at high levels year-one (although thankfully, Spurrier is well aware of this).
What it boils down to for Georgia is the same thing it has boiled down to since they were ranked a preseason top-10 team. Aaron Murray has to stop making mistakes. They just can’t happen anymore. Period. Georgia is at a point in its schedule/season where the teams will now capitalize on those mistakes and make you pay (as Tennessee did last week when two big leads were blown). I understand the offense averages 48-points per contest, but you can’t tell me that a defense, who was pretty darn good to begin with and just got back two stud players in Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo, should be wasted on turnovers that gives no room to bend?
With that in mind I come back to my original point: Georgia must score early, often, and late as they have all season. But Mark Richt wouldn’t be a bad guy if he allowed them to keep that foot on the pedal because if he wants to enter into the realm of Saban, Miles, Meyer and (yes) Spurrier he needs to give this Bulldog an air about them that lets the nation know when they come to town it means business. The 5-0 (3-0 SEC) start is very pretty, but to pound South Carolina before heading to Jacksonville will put the conference (and nation) on notice that Georgia is a legitimate title contender.
Here’s hoping they heed my advice.