Five Keys: UGA – South Carolina Football 2012

Wear them down, Georgia.

Well…it’s here. The battle of the titans, as the University of Georgia Bulldogs face the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 6, 2012 in Columbia.  We believe there are five keys that will determine the outcome of this SEC rivalry between UGA and South Carolina.  Frankly, the five keys are fundamental, and certainly not visionary revelations, but…watch for these keys during the game:

1.  Georgia’s ability to protect Aaron Murray and open holes for the tailbacks.
South Carolina’s defensive line, led by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, is stout…fast, big, and active.  UGA’s offensive line has been steadily improving and it is hard to argue with a Georgia offense whose scoring echoes the left coast Oregonians.  Georgia must protect Aaron Murray, which leads to…

2.  Aaron Murray’s ability to make sound decisions.
South Carolina will most definitely try to pressure Murray, as the Dawgs’ quarterback has shown deft precision when given time.  Conversely, as a sophomore, Murray demonstrated a disturbing tendency to make poor throwing decisions when pressured by the defense.  Murray must be willing to take a sack, throw the ball away, be patient.  By the way, I don’t sense that Murray necessarily forces the ball under pressure…it is almost as if he just doesn’t see the field as clearly.

3.  Force Conner Shaw to beat us with his arm.
It is crucial that Conner Shaw not be allowed to run wild.  Lattimore is may slowly beat UGA into submission, but Shaw is the greater danger.  In games this season, Conner Shaw is very quick to pull the ball down and run (almost as if he prefers to run).  The Gamecocks quarterback demonstrated beautiful passing downfield against Missouri, but Missouri’s defense is highly suspect.  It is imperative that the front seven for the Georgia defense contain Conner Shaw.  Which leads us to the play of the UGA defensive backfield…

4.  UGA’s defensive backs must play an inspired game.
Georgia’s front seven will have their hands full trying to contain Conner Shaw and Marcus Lattimore on the ground.  In pass situations especially, I would expect a fast spy on Conner Shaw (probably Jarvis Jones).  It is highly likely that UGA’s defensive backs will have one-on-one coverages, and the safeties and cornerbacks must rise to the challenge.

5.  Special Teams Play/Turn-overs.
These are self-evident to anyone who has watched UGA play football recently. Simply put, UGA must win on turn-over ratio and play well on special teams.  Game-changing special teams plays (returned kicks for touchdowns, blocked punts, etc.) by UGA would be nice, but really, in this game I reckon playing conservatively and smartly will be enough.