1. King Tavarres - Georgia's leading receiver Michael Bennett tore his ACL this week in practice and he'll be missed. So, the pressure is on senior WR Tavarres King to produce even more than he already has this year. Bennett's speed and explosiveness were on full display against Tennessee and King made his fair share of plays. But, King must now be an even more effective downfield weapon to keep the Gamecocks from loading the box to stop the Georgia running game.
2. A Rookie's first "big" test - Most everyone throughout the country knows of the two Georgia true freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall (that's Gurshall 3-4 for the uninformed), but the most important rookie wearing a white jersey on Saturday is freshman right tackle John Theus.
Why so important? Two reasons: Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. Throughout the game, Theus will be matched up against one of those two, a test unlike any one that he's faced in his short college career. The former Bolles Bulldog star must prove he can man that side by himself or it'll be a long day for this offense.
3. Unleash the Hounds…or Dawgs - The last time South Carolina QB Connor Shaw set foot on the Williams Brice Stadium turf, he completed 20 passes in a row. But, he did that mainly because Missouri let Shaw sit in the pocket with a ton of time and find his open receivers. Georgia's front seven is too talented to allow Shaw such a luxury. It's imperative, though, that Georgia DC Todd Grantham make Shaw's life uncomfortable, sending five, six and even seven on occasion.
1. Get off blocks immediately - The consistent trait of the Georgia running backs is the speed with which they "get on you" as a defender. In other words, the burst both Gurley and Marshall have make it difficult for defenders because to stop them effectively enough, those defenders must get off blocks, get free and get in position to make a solid form tackle. Tennessee couldn't do it and got rolled. South Carolina's front seven is much better, but it's still faced with the same charge.
2. Lattimore the Blocker - USC RB Marcus Lattimore will get 24 to 28 touches in this game, there's little question that he'll be the bell cow on the ground. But, where he might be more important this weekend is as a pass blocker.
Georgia's star LB Jarvis Jones is one of the best pass rushers in the nation and he can run roughshod against a suspect USC offensive line. As such, Lattimore must eschew his pass route running and stick his 218 pound body on Jones and Georgia's other pass rushers throughout this game.
3. Ace in Space - I'm amazed that South Carolina star Ace Sanders doesn't get more opportunity to "see" the ball out in space. This is a perfect opportunity against this Georgia defense to get him involved in the offense, outside the hashes against the Georgia secondary and stretch that experienced group to its horizontal limit.
Prior to the season, I picked Georgia to win the SEC East but this game gave me great pause. I had concluded that South Carolina would win this game, but it would get popped a couple of times in the conference to give the title to the Bulldogs.
Georgia is better than I expected, but so is South Carolina. As such, beating South Carolina in Columbia isn't something that happens all that often. Shaw is the key, in my opinion, and South Carolina's OL and Lattimore must give him time to throw. If so, Shaw will have another tremendous game at home and the Gamecocks will remain undefeated.
South Carolina - 28 vs. Georgia - 25