Does Andy Staples thread that needle?
Georgia at South Carolina
Pivot point for: Both
This game has been a trendy upset pick for so long that there is absolutely zero chance the Bulldogs overlook the Gamecocks. But there is ample reason to worry about this one for Georgia. The Bulldogs have recruited so well in the past two classes that by the end of the season, this roster should have jelled completely. In Week 2? It’s still possible Georgia is still trying to figure out how to replace the tangible and intangible benefits that Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Roquan Smith, Isaiah Wynn, Davin Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter, Jeb Blazevich and John Atkins provided. This team is stacked but lost a lot of veteran leadership, so the question is how quickly do the new leaders emerge? They may already be in place. Quarterback Jake Fromm, tight end Isaac Nauta and defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter played major parts on a team that won the SEC and came within a play of winning the national title. Even Georgia’s role players from last year—who are now becoming starters—have played in huge spots. The visit to Williams-Brice Stadium will show exactly how far along Georgia is in the process of turning its collection of athletes into a team that can compete for a second consecutive SEC title.
Kinda sorta, if you ask me. It would be foolish to pretend that replacing Roquan Smith is anything but a huge task. It would be just as foolish to pretend that Georgia will have the same team in Week 2 as it will in Week 13.
But Staples is absolutely right when he writes there’s no way Kirby and the rest of the staff is going to let South Carolina sneak up on this team. Nor is it like South Carolina isn’t facing a major rebuilding of its own on the defensive side of the ball.
I’m starting to think the difference in this game is going to come down to one team already being secure in its offensive skin and the other in the early stages of finding its way with a new scheme and coordinator. That’s ironic, perhaps, given the perception of both head coaches as defensive gurus.