Five takeaways from Georgia’s win over South Carolina
South Carolina returned to the scene where it caused a major upheaval two years ago on Saturday night and this time things have gone in a more orderly fashion for Georgia.
The No.2 Bulldogs have won at Sanford Stadium for the 24th time in the last 25 games with that thwarted double overtime in 2019, the only home flaw since the start of the 2017 season.
This time, Georgia weathered tough times in the first half and took a 40-13 victory as JT Daniels returned as a starting quarterback and the defense kept the Gamecocks out of the zone. goals until the game is out of reach.
Here are five takeaways from the Bulldogs’ SEC 3-0 opener:
A triumphant return for JT Daniels
Daniels has shown he is ready to return to action after missing the UAB rout last week with an oblique injury.
Stetson Bennett’s record five touchdown passes last week in the 56-7 blowout earned him some game time in the first half, but Daniels returned to his starting role.
He sliced ââthrough the Gamecocks’ secondary, completing 23 of 31 passes for 303 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception at the end of the third quarter.
âI felt really, really confident and a lot of that goes back to Ron Courson and all of the medical and training staff,â said Daniels, who rehabilitates three times a day. “I’ve had muscle tightness and strain and tears before and I’ve never had one that heals so quickly and I feel as good as I do now.”
Daniels found the explosive plays that were missing in Game 1 against Clemson when he landed a shot from a Clemson linebacker the first time he fell back to throw.
This time he connected with Jermaine Burton for a 43-yard touchdown – Burton’s second long TD in as many weeks – then found Adonai Mitchell on a 38-yard touchdown in the first half.
âA big part is just taking what the defense gives us,â Daniels said. âThis defense was schematically similar to UAB in a few areas. They play fast, hard and disciplined. They weren’t broken covers. They were where they were meant to be.
Daniels was 8 of 9 for 119 yards in the first two series, but like last week, Kirby Smart went to the No.2 quarterback in the third series. Last week it was Carson Beck. This time it was Bennett who quickly knocked down Brock Bowers on his first interception attempt. Smart said part of it was about Bowers walking his “somewhat shallow” route.
Daniels played for most of the game and he was lethal on third base in the first half, shooting 4 of 4 for 44 yards. On a 90-yard drive, he completed third passes to Kearis Jackson for 8 and Mitchell for 17 and 8 to move the chains.
Daniels has improved to 6-0 as a Georgia starter since the start of Southern Cal’s transfer with four games to go last season following an ACL tear.
âJT played with a high level of confidence, believed in the guys and gave them the ball,â said Smart.
Mitchell is not just a spring sensation
Adonai Mitchell hit the net behind the West Zone goal post after hitting his first collegiate touchdown.
Mitchell got behind the Gamecocks defense and hit a Daniels pass for a 38-yard touchdown.
âI think AD is a special player,â said offensive guard Warren Ericson. “He was very focused on this catch. Something good is going to happen to him when the ball is in his hands.”
Mitchell had four catches for 77 yards, all in the first half.
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On Georgia’s third practice – an 11 play and an 80 yard walk – Mitchell got receptions of 17 and 8 for the third downs, then Daniels found him in the back of the field for the score.
âHe’s talented,â Smart said. “He is learning to work, Jermaine Burton was a talented wide receiver last year and we thought he would improve by playing.”
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound early enlistment from Missouri City, TX created the buzz with his seven catches for 105 yards and one touchdown in the G-Day Spring Game and had two catches for 42 yards in the first two games, but drew some passing interference against Clemson.
âHe’s talented,â Smart said. “He has very good speed at first. He deserved it. He did plays.
Georgia are expected to recover tight end Darnell Washington (foot) in time for some key October games, but Jackson saw his first catcher action this season.
He had two catches for 17 yards on two targets.
âIt was great to have 10 back,â Daniels said. “We missed him and I missed him.”
Defense crouches again
The Georgia defense made Oconee County’s Zeb Noland return home at Sanford Stadium short. Zoland left on the Gamecocks’ first offensive possession with a right hand injury and did not return.
The Bulldogs held the Gamecocks (2-1, 0-1 SEC) to 310 yards overall, a season-high against them, but much of it came with the game decided long ago.
The Georgian defense hadn’t allowed a touchdown all season until Josh Vann defeated Ameer Speed ââon the left sideline for a 36-yard touchdown from Doty with 10:55 left in the game.
The Gamecocks were limited to a pair of Parker White goals previously of 37 and 27 yards.
âI thought the guys were playing really hard,â said Smart. “So many guys played a big part in this game, it seemed like the wealth was spread defensively and offensively.”
The defense has now matched their opponents’ attacks by scoring 16-16.
Coordinator Dan Lanning’s group scored more points for a third straight game.
After getting a six pick in each of the first two games, this time Georgia posted a safety with 24 seconds left in the first half to make it 23-6.
Big Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith combined to corral quarterback Luke Doty on the play. The Bulldogs had three sacks in the evening to give them 13 in two games.
“They’re really, really good which is why they have the best defense in the country,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. “They’re tough to handle football so it wasn’t a magic plan they went out with tonight. They’ve got five-star rookies all over the place and they played physically.”
Noland, Luke Doty and Jason Brown combined to go 14 of 29 for 214 yards.
Georgia entered the game leading the country in total defense with 177 yards per game and tied for first in defensive scoring at 5.0 per game.
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Nolan Smith all over Gamecocks
Azeez Ojulari now plays in the NFL, but the Bulldogs are produced by his buddies he left behind.
Nolan Smith tied his career high with 1 Â½ sacks against the Gamecocks and set a new Bulldog personal best with 8 tackles including 5 solo.
âI love being myself and pushing my guys, pushing my team every day, even if I’m not making a play, someone else can make a play,â Smith said. “You just have to be horny for your brothers and I’m 100% one of those guys and love to be horny for my brothers. When they do a play, I feel like I’m doing a play.”
Smith forced a fumble in the third quarter which Quay Walker recovered and teamed up on a first-half safety.
âIt’s an extra effort, a guy coming out,â said Smart. “Both of these games were hard-hitting games in the game.”
The Savannah native who played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Had the kind of play expected of a nation’s No. 1 ranked player in the 2019 category.
The 6-3, 235-pound outside linebacker teamed up with Doty’s safety to give the Georgia defense two runs.
Smith has 2Â½ sacks this season. This matches his total for 2019 and 2020.
Muschamp’s Georgia special teams do their job
Will Muschamp, who stepped in to oversee Georgia’s special teams this summer, saw the Bulldogs hitting units clash with his old team.
Speed ââknocked down a Jake Camarda punt at the 1-yard line in the dying minutes of the first half, putting the Bulldogs to safety.
Kenny McIntosh returned 28 yards from the free kick to help set up a 36-yard Jack Podlesny field goal before halftime.
âIt’s just the elite,â said Smart. âWe’re practicing this all camp. I thought it was a really good streak to steal five points.
Podlesny, the Bulldogs Peach Bowl hero, started the season 1 of 3 on field goals with misses of 36 and 32, but started this one to give Georgia a 26-6 lead at mid-point. -time.
âIt was great to get Pod back on track,â said Smart.
Before the game on the field, Muschamp spoke to White and patted punter Kai Kroeger on the helmet and greeted and hugged several Gamecock staff.
Muschamp was fired after a 2-5 start last season in his fifth season in Colombia.
Gamecocks first-year coach Beamer was instrumental in recruiting Camarda and John FitzPatrick to Georgia when he served as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach under Smart in 2016 and 2017.
Camarda averaged 51.7 yards on 3 punts on Saturday with two inside the 20s.