While South Carolina's defense hung around for a majority of the game, No. 1 Georgia and its potent offense couldn't be stopped in a 24-10 victory over the Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both rank in the Top 20 in the SEC in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry, making them one of the hardest duos to stop in the nation. It did not help that the Gamecocks failed to complete tackles.
There were many occasions on Saturday in which a Georgia player would break a few tackles for a first down and would capitalize later for points.
“We definitely should have just tackled better,” South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore said.
Before the game, South Carolina knew it faced a tough test in defending Chubb and Michel, who combined for 183 of Georgia’s 242 rushing yards, which was 46 yards below the team’s season average. The Gamecocks also held the Bulldogs to only 4.6 yards per carry, which is 1.4 yards below the team’s season average.
What South Carolina did not expect from Georgia was its dynamic passing game.
Quarterback Jake Fromm had a phenomenal game, completing 16 passes on 22 attempts with two touchdowns. This performance gave him an impressive quarterback rating of 177.6, his highest rating this season. His previous high was 97.5 against Florida last week.
“We forced Jake Fromm to play quarterback and I compliment Jake. He played extremely well tonight,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said.
While the end result wasn't in their favor, the Gamecocks had some individual defensive standout performances as well. Moore led the game with 10 total tackles, his second most this season after he recorded 12 against Louisiana Tech. Five of his 10 tackles against the Bulldogs were solo tackles.
Another was two-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the week D.J. Wonnum. Wonnum set a season-high in tackles with nine and tied for the game high with 1.5 tackles for loss. He was also the only Gamecock this game to record a sack, bringing his season total to five.
Conversely to the Gamecocks, the Bulldog defense came up big in this win, holding South Carolina to just 43 rushing yards — its third lowest total this season. A large part of this defensive effort was due to inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who totaled nine tackles and had multiple game highs in solo tackles with seven, tackles for loss with 1.5 and sacks with 1.5.
Before this game, Georgia was one of three teams in the nation to hold a perfect conversion rating in the red zone this year, going 31-for-31 with 22 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs started the 10th play of their first drive in the red zone on the Gamecock’s 20-yard line. That play resulted in a forced fumble by cornerback Steve Montac and was recovered by defensive end Javon Kinlaw. This was the first time Georgia did not put up points inside an opponent’s 20-yard line this season.
The Gamecocks may have lost, but their defense has a lot to look back on. The defense is just the second to keep the Bulldogs from scoring more than 30 points. It was the second time the Bulldogs did not win by more than 14 points.
“We competed hard. You don’t see anybody giving up or backing down from them. We really came out and I thought we played hard,” quarterback Jake Bentley said.