The Daily Gamecock

Behind Enemy Lines: 5 questions with Connor Smolensky, sports editor of The Red & Black

Gurley continues Heisman push, Mason settles in at starting quarterback role

1. Running back Todd Gurley is one of the early frontrunners for the Heisman after his performance against Clemson. What makes him so good, and do you see him being able to sustain that success this year?

Gurley has been impressive throughout his time at Georgia, and I think the thing w hat makes him so successful is that he just does not want to go down. It’s really hard to tackle Gurley; he’s 6-foot-1, 226 pounds and has the speed of a track star. He runs harder than anyone I’ve seen in my four years at Georgia, and he showed great vision against Clemson with a couple cutback runs for long gains. Gurley was impressive last year as well, but missed the better part of four games with an ankle injury. That’s what Georgia is trying to prevent this year. Gurley had only four carries in the first half of the Clemson game, and finished the game with 15. He rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns, and I think he will continue to have success throughout the year. The only thing that will prevent him from getting his yards and scores will be injury. But with Georgia’s stock of running backs, I don’t think Gurley will get overworked.

2. What do you think of quarterback Hutson Mason as the full-time starter now that he has one game under his belt in that role?

It’s hard to say because Georgia fans didn’t really see much from Mason against Clemson. Mason finished the game the game 18-for-26 with 131 passing yards. He did what he had to do. Mason ended the game with a 111.55 passer efficiency rating, but his longest completion was a 23-yard completion to Michael Bennett. Georgia didn’t really stretch the field at all, but it didn’t have to because it was having so much success on the ground. I think I’ll have a better answer for this question after Saturday’s game.

3. The Bulldogs have struggled at Williams-Brice Stadium in recent history. What do you think has given Georgia so many fits there and what do you think will be different about the 2014 installment of the rivalry?

I can’t say for sure, but I know that coach Richt always comments on how hard it is to play in Columbia. Georgia hasn’t scored many points in Williams-Brice in the past 10 years, and maybe the Bulldogs can’t handle Sandstorm. I don’t know what to tell you about the past, but I think Georgia will be ready this time around. They had two weeks to prepare for the Gamecocks, and the Bulldogs will be well-rested heading into Saturday. South Carolina doesn’t seem like the same team they’ve been in the past, and I think Georgia looked stronger in its opener.

4. How much improvement have you seen out of the Bulldog defense throughout fall camp and after one regular season game?

Based on the Clemson game, the Georgia defense looks better than last year’s squad. It’s tough to say because the Bulldogs only played one game, but a shutout in the second half against Clemson is something to be encouraged about. The defense still looked a little shaky, but Georgia was getting after the quarterback with ease in the second half. [Defensive Coordinator Jeremy] Pruitt moved around a lot players — putting Damian Swann at linebacker, Leonard Floyd at nose tackle — and it seemed to cause some confusion on the Clemson offense. The front seven is strong like everyone expected, but the secondary is still unproven.

5. Who is a player to look out for on the Georgia team that Gamecock fans may not have heard of?

I don’t know how familiar South Carolina fans are with Georgia, but sophomore outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is a player to watch. He’s a lean-looking athlete, but he is explosive and gets up the field to the quarterback in a hurry. He had seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries against Clemson. Another player to keep on eye on is freshman running back Nick Chubb. Chubb got his first carries against Clemson and made the most of them, taking four carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. Chubb backs up Gurley with fellow freshman Sony Michel and junior Keith Marshall, but his performance two weeks ago may be good enough to give him some more carries on Saturday.


I’ll go with Georgia 34-24. I don’t think South Carolina is what everyone expected them to be. While I don’t think Gurley will have the same day he did against Clemson, he’s still going to get his yards. I think Mason proves what he is capable of, and Georgia improves to 2-0.