After an electric finish in Greenville, head football coach Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks will face their hardest test of the season when they take on the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs. South Carolina travels to Athens following a hot 2-0 start to the year.
The Gamecocks lost the contest last year, but the last time the team was in Athens in 2019 the Gamecocks upset the No. 5 Bulldogs 20-17 in overtime between the hedges. The hero in that game was former Gamecocks cornerback Israel Mukuamu, who tallied three interceptions.
Georgia holds a heavy lead in the overall record between the two teams, leading the series 52-19. The Bulldogs are 2-0 on the year and began the season by knocking off the No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers.
Beamer spoke in length about his opponent in his weekly media availability Tuesday.
“We’ve got a huge challenge this week with Georgia,” Beamer said.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart started at Georgia as an assistant in 2015 and was promoted the following year to head coach. Beamer was named Smart’s special teams coordinator when Smart was promoted.
Smart had nothing but good things to say about his former understudy Monday.
“He’s always had the leadership qualities that would make a good head coach," Smart said.
Likewise, Beamer praised Smart in his weekly media availability on Tuesday.
“Kirby has done an amazing job there in his time of elevating that program to an even higher level than what it already was when he got the job," Beamer said. “Got tons of respect for him. He's a great friend, somebody that made me a better coach in my two years working for him.”
Beamer praised the Georgia team, saying that it is one of the most talented teams Kirby has probably had as coach.
“He may have, probably does have, the most talented football team in the history of Georgia football," Beamer said. “The talent just jumps off the tape at you,” Beamer.
When talking about the keys to stopping Georgia, Beamer said “The line of scrimmage in this game. It’s gonna be a big boy football game. I know what their philosophy and mentality is at Georgia and that's to line up and run the ball down your throat.”
The Gamecocks will not name a starting quarterback until game time, just like last weekend against East Carolina. Luke Doty will be healthy and “ready to roll for Saturday night,” Beamer said.
When speaking on the Gamecocks quarterback room Kirby Smart said “We got to see Luke last year. Doty, he's an incredible athlete. He creates problems in terms of extending plays.”
Smart also complemented graduate transfer Zeb Noland.
“My man just down the road right here, Zeb’s done a good job," Smart said. "He’s come in and done really well. I’m good friends with his dad, and getting to watch him play in those first two games was unique."
Georgia also brings quarterback questions into Saturday’s contest. Week one starting quarterback, junior JT Daniels, did not play last week due to a “side torso muscle strain” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Daniels threw 22-30 for 135 yards in the Bulldogs upset win over Clemson.
Georgia’s backup is senior Stetson Bennett, who started in the Bulldogs' week two match up against UAB. Bennet was 10-12 for 288 yards and five touchdowns in that game.
The Atlanta Journalism-Constitution also reported Tuesday that Bennet was also dealing with an injury issue.
“(Bennett) strained some stuff,” Smart said Tuesday. “He’s able to go, but I don’t know if he’s 100%."
The Georgia defense will no doubt cause problems for the Gamecocks. It is third in the SEC in sacks and tied for first with the Gamecocks in interceptions, most notably holding the No. 3 Clemson to 3 points and two total rushing yards in the game.
Kick off is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN.