The Gamecock football team will travel to Athens this week to play No. 1 Georgia in the team's first SEC game of the season.
The Daily Gamecock spoke with Owen Warden, the assistant sports editor of The Red and Black, to learn more about the Georgia football team and how they've looked early this season ahead of the two teams' opening conference game. The game is set to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Daily Gamecock: Georgia has started the season 2-0 with two lopsided wins. How would you evaluate the team’s performance so far?
Owen Warden: “It's tough to really evaluate it just because, again, it's two non-Power Five schools. It's a little harder to really evaluate how far they've come this season, unlike a team like South Carolina that has had a test so far.”
“It's a little hard to really tell what this team is, but from what I’ve gleaned a little bit, defense looks great. They're consistently getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing really quick throws at a really high rate.”
“The real weakness for the team so far is the running game. Not a lot of yards so far. There's been a lot of injuries. (Senior running back) Daijun Edwards should be back. He hasn't played in the first two games but (I'm) very interested to see how this team progresses.”
Junior Carson Beck is in his first year as the starting quarterback after Stetson Bennett went to the NFL, so how has he been looking, and what are some of the big differences in his game and Stetson's?
“Stetson had an air about him — that he just found a way to make plays happen, a bit of a smaller guy. Beck is, on paper, a very different player. He stands at about (6-foot-4-inches). He's a tall guy, not necessarily the most mobile. He's not really rolling out of the pocket all too much. But he sees the field really well. He's got probably maybe even a better arm necessarily than Stetson.”
“He's got a lot of just pure quarterback talent. Now, it stands to see if he has that "it" factor that Stetson Bennett had, and you need that, especially if you're going to win a national championship.”
We talked about how UGA hasn't really faced a test yet. What are you hoping to see from the team in this matchup?
“I think just things continuing to come together.”
“Such a big thing for any team is to be tested, and I think South Carolina absolutely has the ability to test Georgia. They haven't in years past, but I came into the season really high on South Carolina. I've come down on them a little bit after the UNC performance, but I still believe this team has a lot of talent, both offensively and defensively. And I think that Georgia being tested would absolutely be really good.”
“I think Georgia, just finding themselves confidence, finding a way to really get the running game going, finding a way to continue to let Carson Beck develop and find players down the field, and really expand the offense. For new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to really reach into his playbook, reach into his bag of tricks and really open up the offense against an opponent that really actually could and maybe should challenge Georgia in this game.”
Is there anything else about Georgia football or just the matchup in general that you'd like to add?
“It is interesting to look at how strong Georgia's special teams have been. Now, they've got a freshman kicker. He did miss a chip shot, which is not a great look for him, but he's looked really good through camp. So it'll be curious to see how he does in this game.”
“(Redshirt sophomore wide receiver) Mekhi Mews’ abilities as a kick and punt returner have been really tremendous for Georgia, and I'm really interested to see how that's going to impact this game.”
Who wins and what is your score prediction?
“I think Georgia ends up taking it."
“I've gone back and forth between how much I thought South Carolina could score. I think they have the potential to put up 17 points on this really strong Georgia defense. But what I ended up settling on is, I think Georgia takes this game 45 to 14."