Georgia ranks higher as a rival for South Carolina than vice versa, according to Steve Spurrier.
“I think Georgia is our biggest conference rival, although we’re certainly not their biggest conference rival,” the South Carolina coach said Wednesday. “They’ve got Florida and Auburn. … At South Carolina, we still have not beaten teams enough for them to consider us a big rival. … I don’t think Georgia sees us as a big rival.”
That may change, of course, if the Gamecocks keep winning.
They beat the Bulldogs the past two seasons and will be trying for their first-ever three-game winning streak against Georgia on Saturday — a point that some UGA players say coach Mark Richt made to them early this week.
“We don’t like to make history in a negative way,” Richt said. “It would be the first time in the history of the school that has happened, so we definitely don’t want to be on that end of the historical event.”
Despite the back-to-back losses, Georgia leads the all-time series 46-16-2, including 13-7 since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992. The Bulldogs are 19-8-2 in Columbia. This is the sixth time South Carolina has had a two-game winning streak in the series, which dates to 1894.
Receivers vow to step up
Georgia’s other receivers vowed to fill the hole in the offense left by the season-ending knee injury to Michael Bennett.
“To see a guy work so hard from January until now and have a freak accident in practice and be out the rest of the season, it [stinks],” receiver Marlon Brown said. “As a group, we need to step up, but I feel like so far everybody who has been playing has been stepping up.
“I’ll miss Mike, [quarterback Aaron] Murray will miss Mike for sure, but I feel like with the guys we have now we’ll be fine and we’ll keep on rolling.”
Said receiver Chris Conley: “When the news broke, everyone was a little bit shocked. But I think the guys all came together and were, like, ‘We know what Bennett was capable of on the field, but we feel like we still have weapons and we feel like we shouldn’t let him down by slowing down at all.’”
The injury figures to accelerate Malcolm Mitchell’s transition back to primarily an offensive role. He starred at receiver last season, played defense (cornerback) through the first four weeks of this season and began focusing again on offense last week.
“We have a ton of great receivers,” Mitchell said. “… You can’t replace Michael Bennett, of course, but we do have great receivers.”
Jones 100 percent?
The strained groin muscle that first bothered linebacker Jarvis Jones during the week of the Missouri game and sidelined him from the Florida Atlantic game might not be back to normal, Richt suggested.
“I don’t know if he would say that is bothering him,” Richt said, “but I’ve got a feeling it’s probably not 100 percent right now. He’s not going to sit there and make an excuse, but I’m not sure it’s 100 percent.”
Jones has played the past two games and is fully participating in practice.
Georgia is 3-9 when ESPN’s “College GameDay” preview show airs from the game site, as it will Saturday. That includes 3-3 in the opponent’s stadium, 0-2 at home, 0-3 in Jacksonville and 0-1 in Atlanta (2011 SEC Championship game). … Saturday will mark the eighth time under Richt that Georgia plays a game in which both teams are ranked in the nation’s top 10. Georgia is 3-4 in the previous seven. Georgia is ranked No. 5 and South Carolina No. 6. … Richt is 4-4 against Spurrier as a head coach. Richt’s first Georgia team lost to Spurrier’s final Florida team in 2001, and Georgia is 4-3 against South Carolina since Spurrier became the Gamecocks’ coach in 2005.
– Tim Tucker
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