UGA offensive line faces tall task vs. Gamecocks

ATHENS  – After several days spent watching tape of South Carolina’s defense, Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend was struck by what he had not noticed.

“I was … trying to remember when I saw one score [against the Gamecocks],” Friend said. “I couldn’t think of a team I saw cross the goal line yet.”

It has happened, but rarely.

South Carolina’s defense has allowed only five touchdowns out of 67 opponent drives this season, meaning the opposition has scored a touchdown on 7.5 percent of its possessions. Contrast that to Georgia’s offense, which has scored 31 touchdowns on 74 drives, a 41.9 percent rate.

How well Georgia's offensive line protects QB Aaron Murray will be key against South Carolina's tall, tough defense. (Photo/UGA Sports)

How well Georgia's offensive line protects QB Aaron Murray will be key against South Carolina's tall, tough defense. (Photo/UGA Sports)

All of which should make for a compelling clash Saturday night in Columbia.

Georgia’s offense has averaged 48.2 points and 536 yards (287 passing and 249 rushing) per game. But how will it fare against a defense that has allowed just 11.2 points and 289 yards (78 rushing and 211 passing) per game?

The answer starts with how Georgia’s offensive line, a question mark when the season began, fares against South Carolina’s vaunted defensive front, which is led by a pair of towering ends in 6-foot-6 Jadeveon Clowney and 6-8 Devin Taylor.

“We understand the impact they can have on the game, so we’re going to try to do something that can help thwart that,” said right guard Chris Burnette, the only Georgia offensive lineman available for interviews this week. “I feel like whenever you play in the SEC, you are playing against top-tier talent, always. But this defensive line really has a high reputation around the league and the country as guys who are great at getting to the quarterback and stopping the run.

“We definitely know that we are challenged, and we are going to take it head-on.”

One of the bigger challenges awaits freshman right tackle John Theus, playing just his sixth college game. “Yeah, [this week] is a little bit different,” Friend said with a laugh that emphasized the understatement, from what Theus has experienced thus far.

Clowney, a sophomore, and Taylor, a senior, have combined for 30.5 career sacks — 13.5 and 17, respectively. This season, Clowney has 5.5, second most in the SEC, and Taylor 1.5. As a team, South Carolina has 22, most in the SEC. The Gamecocks’ defensive front, responsible for 18 of the sacks, is stout against the run, too, allowing just two rushing touchdowns in five games.

“I saw where one of those ESPN expert guys thought we had the best defensive line in the country with those two ends and our inside guys [tackles Byron Jerideau and Kelcy Quarles], who are pretty dang good players also,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.

Georgia’s starting offensive line has been stable this season: Kenarious Gates at left tackle, Dallas Lee at left guard, David Andrews at center, Burnette at right guard and Theus at right tackle. The group’s easier-said-than-done challenge Saturday is to provide passing time for quarterback Aaron Murray, whose fumble after being sacked by Clowney late in last year’s game sealed South Carolina’s victory, and running room for tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

Teams have had more success throwing against South Carolina’s secondary than running against its defensive front, suggesting potential opportunity for Murray if his line protects him.

Not surprisingly, the Gamecocks’ towering defensive ends came up during the quarterback’s weekly treat of his offensive linemen to ice cream.

“We talked about it,” Murray said. “I know they are extremely excited for the challenge, and they’ll be ready to go.”

So far, they have a record of responding to challenges, dating to the start of spring practice.

“In the spring, they knew they weren’t very good. Especially early on, it was just really bad,” coach Mark Richt said this week. “They knew they got better [during the spring], but they knew they had a long way to go. I think that really helped them have a great summer.

“They all decided to get up at 6 a.m. together every time they worked out. They all showed up, and they worked. They knew they better get better in a hurry. Then in [preseason] camp, things started to come together.”

On Saturday, in a game between top-10 teams, the progress of Georgia’s offensive line will be definitively measured.

“This game will definitely be the best gauge,” Richt said. “South Carolina’s defense is playing great. They’re not playing good; they’re playing great. They are kind of used to playing great.. … Without a doubt, this is the biggest test for our offensive line.”

– Tim Tucker

South Carolina’s defense by the numbers (with SEC rank in parentheses):

Touchdowns allowed: 5 (T-1st)

Points allowed per game: 11.2 (2nd)

Sacks: 22 (1st)

Total yards allowed per game: 289 (3rd)

Rushing yards allowed per game: 78 (2nd)

Passing yards allowed per game: 211 (7th)

IF  YOU MISSED IT IN THE PAST FEW DAYS …

332 comments Add your comment

Doogsga

October 5th, 2012
7:25 am

Enter your comments here

Doogsga

October 5th, 2012
7:25 am

Enter your comments here1st and second?

The Central Scrutinizer

October 5th, 2012
7:26 am

Go DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!

ZinoDawg

October 5th, 2012
7:27 am

It will be the Dawgs D that jumps up and steals this one.

Dawgs 27
Chickens 17

Nothing Could Be Finer

October 5th, 2012
7:40 am

Forecast for Saturday:

Clowney with 100% Chance of Pain

old time dog

October 5th, 2012
7:41 am

Got to get it on. Two game will determine the season S C and Flordia. The good news about a cupcake sdchedule is it is easy to have a good winning percentage. The bad news is if you lose to the few good teams it screams about your program.

KeepDreaming

October 5th, 2012
7:43 am

Clowney is nowhere to been seen on Saturday:

Dawgs 35
Chickens 6

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
7:51 am

Neither of these teams will go undefeated. Have they ever?

Still, it will be interesting to see which one is exposed first.

Lonnie

October 5th, 2012
8:05 am

This is our coming out party! Minimize mistakes and follow assignments. We will do well! Let’s go Dawgs!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:07 am

The only thing that UGA should worry about is that Conservative Richt and Bobo stay home while High scoring Richt and Bobo show up

beanster

October 5th, 2012
8:08 am

“I saw where one of those ESPN expert guys”

I hate the man but as others have said I think I will miss him when he retires.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:09 am

SC has 3 great players to UGA’s 10

UGA 30
SC 10

Carolina Bays

October 5th, 2012
8:10 am

The Evil Genius will once again prevail over wannabe coach Muck Rickety.

Call it USC 42, UGA 24 on a lovely evening in Columbia.

beanster

October 5th, 2012
8:13 am

and here come the Tech fans disguised as SC fans……yaaawwwwnnnnn…..it’s still too early for you children yet

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:14 am

@Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

Players rarely win football games. Teams do.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:14 am

SC doesnt get another give away game again

sorry chickens

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:16 am

@beanster

You’re right. South Carolina has no fans.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:17 am

Billy Joe Bobby

Players rarely win football games

Its big time players that help teams win championships obviously you havent watched much football

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:22 am

That’s obvious, huh?

Check back with me next Staurday. ;)

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:23 am

Or Saturday… Whichever comes first. ;)

Eastside Ramblers

October 5th, 2012
8:23 am

Gamecocks are famous for mediocre teams and snatching defeat from the hands of victory, but Gamecocks by 10.

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:24 am

@Eastside Ramblers

I agree with Flat Tire. Georgia has more talent.

Unfortunately, they also have Coach Richt. I smell a choke job.

Joey

October 5th, 2012
8:26 am

I hope we run some things to slow down the pass rush – draws, QB draws, and heaven forbid, a screen or so. Quick-hit passes to the TEs and RBs.

Bobo better leave the slow developing plays alone this week.

If the O-line protects, Murray will kill SC’s defense.

DIT

October 5th, 2012
8:28 am

I’m a staunch believer in defense wins championships. If UGA’s D was playing to the hype at the begining of the year I would say that UGA wins this one. However, as much as I hate to say it, SC’s D will slow down the run tremendously and make us one dimensional. Not feeling it for this game. SC’s D wins this one 17-10.
Trust me, I hope our offense can prove me wrong!!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:28 am

That is true we do have Richt

You forgot to add Bobo

And if I defense looks like it did last week you can add Grantham too while you’re at it

Destin Dawg

October 5th, 2012
8:29 am

S.C. is favored by 2 or 3 before Michael Bennett’s injury.. it will be a close hard fought game.. lots of defense… Lattimore looks slower than last year and Shaw’s shoulder has been banged up.. limit turnovers hopefully not more than one.. and we win with our balanced attack UGA 31 S.C. 21

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:29 am

@Joey

What is the biggest game that Aaron Murray has won?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:30 am

DIT

If Richt loses this ball game with the talent he has he needs to go

Billy Joe Bobby

October 5th, 2012
8:31 am

@Destin Dawg

You’re right. Neither Lattimore nor Shaw is 100%.

This game should be a cakewalk for Georgia. maybe it will be?

Tom Resident Georgia Fan

October 5th, 2012
8:35 am

Throw out both team’s OOC cupcakes and they have played three SEC teams: Georgia destroyed Vandy, beat Mizzou by 21, and beat UT in a game very similar to last year’s SC game. As for SC they have played Vandy (eked by), Mizzou (won by 21 also), and crushed Kentucky after not showing up in the first half. SC’s stats ought to look good; they’s played a weak schedule. Their D is good but it will give up more than one home run and several bombs Saturday. Dogs outscore and outpace the Lattimore offense.

loel

October 5th, 2012
8:37 am

Correct me if I am wrong, but SC has not played Georgia’s offense this year. Vandy was on the edge of beating them. Missouri in their first ever road SEC game showed they were not ready. Kentucky offered little. Georgia scored 51 points with over three minutes left in the third quarter, all by the offense. That means they scored the 51 in two quarters and twelve minutes. pretty good huh. so who is SC???????

Joe 12Pack

October 5th, 2012
8:37 am

South Carolina fans don’t have computers.

Joey

October 5th, 2012
8:40 am

Billy Joe, probably to date, Auburn 45-7 last season, 4 TD passes – you know the same Auburn that beat SC. He also beat UF, and UT twice, and murdered Vandy by 45, while you boys sneaked a 4- point win.

I’ll admit Murray lost to our 4 biggest oponents last season, but it was a team effort, not just Murray that lost.

If, if we win tomorrow, it would be his biggest so far.

DIT

October 5th, 2012
8:41 am

@ Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

Yes, the talent is there no doubt, but if you have told me even with the suspensions that our defense would look this average coming into the SC game at the start of the year, I would have said you are crazy. Again, I sure hope they prove me wrong.
I never would have thought this year that I would worry more about the defense than offense. If this offense can run for at least 150 yards it will keep the passing game open and give us a chance.
I don’t buy Latimore not being effective in this game. He might not be at 100%, but he has played in the game twice and has shredded us both times. He will be up and ready for tomorrow.
Heck, I guess that’s why we play the game. A shoot out would favor us so let’s do hope for a high scoring game.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:41 am

The only thing SC has is good bar b que

bubba4dawgs

October 5th, 2012
8:42 am

Last year, the DAWGS had the game under control except for that fateful play when Clowney cakewalked thru the line and grabbed Murray. It was not a missed block. It was an ignored block! It was like Murray was given to Clowney! Murray has to learn to turk the ball and hopefully live for another play. Even Spurrier said after the game that they dodged a bullet! That play was the turning point of the game.

Well, I believe the DAWGS are better this year in spite of the stats on the defense indicating otherwise. They seem to rise to the occasion when they have to. They are on a mission and know the importance of this game and should come out fighting. They will leave it all on the field. Clowney has put a new wrinkle in his charge thru the line. He likes to spin while raising his arm over the defender’s head and speed past him. He’s clever, huge and fast. A small man protecting Murray is not going to stop him. Remember the team’s slogan: “Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets”! GO DAWGS!!!

Devil_Dawg

October 5th, 2012
8:42 am

I agree with Flat tire. If UGA loses this game this coaching staff needs to go. I dont care how many points they score. This team is loaded with talent from top to bottom they outmatch SC at almost all positions. It will blatently be Bobo’s and Richt fault for being out coached.

DIT

October 5th, 2012
8:42 am

“If, if we win tomorrow, it would be his biggest so far.”
______________

Absolutley correct!

Nothing Could Be Finer

October 5th, 2012
8:43 am

Flat Tire on I-20 in Augusta

DIT

October 5th, 2012
8:44 am

@Devil_Dawg – Just throwing this out there, but what happens if the offense is on fire yet the defense totally collapse?Is it still Bobo’s and Richt’s fault?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:47 am

DIT

Concerning the sloppy D play; this doesnt surprise me

why?

This is a Richt coached team and Richt has shown year after a lack of consitancy

This why I laugh at the kool-aid “we are winning the national title this year” garbage from a lot fans on here

Nothing Could Be Finer

October 5th, 2012
8:49 am

Don’t be surprised if Erin Murray doen’t make it through the entire game.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 5th, 2012
8:50 am

consistency

add year after, after

82Dawg

October 5th, 2012
8:51 am

@ Flat Tire & Devil_Dawg….Last time I checked the coaches don’t play the game. They will have the PLAYERS ready. It is up to the PLAYERS to execute.

DIT

October 5th, 2012
8:52 am

Fair enough Flat!

I for one, like yourself that did not see a NC team this year. Pieces have to fall perfectly into place to win the NC and UGA has too many pieces out of place.
I admit, I’m a strong Richt supporter and I wish that he would turn this ship around. Personally, I don’t see a head coach that can come in immediatley and bring us to the next level. I guess i should say a proven HC that is available.

gdawginkalamazoo

October 5th, 2012
8:53 am

Is this the weekend that Murray earns his DGD dog collar? He will have to step up, not fumble and not throw those infamous pick 6’s at the most inopportune times like he does in the big games. Top 10 program we are facing so it is time to get on it and prove something.

CL

October 5th, 2012
8:54 am

The RB’s have to help block on the ends bottom line. Read the defense make adjustments before the play with the Freshman RB’s. It might be better to start Samuel on this one since he knows how to block and read the defense.

DIT

October 5th, 2012
8:54 am

@gdawginkalamazoo
______________

100% agree with that statement

chase

October 5th, 2012
8:58 am

Dawgs win by 10+

Nothing Could Be Finer

October 5th, 2012
8:58 am

gdawginkalamazoo

October 5th, 2012
8:53 am

Is this the weekend that Murray earns his DGD dog collar?
—————————–
Erin Murray won’t survive through the second quarter.

That weak o-line is no match for Clowney & Co.