COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend was careful to point out throughout the Bulldogs’ early-season offensive successes that his rebuilding group still had a lot of progress to make before he would call it a dominant unit.
South Carolina’s defensive front showed why Friend tried to temper the enthusiasm about his players, as the Gamecocks completely controlled the line of scrimmage en route to a 35-7 victory.
“I didn’t see us, especially in the first half, being able to generate a drive because their front was whipping us,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team fell behind 21-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes. “So you hope to make a play here and there to change the momentum of the game and we just couldn’t get it done.”
They couldn’t get it done because a previously dominant running game ran into a brick wall. Freshman Todd Gurley, who came in as the SEC’s leading rusher, broke a 15-yard run on his first carry and never got another one that long. He finished with 13 carries for 39 yards, while fellow freshman sensation Keith Marshall ran 12 times for 37 yards.
Ken Malcome actually led the Bulldogs with 45 rushing yards on five carries, including their only score -- a 3-yard run when the game was already well out of reach -- on a night that was otherwise a disaster in every way for the Bulldogs’ previously high-scoring offense.
The Bulldogs finished with seven points and 224 total yards -- 41 points and 312 yards below their per-game averages -- thanks in large part to do much of anything at all early in posssessions.
“They’re very talented, especially in their front four, but I think we killed ourselves with too many third-and-longs,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. “When you’re in third-and-long and they know you have to throw the ball, those ends can gear up and that whole defensive line -- every defense does that.
“That’s a goal of every defense is to get third-and-long and put the offense in a passing situation and let their front four do work. That’s our problem. We put ourselves in that situation. We need to do better on first and second down in order to not let that happen.”
And it wasn’t just South Carolina’s star defensive ends, Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, who made plays. Defensive end Chaz Sutton had one of the Gamecocks’ two sacks -- Clowney had the other -- and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles deflected a Murray pass that resulted in the game’s only turnover, a first-quarter interception by DeVonte Holloman.
“The front five, it was all of us that were making mistakes and not getting the job done,” Georgia right guard Chris Burnette said. “We definitely want to make sure that we can figure out those issues and try to fix them for the next game.”
The Bulldogs knew coming in that South Carolina’s deep and talented defensive front would create the greatest challenge they’d faced yet. After the Gamecocks dominated the line of scrimmage throughout, Richt acknowledged that they were as good as advertised.
“Their defense the entire night just took care of business,” Richt said. “We’ve got to give them a lot of credit. We got the consolation touchdown at the end just so we didn’t get the goose egg, but they whipped us pretty good.”