- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Georgia’s coaches and players said their season goal of playing for a BCS championship is not an impossibility after Saturday’s loss at South Carolina -- but in truth, it will take a minor miracle for the Bulldogs to even be in the title conversation after the Gamecocks delivered a 35-7 thrashing at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Mark Richt’s Bulldogs (5-1 (3-1 SEC) enter their bye week searching for answers, after South Carolina jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes and controlled throughout -- following five straight weeks where Georgia’s offense could almost do no wrong. Let’s take a look at some of what went right and wrong for the Bulldogs:
1. Avoiding a shutout: When this is the No. 1 positive thing about a game, that says it all. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been Georgia’s nemesis for years and he notched the 250th win of his career on Saturday. And he nearly had a shutout until Bulldogs tailback Ken Malcome capped Georgia’s final possession with a garbage-time touchdown that prevented the Bulldogs from getting shut out for the first time since 1995.
2. Geathers’ block: Kwame Geathers blocked his second kick of the season in the third quarter, batting down a 33-yard field-goal try by Adam Yates. It was Georgia’s first blocked field goal since the 2009 Independence Bowl win against Texas A&M. Geathers had also blocked a PAT against Florida Atlantic this season.
3. Malcome’s running: It looked like many of the Bulldogs had given up by the end, but Malcome was not one of them. The sophomore tailback ran five times for 45 yards on the Bulldogs’ final drive, with his 3-yard touchdown run preventing the shutout.
1. Offensive line struggles: There is no way around it. South Carolina’s defensive front simply had its way against a Georgia offensive line that had been pretty good through the first five games. The Bulldogs were completely unable to run the ball until their final drive and as a result, they were regularly in third-and-long situations where the Gamecocks pressured quarterback Aaron Murray into multiple scattershot throws and incompletions.
2. Containing Shaw: Georgia actually kept noted Bulldog killer Marcus Lattimore (24 carries, 109 yards, TD) from being the difference in the outcome, but they had no such luck against South Carolina’s dual-threat quarterback Connor Shaw. The Georgia native led a pair of impressive touchdown drives in the first quarter and ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown that made it 35-0.
3. Losing composure: Georgia was doubtlessly concerned about struggling against the electric environment in South Carolina’s home stadium and the game’s first 10 minutes showed why. The Bulldogs were on their heels almost immediately and allowed South Carolina’s momentum to snowball until they were already out of the game by halftime.