UGA-South Carolina X&O/Advanced Stat Preview
Okay, we’re back with our second advanced stat/film preview of the year. This is basically a longform version of my notes for the UGA-USC Film Preview Show that Josh Hancher and I recorded last night on the DawgsCentral YouTube channel. If you want to see the film that created these conclusions then give it a watch right here:
South Carolina Offense vs UGA Defense
Simply put, South Carolina’s offense has looked quite choppy and inconsistent through two weeks. There are a lot of issues, but the biggest so far has been the South Carolina offensive line...
- South Carolina - TEAM run block grade of 35.4… YIKES
- The highest Run Block grade among the South Carolina starting offensive lineman is Dylan Woonum’s 51.6.
- Jaheim Bell (#0) is South Carolina’s best player and athlete. He’s a do it all kind of guy. Plays a lot of different positions… TE, WR, Wildcat QB, HB, etc. They want to get him the ball, so much so that they will just hand it off to him out of the backfield. They particularly like him in short yardage. Here’s the reality… He won’t scare UGA and he shouldn’t. He is fast for a big man but against Arkansas there were plays where SoCar tried to run him on Shotgun Sweeps and he’s just not fast enough to get to the Edge against SEC defenses.
- South Carolina’s offense at its picture perfect best looks like this- Get the run game going well enough to make a defense respect it, and then get Rattler rolling right and use PA Boots and moving pockets.
- Rattler threw for 371 last week with 2 TD/1 INT. 173 of those yards came in a wild fourth quarter. Arkansas was up a couple scores the whole time but USC flew down the field over and over in the final period. South Carolina had just 16 points when they got the ball back with 7:39 to go in the 4th and was able to tack on two late TD’s.
- Rattler is better on the move, particularly rolling right off of play-action. That’s his little happy place. When he gets the ball in his hands out there he looks comfortable and accurate. UGA will want to set that edge and make it hard for him to roll to his right. The DB’s need to watch the South Carolina WR’s on comeback routes especially.
- Rattler’s favorite WR through 2 weeks is Antwan “Juice” Wells (#3). He’s had 18 targets for 15 receptions for 244 yards and a TD. Wells is good with 50/50 balls and he is strong after the catch. Georgia’s DB’s are big enough to jump with him but they need to be aware of tackling him to the ground.
- The problem for the Gamecocks? Arkansas keyed on the PA Boot stuff. They covered the short Flat route and the deep sideline route and SoCar didn’t have a defender to put in conflict. Rattler looked lost pretty quick and Arkansas sacked him out of the pocket. SEC LB’s and DE’s can close quickly on Rattler. He’s not that fleet footed.
- Rattler still has the arm talent that made him the #1 QB recruit coming out of high-school, but he’s never figured out how to put the pieces together. There’s a Skinny Post throw he made against Georgia State that was a microcosm of his career. The read is pretty good, but he throws it late. If it had been an accurate ball against a good DB then the route may have gotten jumped. In the end, the ball landed in the dirt, coming up a few yards short and behind his target.
- Rattler will make 1-2 throws a half that can go the other way for an INT, but there’s also 1-2 plays a half that show the type of talent Rattler has. On one of his rollouts in the 1st half against Georgia St the ball is dropped in a bucket on the run for a catch 40 yards down the sideline.
- The WR who catches that throw is #13 Jalen Brooks. He’s not technically a starter but he is USC’s 2nd leading receiver. He has 7 TGT’s/6 REC’s and 117 yards. Brooks can do some nice things once he gets the ball in his hands. UGA struggled defending shallow crossing routes against Oregon and Brooks caught some of those against Arkansas. Expect USC to poke around UGA’s defense early to see if they have issues with their assignments in zone coverage.
- SoCar’s other TE is Austin Stogner, the OU transfer who plays opposite of Bell. He’s decent. 7 TGT’s/6 REC’s for 50 yards so far in 2022. He doesn’t have the speed to really hurt UGA, but their run game is probably at its best when he is pulling into the hole after lining up as an inline TE.
- This South Carolina OL just doesn’t block very well. So far through two games they have allowed 29 Pressures and 4 Sacks. By comparison, the UGA OL has allowed just 6 pressures.
- Rattler doesn’t trust his protection, and it causes him to struggle even more with his processing. He’s not always keeping his eyes downfield and at times he will miss an open window because he’s worrying about the protection. Then he throws the ball late and it results in an INT. This happened once on an INT against Arkansas.
- There’s pass plays against Georgia State where the OL just gets blown off of the ball. It’s not even a blitz. GSU just comes with a 5-man rush from 5 down lineman… 3 Georgia State defenders come out free to flush Rattler.
- The Gamecocks OL just isn’t very talented. RT Dylan Woonum got picked on by UGA a lot last year, and he will again in 2022. They bust a lot of assignments.
- USC has 3 players who are splitting carries at RB. The aforementioned Bell has had 11 attempts for 3.2 YPA, Juju McDowell (#21) is the team leader in Yards per Attempt (3.8) with 13 carries on the season, and MarShawn Lloyd has had the most rushing attempts (18) but has the lowest Yards per Attempt (2.9) among the 3 players.
- Nobody on the roster averages more than 4 Yards per Attempt but QB Spencer Rattler with 4.9. Rattler is no Bo Nix. He doesn’t have Stetson Bennett’s wheel either. What he can do is pick up 8 yards on a zone-read.
- South Carolina has its most success running behind LG. They went for 5.4 YPA on 5 carries behind LG against Arkansas. I think Jalen Carter, Logue, Stackhouse, etc. will be camped there for UGA
- On the flip side, they just ran for 1.3 YPA on 3 carries behind the RG. Think UGA can win one-on-ones at every position against this OL.
- SoCar only ran behind RT Dylan Woonum twice. It lead to 2 TD’s on 2 carries. One right off the Goal Line and one that was from 7 yards out.
- Marshawn Lloyd is also a big part of the passing game. He is USC’s 3rd leading receiver with 100 yards on 8 catches. He has run the 5th most routes of any player on the team. Lloyd can do some nice things in space. UGA will want to keep him off the edges and they’ve gotta tackle him in open space. SoCar ran a ton of screens to Lloyd against Arkansas. Expect UGA to key on that.
- When he’s kept clean Rattler is a 71.7% passer with 8.7 YPA, 1 TD & 2 INT’s. So far this year he’s been clean on 62.7% of his dropbacks. When he’s under pressure Rattler is a 37.5% passer with 6.1 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT. When he is blitzed Rattler is 46.2% passer with 5.6 YPA, 0 TD, 1 INT… Expect Georgia to blitz him.
- They haven’t done it yet, but watch out for a misdirection throwback of some kind to the opposite side of the field at some point on Saturday. SoCar will probably try to fake a screen to Rattler’s right and toss it back to Bell or Stogner lurking on the left side of the field.
UGA Offense vs South Carolina Defense
- Georgia St- Out rushed South Carolina 200 to 79. The GaState QB was 7/29 passing and GSU had two punts blocked in a 21 point defeat. In that game the Panthers outgained the Gamecocks 311-306.
- - KJ Jefferson - 18/21 for 162 YDS and 1 TD against USC… His Average Depth Of Target (ADOT) was 7.7 YDS. UGA can have success running some concepts similar to the Oregon game in my opinion.
- - Huntley (95) and Pickens (6) are the Gamecocks two starting DT’s. They get washed out by Georgia State over and over on simple Zone Power concepts and Arkansas moved them around pretty easily as well.
- - Arkansas put up 295 rushing yards on USC. The Gamecocks just aren’t that big up front. You can bully them around.
- - SoCar’s most talented defender is EDGE (#5) Jordan Burch. He was All-World out of high-school. On the opening drive of the season a G5 Right Tackle turns him 90 degrees in the hole and walks him 10 yards downfield. When he can key on run plays in short yardage he is better. Arkansas had a lot of success running Zone-Read plays off his side of the line and freezing him with the fakes. Once that happened he lost contain and wouldn’t catch the RB heading to the perimeter.
- - The middle of this defense (LB’s, Safeties) just doesn’t run very well. Watch for UGA to hit some end-arounds and misdirection for big plays.
- - Arkansas had a lot of success with misdirection run plays and Counters. Freeze SoCar’s LB’s and they just aren’t quick enough to make a play.
- - CB Cam Smith (#7) is a very good player. He’s the #1 CB on Mel Kiper’s big board. He got banged up last week and is Questionable for this game. It is believed he’s unlikely to play on Saturday.
- - CB Marcellas Dial (#24) is probably going to be the #1 CB for USC in this game with Cam Smith likely out. Dial will play on the boundary opposite of Darius Rush (#28). Dial has been targeted 10 times for 5 REC’s and 90 yards so far this season. Against GSU he gave up an easy TD.
- - Darius Rush (#28) is USC’s highest graded corner by PFF. You can have some success against him but he has only seen 5 TGT’s from opponents so far this year (3 REC’s for 30 YDS and 1 TD). With Cam Smith out he’ll have to play more. Matt Landers put a move on him for an easy completion on a comeback route last Saturday. If Matt Landers can roast your boundary DB on a comeback you’re probably gonna have a long day against UGA’s skill guys.
- - The Coverage Grades for South Carolina’s starters aren’t too good. Watch for UGA to pick on Safety Nick Emmanwori (#21) and ILB Brad Johnson (#19) in particular.
How UGA Will Win
I expect the UGA defense to take advantage of the slow Gamecock linebackers in much the same way that they did Oregon’s. Georgia will stretch the field horizontally and make them chase UGA’s shifty skill guys from sideline to sideline. I expect to see more screen plays, pop passes, and end-arounds to Kenny McIntosh and Daijun Edwards that function as part of the running game. You will also see Georgia get the ball to McConkey, Dillon Bell and Kearis Jackson on the perimeter. This South Carolina defense doesn’t get off blocks well to begin with. They’re going to really struggle with the downfield blocking of UGA’s WR’s and TE’s.
Georgia has had its most success in the running game when running to the outside shoulder of an inline TE lined up next to a Tackle. South Carolina gave up easy 8-12 yard runs over and over when Arkansas ran to the wide side of the field out of the Shotgun. Georgia will do that to the Gamecocks as well, and I won’t be surprised if they break a long TD run outside the tackles on Saturday with McIntosh or Edwards. The Dawgs will also hammer the middle of this defense with the run game. I expect this to be the first time this season UGA really features an inside run game.
That being said, Georgia in 2022 is still a very efficient and effective passing offense. Who LEADS the SEC in passing success rate? That’s right, Georgia. Who in the SEC has the HIGHEST pass to run ratio? That’s right, Georgia does. The Bulldogs are throwing on 63% of downs so far this season. That isn’t being shelved just because the Gamecocks are soft up front. I think you will see more play-action attempts on Saturday, but I still think Bennett will have a big day throwing.
With AD Mitchell out I expect plenty of work from the Washington and Bowers. If Monken gets those two matched up on either Greene (#44) or Johnson (#19), the Gamecock ILB’s, it’s probably a big play. Ditto for UGA’s skill guys when matched up on Safety Nick Emmanwori (#21) lots of Ladd McConkey, Rosemy and Dillon Bell. I also have a hunch that Kearis Jackson has his biggest game since 2020 on Saturday.
When South Carolina has the ball it all starts and ends with the offensive line. Last year they couldn’t block Georgia, and I don’t think they will have too much success doing so on Saturday either. The Gamecocks best chance is to bomb it down the sideline and let their WR’s hopefully make a big play or two in the even Ringo doesn’t get his head around.
South Carolina won’t be able to run the ball on Georgia with any consistency.
What the Gamecocks will try to do is run screens and underneath crossing routes. UGA struggled with both of those concepts at times against Oregon. In particular the young LB’s looked lost on some of UGA’s zone coverages. They looked much better defending in those schemes against Samford and I think UGA will be assignment sound on Saturday.
Don’t be surprised if Tykee Smith sees more action after he showed good ability to fight off perimeter blocks last week. If South Carolina gets behind in this game and tries to go downfield consistently then UGA will be in Rattler’s face a lot. Starks and Smith will be very solid in the middle as usual. It doesn’t feel like a stretch to say that one of them likely has a turnover in this game.
If Shane Beamer wants to play this game in a way where they actually try to win (run tempo, try to hit slow developing routes downfield, chase explosive plays) it is going to get ugly early and stay that way. This is SoCar’s biggest recruiting weekend of the year, so I would think he might try to run it and let the clock run and keep possessions in this game to a minimum. Then again, he might not be able to help himself.
Georgia is going to move the ball on South Carolina with ease, and I don’t think the Gamecocks can respond in kind. Rattler is the X-Factor in this game. If he plays really well this offense could maybe get to 20 on Georgia. In the end, I think the pressure is too much.
Kirby and UGA might want to make a statement to a few of those blue-chip recruits in the stadium while serving notice to South Carolina who the bully in the SEC East is.
Georgia 52 - South Carolina 13
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