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South Carolina Gamecocks Preview

Alec Smith

Georgia vs. South Carolina

Saturday, September 16th, 2023, 3:30 P.M. EST (CBS)



South Carolina

2023 Record



Head Coach

Kirby Smart

Shane Beamer

Record at School



’23 PPG



’23 PPGa




After marching through UT Martin and Ball State, the Bulldogs are ready to open SEC play at home against their divisional rival, South Carolina. UGA leads the all-time series 54-19-2, including three straight victories for Georgia with an average score of 44-12. Many of us, including Kirby Smart, have not forgotten the 2019 edition of the game where the Gamecocks came into Athens as 24.5-point underdogs and took down undefeated UGA in double overtime. The Dawgs enter Saturday as a 27.5-point favorite, but this is still a potentially dangerous game.

SC holds the #22 ranking in the country in terms of composite team talent. Shane Beamer has continued to put the program on an upward trajectory since his first year in 2021. Former Oklahoma Sooner Spencer Rattler is still immensely talented despite having up and down production during his career. Rattler is hitting 83.3% of his throws through two games this year with 698 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Between three years at Oklahoma and two years at SC, Spencer has amassed 8,319 yards through the air with a completion percentage of 69.4 and a TD/INT ratio of 61-24.

Rattler has “behind LOS mobility” but is not a dynamic rushing threat. He is a gifted athlete but rarely if ever takes off down the field. Spencer was sacked 8 (EIGHT!!!) times against UNC in week one. SC finished the game with 31 carries for -2 yards on the ground, including -22 yards due to sacks. Starting RB Dakereon Joyner had just 23 yards on 12 carries. In the Furman game, SC ran for 108 yards on 39 carries (2.8 YPC).

Back to Rattler, the redshirt senior currently ranks 11th among qualifying FBS quarterbacks in PFF Grades with an 88.5 on the season thus far. When in a clean pocket, Rattler is among the best passers in the league, but he has struggled under pressure in the past. South Carolina currently ranks 129th in sacks allowed among 133 FBS programs (10 in two games). Rattler’s passing grade when kept clean is a solid 87.7, while his grade when blitzed is a 76.7.

A couple of other PFF grades of note for Spencer Rattler:

Passing Depth


Behind LOS


Short (0-9)


Medium (10-19)


Deep (20+)



On top of grades for depth of target, Rattler excels throwing to the middle of the field and to his right. Some of his worst passing grades are on shorter throws and throws to the left side of the field.

I have put a heavy emphasis on Spencer Rattler because I believe he is the determining factor for Saturday. He has significantly cut back on turnover worthy plays and hits his mark at high percentages. SC’s leading receiver is Xavier Legette, with 15 receptions, 296 yards, and 1 TD for the year. Dakereon Joyner is tied for 2nd in receptions from the RB position. Former 5* Nyck Harbor is certainly a threat, but he has yet to make a real impact through the first two games. If Georgia’s secondary gets beat, it will be because Rattler is making magic happen, not because of overwhelming perimeter talent.

North Carolina was mostly able to do what they wanted on offense against the Gamecock defense. UNC went 8-13 on 3rd downs while amassing 437 yards of offense (269 passing/ 168 rushing). The Tarheels were not explosive on the ground but maintained 4.3 YPC to stay on schedule. UGA’s run offense has admittedly looked lackluster thus far, but they will have another opportunity to show how good it can be with Daijun Edwards returning this weekend.

Here are some defensive stats on the year for SC against UNC and FCS Furman:



National Rank

3rd Down Conversion %



Passing Yards Allowed

256.0 YPG


Rushing Yards Allowed

124.0 YPG


Redzone Scoring

7 atts, 6 TD’s, 1 FG


Turnover Margin




Surprisingly, the Bulldogs have also given up points on 100% of redzone opportunities (2 attempts, 1 TD, 1 FG).

For me, this is the first game of the year where I expect Mike Bobo to unfurl the playbook. There is not one specific facet of SC’s defense that intimidates me, but you do not want to let this team hang around into the second half. Yes, Georgia has dominated this rivalry as of late, but they are still an SEC opponent that can challenge the Dawgs on the right day. I am looking for a more explosive and consistent run game on offense against a middling front seven unit for South Carolina. While Drake Maye did throw two interceptions in week one, SC’s secondary still gave up 11.2 yards per completion along with six pass plays of 15+ yards. Furman also found some fortune in the passing game with 12.2 yards per completion and five passes of 15+ yards. As stated above, the Dawgs are averaging 44.3 PPG against the Gamecocks over the last three years, and I would not expect Saturday’s game to deviate from that.

Impact Players to Watch

Spencer Rattler (QB #7) – 2020 First Team All-B12, 2020 Freshman All-American, 24-8 in 32 career starts.

Xavier Legette (WR #17) – Leading Receiver for 2023, Appeared in 43 games with 22 starts, capable return man and special teams contributor.

Marcellas Dial (CB #6) – 28 games played with 19 starts, top cover corner for SC, 45 tackles, 3 INT’s, 12 PBU’s in 2022.

Jalon Kilgore (DB #24) – True Freshman Safety/ CB, 18 tackles in first two games, one of SC’s best run defenders in the secondary, 4* from Putnam County, GA, #225 player in 2023 cycle, #18 safety.

Nyck Harbor (WR/ATH #8) – True Freshman multi-sport athlete, 10.20 100m speed in a 6’5” 240 lb frame, limited production in first two weeks but still a mismatch nightmare, 5* from Washington D.C., #21 player in 2023 cycle, #1 athlete.

Betting Trends

The Bulldogs are currently favored by 27.5 points against the Gamecocks with a game total of 54.5. Georgia is 0-2 ATS this year while South Carolina is 1-1. UGA is 4-3 ATS (6-1 SU) in the last seven meetings between the SEC East Rivals and the Over is 4-3 in that same span.

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