Top three things to know: Georgia vs. South Carolina 

Posted: 9:56 pm Saturday, October 8th, 2016

By Jay Black

Three letters out of the word “Gamecocks” were blown off the facade of the press box at Williams-Brice Stadium. (Chip Towers/Dawgnation.com)

Who makes the most of a strange week?

It’s safe to say this week has been unlike any in the history of the University of Georgia. Starting with the fact that for the first anyone can remember, the Dawgs are playing a football game on a Sunday.

Both coaches have said this is no big deal and this is no distraction.

“We will adjust. Play Sunday like it’s a Saturday,” said UGA’s Kirby Smart to the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network. “It shouldn’t be a big impact, both teams have to do it.”

And yet it’s hard to believe — in a sport that’s so centered on structure, order and routine — that Hurricane Matthew won’t have some sort of an effect on this game.

The Dawgs arrived on Saturday evening and gave up their hotel to let evacuees use it. The team stayed at an obscure judicial facility on USC’s campus. Actually, they might have traded up, because that thing looked a lot nicer than the Holiday Inn.

For South Carolina, it might have a bigger impact. This is a day game instead of a night game, which always matters around here.  Plus there’s no guarantee the crowd will be full because there’s no telling how many Gamecock fans are picking up the pieces back on the coast.

For those that are here, this game has been put in its proper perspective and the noise these fans usually make might be toned down just a little bit.

Freshman QB Brandon McIlwain is more feared as a runner. But with two WRs back, will the freshman have more options throwing the ball?

South Carolina gets offensive help, but is it enough?

Georgia has faced some loaded offenses the last three weeks and frankly only played well against one of them. I give them high marks for how the Dawgs contained Tennessee, holding them to their lowest yardage output of the season until the final play.

South Carolina on the other hand is the worst scoring offense in the SEC and also last in the league in rushing.

The Gamecocks feature two QBs, the pocket-passing Perry Orth (who was pretty awful in Athens last year) and a dual-threat freshman in Brandon McIlwain. Both played a lot in last week’s lost to Texas A&M.

USC does get back two key wide outs from hamstring injuries. Freshman Bryan Edwards had 101 yards in his first college game and has been impressive, but didn’t play last week against A&M.

Sophomore Deebo Samuel has missed the last three games.

South Carolina’s offense was also pretty pitiful last season, so any help the Gamecocks get will be needed. UGA should have a clear edge here.

Nick Chubb returns after only getting one carry last week.

Nick Chubb returns, but will we finally see Nick Chubb?

I said after the opener that you should enjoy this season because someone will start paying Nick Chubb for his trouble next year.

And he hasn’t looked like the same guy since.

The Dawgs best player only played one snap against Tennessee last week, so he’s basically missed six quarters with a bad ankle. Frankly, if someone says he’s been playing hurt since the opener, I’d believe it.

The junior has been cleared to play this week, so Jacob Eason will have all of his weapons at his disposal.

Georgia has made strides with its running attack the last two weeks, but remains seventh in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 193. That’s not good enough for this offense. Plus, the Dawgs haven’t had a 100 yard rusher since Chubb’s special performance in the opener.

What might be more important though is someone needs to get open for Eason to throw to. After 305 receiving yards in his first three games, Isaiah McKenzie  has been held  to 39 yards in the last two. That was bound to happen.

Terry Godwin hasn’t had more than four catches or 68 yards in any game this season. He only had one catch last week. Jeb Blazevich  has caught three passes all season.

So maybe help will come from the two freshman that did emerge in the loss to Tennessee. Riley Ridley has only two catches this season (both last week) and should have become a UGA legend. Tight end Isaac Nauta finally got to show off the talent UGA fans have been hoping to see.

Before it’s all said and done, Nauta might be the guy for Eason. Maybe Georgia’s most feared receiver won’t be a receiver at all.

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