Taking a closer look at Georgia’s win over South Carolina

ATHENS – Quarterback JT Daniels returned, and the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) took care of business in their SEC opener against the South Carolina Gamecocks with a 40-13 win Saturday night in a hot and humid Sanford Stadium. Next stop: Music City.

Here were Saturday’s highlights:

Key play

Georgia led only 14-6 in the second quarter when it took over on its 10-yard line. The Bulldogs faced third-and-medium or long three times, and Daniels found a receiver to convert each time. Finally, Daniels got the Gamecocks on a first-down play, hitting Adonai Mitchell with a strike down the hashmarks for a 38-yard touchdown and 21-6 lead with 6:06 to go in the half.

ExplorePhotos: Bulldogs are 3-0

Key stat

Georgia was 5-of-7 on third downs in the first half. That proved crucial against a salty South Carolina defense that forced the Bulldogs to work hard for everything they got, at least in the early and late going.

Game ball

Many on the defense deserved one, but nose guard Jordan Davis perhaps most of all. The senior recorded two tackles in the first half, including a sack of South Carolina quarterback Luke Doty with 24 seconds remaining in the first half that resulted in a safety. Davis had to share credit for the sack with outside linebacker Nolan Smith. But it was Davis’ pressure up the middle that forced down Doty, who was trying to throw deep after the Gamecocks took over at their own 1. The safety gave Georgia a 23-6 lead, and the Bulldogs added a field goal on the ensuing possession.

What we learned

That JT Daniels is the true QB1 for the Bulldogs. Daniels came back from missing last week’s game with an upper-body injury and completed 23 of 31 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. In the first half, Daniels led Georgia on scoring drives of 75, 75 and 90 yards in the first half. Also, Georgia’s Jordan Davis has improved his NFL draft stock considerably by returning for his senior season. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound had another sack, this one for a safety.

Georgia fans get the wave going during a 40-13 victory over South Carolina in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
Caption
Georgia fans get the wave going during a 40-13 victory over South Carolina in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

He said it

“Sanford and 92,000 is awesome! I’ve never experienced a true home-field advantage. I’d hate to play against us in Sanford Stadium.”

-- Daniels on his first home game in a sold-out Sanford Stadium

What’s next

Georgia: The Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) head Nashville, Tenn., for their first SEC road game of the season. Kickoff is set for noon, and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network. The Commodores (1-1) were playing Stanford in a home game Saturday that didn’t kick off until 8:05 p.m.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks (2-1, 0-1) return to Columbia to get ready for a visit by Kentucky on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN2)

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