‘Hopefully it’ll be a heck of a game,’ Spurrier says of Dogs’ visit

Before any games were played, South Carolina was considered slightly ahead of Georgia in college football’s pecking order for this season. In the Associated Press preseason poll, South Carolina was ranked ninth and UGA 12th. In the SEC’s annual media survey, the Gamecocks were picked to win the Eastern Division over the runnerup Bulldogs.

Such perceptions have turned, with Georgia surging and South Carolina slipping based on early-season games.

The teams will meet Saturday afternoon in Columbia.

“We’ve got a lot of coaching to do this week before the Georgia Bulldogs come in,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday. “And hopefully it’ll be a heck of a game.”

In the latest polls, Georgia (1-0) is ranked No. 6 by both the AP and the coaches, while South Carolina (1-1) is slotted 24th by the AP and 23rd by the coaches.

The polls reflect Georgia’s 45-21 win over Clemson and South Carolina’s 52-28 loss to Texas A&M and hard-earned 33-23 win over East Carolina.

“If we’re going to be a decent team this year, we’ve got to be more sound in everything we do,” said Spurrier, citing blown assignments on defense and breakdowns on offense.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, though, offered a more positive take on the Gamecocks after watching their game against East Carolina.

“They ran the ball extremely well. They played much better on defense. I thought their special teams played good,” Richt said Sunday. “They’re getting everything right back on track.”

South Carolina’s defense has given up 1,133 yards in two games – 680 (511 passing) to Texas A&M and then 453 (321 passing) to East Carolina.

Spurrier was asked if his defense might match up better against Georgia’s offensive scheme than against the two pass-happy opponents.

“It is completely different from three-four wide receivers just about every play to maybe a two-backs run-it-down-your throat type team,” he said. “Now, whether or not we can match up that way, we’ve got to find out.”

The matchup requires trying to slow Georgia tailback Todd Gurley.

“Either he or the quarterback at Oregon (Marcus Mariota), I guess, are the Heisman leaders right now,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully we can slow him down a little bit.”

Spurrier said the Gamecocks’ best strategy is to keep the ball on offense for long stretches, as they did on an 18-play, 10 1/2-minute drive in the fourth quarter against East Carolina.

“Our mode of operation is to try to stay on the field a whole bunch right now until our defense can sort of get situated,” Spurrier said.

Richt, for his part, said South Carolina’s defense “overall played very, very well” against East Carolina after struggling against A&M.

“I just see a team that had one rough day and then got back on track and I’m sure will be getting even better as time goes on,” Richt said.

Etc.: Georgia wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, who didn't play against Clemson as they work their way back from knee injuries, are "doubtful" for the South Carolina game, Richt said. "I don't even know if it's day-to-day."