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USC's Stout Defense Ready For Georgia's Offense

7:30 AM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
Raymond Sanders #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats is tackled by Kelcy Quarles #99 and Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the USC Gamecocks in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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Columbia, SC (written by Charles Bennett/Greenville Online)

South Carolina defensive tackle Byron Jerideau says the Gamecocks aren't intimidated by statistics, and that's a good thing.

If so, the No. 6 Gamecocks would be in serious trouble against No. 5 Georgia, a team that's setting a school-record pace offensively.

The Bulldogs (5-0) are tied with Texas A&M for the SEC lead in points per game (48.2) heading into Saturday's showdown at South Carolina (5-0).

Georgia hasn't scored fewer than 41 points in a game this season. At their present pace, the Bulldogs would shatter the school record of 37.2 points per game set in 1946.

Georgia leads the SEC in rushing offense (248.8 yards per game) and total offense (536 yards per game). The Bulldogs are fourth in passing offense (287.2 yards per game).

"We're going to line up and play football," Jerideau said. "We're going to play defense. Just like we do every game. When you look at the task at hand, they're No. 1 in this, No. 2 at that, but if we line up and play base defense, we'll be OK. Stats don't mean a lot."

Jerideau makes a good point - for both sides. In conference play, Georgia's offense has gone against Vanderbilt, ranked seventh in the 14-team conference in scoring defense, Missouri (10th) and Tennessee (12th).

Outside the conference, Georgia has steamrolled Buffalo 45-23 (ranked 83rd nationally in scoring defense) and Florida Atlantic 56-20 (ranked 90th in scoring defense).

Likewise, South Carolina's defense hasn't faced the most prolific of scoring offenses.

Even so, the statistics for each team should give both sides something to ponder.

South Carolina ranks second in the SEC in scoring defense (11.2 points per game) behind Alabama (7.0) and is third in total defense (288.8 yards per game) behind Alabama and LSU.

The Gamecocks are second in the nation in sacks with 22. South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing is glad the Gamecocks have a lot of sacks but said that's an overrated statistic.

"Affecting the quarterback is what you have to do," he said. "What bothers me are the number of big plays Georgia has. We went through what we call explosion plays, plays of 20 yards or more. They've got a whole highlight reel of them we showed our kids today. They produce big plays because they have big playmakers on offense."

The Bulldogs believe their high-powered offense is about to be tested.

"They've got talent all over the board, especially in the front four," said Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. "Watching them on film, you can see they don't do too much in terms of blitzing. Those are the best defenses - when you trust your players to just make plays, and they do that. They do a great job of getting pressure on the football without blitzing and with just those four guys. We've got our work cut out for us."

While South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier mostly concerns himself with the Gamecocks' offense, he's well aware of the challenge that faces his defense.

"Georgia can run the ball, they can throw the ball, and they've done it very well," Spurrier said. "Hopefully our defense can play a little bit better than those they've been playing against. So that's what we'll find out Saturday night."

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