Up – Halftime Adjustments
Speaking of that, Georgia was a completely different team in the 2nd half, on both sides of the ball. The offense finally opened up some and utilized the deep ball. The defense turned things around and completely dominated in the second half.
Georgia quickly opened up the second half with a TD drive to trim the lead. They then forced a 3 & out to get the ball back. Then Georgia scored another touchdown. Just like that, Georgia turned a 14-3 deficit into a 17-14 lead. Georgia got the offense going a bit, plus pitched a shutout on defense. Overall, Georgia was -11 in points in the first half. They were +21 in the second half.
To give an idea of the impact of adjustments on defense, just look at South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler’s game. In the first half, Rattler was 16-of-18 passing for 152 yards and 1 TD. In the second half, he was 6-of-24 through the air for 104 yards, 0 TD’s, and 2 INT’s. Georgia brought more pressure, the defensive backs played better in coverage, and the DB’s came up with a couple big INT’s. Holding a potential first round NFL Draft pick to those second half numbers is mightily impressive.
Georgia also opened up the passing game down the field (both in terms of play-calling, and Carson Beck being more willing to air it out instead of just playing the check-downs) in the second half. This was evident quickly when Beck connected with RaRa Thomas downfield for a 36 yard gain on the third play of the half to help set up that first TD. Also in the second half was a 32 yard completion to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. There were times where Beck had players open/getting open downfield in the first half, but he took checkdowns instead. That wasn’t as much of the case in the second half, which was good to see.
Georgia also ran for 125 yards on 24 carries (5.21 yards per carry) in the second half, an improvement over the 4.5 yards per carry that the team averaged in the first half.
Down – The kicking game
It was not an ideal game for the Georgia kickers. Freshman Peyton Woodring missed two make-able field goals (28 and 43 yarders), going 1-for-3 in the game. Kickoff specialist Jared Zirkel also struggled a bit on kickoffs. The opening kickoff of the game went out of bounds, giving South Carolina good field position at the 35 to open up the game (which eventually led to a TD).
While I think Woodring is very talented (was the No. 1 kicker in the class of 2023), he is now just 4-for-7 on the season with two of the misses coming from inside 30 yards. As with most of the down’s, while it has not costed Georgia a game YET, it came close on Saturday. In a game where Georgia was in a battle until the end, the extra three or six points could have gone a long way. I still have faith in Woodring, but the leash might be getting short with fans and the coaching staff.
Even though there were struggles at the kicker position, punter Brett Thorson did his job though. The overall yardage was not there, but he put all three of his punts inside the 20 yard-line.