COLUMBIA, S.C. — Georgia players knew that Saturday’s game against South Carolina was going to be a test.
They way they responded to that test, however, showed just how good this Georgia team can be, especially when it comes to the SEC East.
Senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker, who finished the game with four tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss, had to clarify a reporter’s question when it was brought up that Georgia and South Carolina were the first and second teams in the division.
“That’s why we were the first, so they are still the second,” Walker said with a laugh.
Jokes aside, Georgia’s 21-point outburst on offense and its resilient defense in the second half showed alot. The main thing was depth, which was key to the 41-17 victory on Saturday. But, it also showed that Georgia might be the best team in the SEC East, and that it also might not be that close.
"We knew we were going to have to make a statement, and that’s what we did.”
— Lamont Gaillard, Georgia offensive lineman
Each season, there’s talk of a “statement” game. In 2017, it was Georgia’s narrow victory at Notre Dame. Do the Bulldogs see Saturday’s win as a statement?
“We knew we were going to have to make a statement,” senior offensive lineman Lamont Gaillard said. “And that’s what we did.”
Others weren’t quick to call it a statement game. As team expectations change, so does the mindset of its players.
What every player could agree on is just how much depth Georgia has. It showed when sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas went down with an ankle sprain. Freshman Cade Mays stepped in and played well.
“I thought he came in a tough situation and played well,” head coach Kirby Smart said of Mays. “I thought he was very physical at the point of attack.”
Both the players and Smart were asked about adjustments, specifically what adjustments were made at halftime that allowed Georgia to put the game away in the second half. Georgia led the entire first half, but struggled with a few mistakes here and there.
They all answered truthfully. No adjustments. The team simply relied on success in the running game, an offensive line with a lot of talented players, and a solid effort on defense.
“There’s going to be highs and lows in the game, there’s going to be ebbs and flows, but we’re just going to keep on chopping,” Smart said.
“Keep Chopping” was the mantra last season. It looks like that has applied to this year’s team as well.
Saturday’s game showed that Georgia is the best team in the SEC East and that the talent gap is wide. But to Georgia players, like junior receiver Mecole Hardman, it just shows that the work they’ve put in has come to fruition.
“It’s a hard place to play in,” Hardman said of Williams-Brice Stadium, home of the Gamecocks. “For us to come in here and do what we did shows a lot about our team."