COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer was adamant about his team’s approach — and enormous challenge — during Georgia week.
He emphatically told his staff on Sunday that he didn’t want to hear about “shocking the world” or how the Gamecocks only had to better the top-ranked Bulldogs just one Saturday and not all 12.
“As soon as I walk out of the staff meeting, I have text messages on my phone from family members essentially telling me the same thing,” said Beamer, son of Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer.
The Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) aren’t nervous or fearful about the big, bad Bulldogs (2-0), who open SEC play Saturday.
“I don’t have to rally them to make them believe,” Beamer continued. “They believe. They have confidence, they should. We are a really good SEC football team. We have really good SEC football players.”
South Carolina has struggled to show that early this season. It was mauled by Arkansas’ potent run game, giving up 295 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Georgia’s offense is led by national championship quarterback Stetson Bennett, who has thrown for 668 yards and three touchdowns this season. The running game hasn’t gotten lathered up yet, with 259 yards total through two games. That’s OK with Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart, who leans on his players’ skillsets.
“Right now, the strength of this team is probably its depth upfront, experience at quarterback. And a distribution of the ball across the entire offense to make you defend 53 yards,” Smart said. “The evolution is based on what players you have.”
PRAISE FOR MUSCHAMP
Georgia co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was South Carolina’s coach from 2016 to 2020. He returned to Georgia as a defensive analyst before the 2021 season but took over special teams.
“He is a tremendous asset to our defensive staff,” Smart said. “He is a tremendous asset to our special teams staff. It is like having a second head coach.”
Muschamp was 17-22 in his five years at South Carolina.
Gamecocks tailback Marshawn Lloyd said Muschamp was the reason he joined the team and has nothing but good feelings toward his former coach.
Beamer spent two years as a Georgia assistant for Smart and credits his former boss as a large influence on how he runs the Gamecocks program.
“Kirby Smart made me a better football coach. That was a really, really beneficial two years to be with him,” Beamer said.
WINNING WITH DEFENSE
Georgia returned to the top of the AP Top 25 this week and also moved back to the No. 1 spot in scoring defense.
Georgia, which led the nation last season while allowing 10.2 points per game in winning its first national championship since 1980, has allowed only 1.5 points per game this season. That includes a 49-3 rout of then-No. 11 Oregon and last week’s 33-0 victory over Samford.
Asked about his confidence in the rebuilt defense, Smart said, “You’re as good as your last outing, and that’s all I know right now.”
SOUTH CAROLINA INJURIES
The Gamecocks have lost defensive starters linebacker Mohamed Kaba and defensive end Jordan Strachan to knee injuries they suffered in the loss at Arkansas last week.
Beamer said there were three other defenders also questionable to face Georgia: defensive backs Cam Smith and David Spaulding and defensive tackle Alex Huntley.
TURN UP THE NOISE
When Georgia played at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic kept the crowd small. Players are expecting a much louder environment on Saturday.
“Throughout practice, we practice that kind of thing,” linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson said. “We have noise control and they blast it throughout the week.”
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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