*Written by student assistant Kelly McAlindin
With College GameDay set to air on the historic Horseshoe and a sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium, the anticipation for this match-up is definitely high. However, the Gamecocks know that in order to win they have to channel the excitement and execute their plays.
“We just have to come out and play sound football,” said junior quarterback Connor Shaw. “We just have to come out, play smart, and take care of the football.”
As a Flowery Branch, Ga. native, Shaw has felt the pressure and excitement build every day as he prepares to start against the Bulldogs for the first time. When asked about how he plans to handle the hype going into Saturday, Shaw believes it’s more important to look at the big picture rather than the details of the game, “You can’t let the game get bigger than it is, we can’t treat it like more than it is, it’s just a game.”
Also making a home debut against Georgia this weekend, sophomore Bruce Ellington notes how the team must stay focused regardless of the hype and expectations, “We have to go out with the mentality to win.”
Junior running back Marcus Lattimore also noted on how the team plans to manage the anticipation, “We have a lot of veterans who have been through this and know how to stay focused; we just have to preach that to our younger guys.”
In his last meeting at home against Georgia, Lattimore had an incredible performance with 37 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns. When asked about replicating that same level of play this weekend, he noted that Georgia has “a great defense as always but if we run and execute our plays I think we’ll be fine.”
Questions were also buzzing around the practice field as to whether South Carolina will change their game plan in facing Georgia’s strong offensive and defensive lines. Despite the expectation, coaches were insistent on sticking to what they know.
When asked about the strength of Carolina’s offensive line and play strategies, Coach G.A. Mangus believes repetition and simplicity has been and will be the key to the team’s offensive success, “Being simple is sometimes a good thing.”
Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott also commented on his feelings about his players’ preparation for Saturday, saying, “We’ll stick to what we do, play well, and get out there and put on a show.”
Watch full videos of the coaches and player’s comments here and check back to GamecocksOnline.com tonight for comments from defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward after Thursday’s practice.