Anatomy of an upset: 3 cardinal sins Georgia committed in loss to South Carolina

Kingsley Enagbare, Aaron Sterling, South Carolina Gamecocks, Jake Fromm, Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kingsley Enagbare, Aaron Sterling, South Carolina Gamecocks, Jake Fromm, Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Georgia Bulldogs made a ton of mistakes in their shocking double-overtime loss at home to the South Carolina Gamecocks, but here are their three worst.

In the first huge upset of the college football season, the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs stumbled at home to the SEC East rival South Carolina Gamecocks, falling 20-17 in double overtime. South Carolina outplayed Georgia throughout the afternoon, so we have to give credit to Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp for the gameplan he put together this week versus his alma mater.

As for Georgia, this was an opportunity to get to 6-0 and flex as one of the better teams in the Power 5. Instead, the Dawgs have dropped a game at home everybody and their brother in Dawg Nation thought was going to be a certain W for Georgia.

The Dawgs still have plenty of football left on the slate to make a trip to Atlanta and maybe beyond that. But for now, this was one of the most embarrassing losses this program has suffered in some time. Here are the three cardinal sins they committed which resulted in them blowing this game and succumbing to a head-scratching defeat to the visiting Gamecocks.

Maybe, just maybe, don’t throw the ball in Israel Mukuamu’s direction

Israel Mukuamu ate Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm‘s lunch all afternoon. The talented South Carolina cornerback had three interceptions of the Georgia passer on the day. Mukuamu’s first came on an errant throw from Fromm late in the first half. Fromm was trying to throw it out of bounds while under pressure but didn’t get enough on it, resulting in a South Carolina pick-six.

When the game was stuck at 17-10 for most of the second half, Fromm would try to target wide receiver Matt Landers near the sidelines for a completed first down. What happened was miscommunication for the Georgia offense, as Fromm and Landers weren’t on the same page and Mukuamu secured pick No. 2 for the Gamecocks.

Finally, in the first overtime, Fromm would throw the ball to wide receiver Tyler Simmons, who apparently wasn’t ready to receive it. The ball bounced off the receiver and into, you guessed it, Mukuamu’s hands for the third time. While all three of Mukuamu’s interceptions only gave seven points to South Carolina, the latter two picks ended drives that could have been Georgia scores.

That illegal formation at the end of regulation was so dumb and costly

Georgia was in a position to win the game with a long field-goal attempt from kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. While he missed a 53-yard field goal that was blocked on the last play of the first half, Blankenship has been one of the most accurate kickers in college for the last few years. He had made a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter and the Dawgs were in his range to win it.

On third down and short, Georgia got a little too cute with moving its players around at the line of scrimmage. They swapped a pair of receivers’ alignment before the snap. The one lining up on the line of scrimmage would drop back into flanker and the flanker would go up to the line of scrimmage. Pretty simple and nifty, but no, it did not work at all for the Dawgs.

That’s because they were not set for one second, as Fromm had to snap the ball against a rapidly expiring play clock. That five-yard penalty would take Blankenship out of his range. While Sanford Stadium wanted him to attempt a near-60-yard try, head coach Kirby Smart opted for a Fromm Hail Mary that resulted in a fumble that South Carolina recovered, but didn’t take to the house.

Offensive play-calling was both erratic and predictable all afternoon

This was not Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley’s finest hour. The new Georgia offensive coordinator didn’t expect Will Muschamp’s team to be this feisty along the defensive line. It threw off the Georgia offensive attack all afternoon.

There were so many plays Coley decided to attack South Carolina deep to no avail early in downs, bringing up many second-and-longs and third-and-longs. Coley opted to run the ball up the middle on second down so much that it became incredibly predictable for Muschamp’s defense to stack the box for little to no gain for Georgia. You can’t win on third-and-long consistently.

Lastly, the Georgia offensive line wasn’t ready for the exotic pass-rushes South Carolina had in store. Fromm wasn’t sacked a ton in this game, but he had to make due in the muddiest pocket he’s worked from all season. No wonder he and the Georgia offense turned the ball over four times in this shocking upset.

Overall, this game was one where Georgia didn’t take South Carolina seriously and it cost the Dawgs dearly. With teams like the Florida Gators and the Auburn Tigers on the schedule, Georgia has made it so much harder for itself to get back to Atlanta for the third year in a row. It’s still possible, but the Dawgs will have to play perfect ball the rest of the way to get there.

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