September 8, 2011

Is Dawg offense predictable?

If you believe South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, Georgia might want to add an extra wrinkle or two into its offense for Saturday's SEC opener at Sanford Stadium.

The Bulldogs' base sets are something the Gamecocks are already quite familiar with.

"It's a lot more like our offense, which is what you see all spring and see all fall," Johnson said after practice Thursday afternoon in text provided to UGASports from sister site Gamecock Central. "That makes it a whole lot more comfortable, if you will. A lot of the things we rep in our defense, we played against East Carolina, but it's a whole lot different when you snap the ball, flip it out there in two seconds and Georgia's got a ton of that stuff."

Johnson said he certainly expects the Bulldogs to show a lot more balance than East Carolina, which attempted 56 passes compared to only 28 runs.

"Georgia does a very good job with the spread and (Aaron) Murray gets the ball out of his hand quick," Johnson said. "We're going to still have to defend a lot of that type stuff, but they're going to be more physical, they're going to get in the I and they are going to run the ball and mix it a lot better."

Of course, Johnson knows that getting pressure on Murray will be a key to whatever success the Gamecock defense may have.

Last week Boise State sacked Murray six times, including four on third down. But while the Broncos created havoc by using a series of twists and stunts, the Gamecocks hope the brute force of defensive ends Devin Taylor (6-foot-7, 260) and freshman wunderkind Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 254) will be enough to keep the Georgia QB on the run.

Johnson was asked if he thought his defense could equal Boise's six sacks against a Bulldog offensive line, which struggled for most of the night against the Broncos.

"They got behind by 20 points and they were predictable when they had to throw. Last year, I think we only got to him (Murray) when it got late in the game," Johnson said. "We were able to get to him when he was more predictable. They got the running game going and they can mix it, it's not going to make it any easier to sack him, than it is the guy from East Carolina."

Johnson said controlling Bulldog tight end Orson Charles will be one of the biggest challenges his defense will face in Saturday's contest (4:30 pm., ESPN).

Charles caught six passes for 109 yards against Boise State, and Johnson said his athleticism is a factor that has him quite concerned.

"He didn't even have his best game. He dropped a couple of balls and slipped one time, and he still got over 100 yards of passing," Johnson said. "He's a very fast and skilled kid to be playing tight end. We've got to defend him like a wideout. He presents good matchups for them and bad for you, if you're playing man."

But despite Charles' talent, Johnson said he can't afford to have someone spy the junior - like Spur Antonio Allen, who led the Gamecocks with 16 tackles last week.

"We'll have defenses where Antonio is matched up with him," Johnson said. "They've got good players everywhere so we don't have any special defense just for him."

Johnson said his defense can do itself a big factor by stopping the Bulldogs' run game.

"I just feel like we've got to get them behind schedule. That comes down to stopping the run and making them a little more predictable," he said. "I think until you get those guys way behind, they're just a little too balanced to effectively stop."

NOTE: Johnson said that cornerback Akeem Auguste will get his first action of the season since injuring his arch in preseason.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]