The MAC snacks have digested and it's time for Georgia and South Carolina to prepare for a much more filling meal.
It's difficult to determine exactly where both the Bulldogs and Gamecocks are after their relatively easy season-opening wins over Kent and Ball State. They did provide both sides with mounds of confidence, a helping of experience and a taste of playing before more than 78,000 people.
But the lights and intensity will reach a hotter level come Saturday when the teams open its Southeastern Conference schedules with a 6 p.m. kickoff at Columbia's Williams-Brice Stadium.
"Georgia will present a few more problems for us than Ball State," Gamecocks coach Brad Scott said Sunday after his team's 38-20 win over the Cardinals.
The 15th-ranked Bulldogs should also break more than a trickle of sweat coming off a relatively simple 56-3 shellacking of Kent State.
Of primary concern to Scott is Georgia's massive playbook, which coach Jim Donnan said the Bulldogs only showed glimpses of Saturday.
"We basically ran 60 percent of our running package and 20 percent of our passing," Donnan said Sunday. "We ran limited drop back because we didn't want to show South Carolina everything."
The Dawgs didn't need to against an overwhelmed Kent team. For one, running backs Patrick Pass and Jasper Sanks did not play, allowing backups Robert Arnaud and Ronnie Bradley opportunity to impress coaches. Both Pass and Sanks will see time Saturday, though Arnaud's performance may keep the duo on the sidelines. Arnaud took an option pitch from Jon England and outraced the Kent defense for a 78-yard touchdown.
Both teams' offenses looked exceptionally sharp for a season-opening game, as quarterbacks Quincy Carter and Anthony Wright answered questions and critics with sharp execution.
Carter, the Bulldogs' first true freshman to start at quarterback since 1948, completed 12 of his 16 passes, threw for three touchdowns and never seemed rattled as he played his first football game in more than two years. Wright, returning from a horrific knee injury, received much praise from his coaches for directing the Gamecocks with precision.
"I can't remember our offense being as effective in an opening game," Scott said. "We scored four out of the first five times we had the ball."
Also of note is Wright's ability to lead long scoring drives. Two touchdowns came on drives longer than 70 yards, one from 65 yards, another from 54 yards.
"It speaks volumes of the kind of guy Anthony Wright is," Donnan said. "He's an accurate passer who plays with explosiveness each time he touches the ball. He looks to be fully recovered from his knee injury, and that's good for them."
The victor will be decided with defense, giving the Bulldogs the slight edge. In last year's 31-15 Bulldogs victory in Athens, Georgia exploited USC's youthful linebackers with an assortment of drops to tight ends and running backs. USC used seven linebackers Saturday, four of whom were either red-shirt or true freshmen. How they play against Georgia's short-passing game may prove key.
"We didn't do a good job at all of picking up those guys last year," Scott said. "We made mistakes through inexperience. It'll give us a lot to worry about this week."
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