Deebo Samuel doesn't know Georgia star Deandre Baker
By Brad Crawford
South Carolina has provided Georgia plenty of bulletin board material ahead of this weekend's showdown in Columbia.
Not that the defending SEC champs and College Football Playoff runner-up need extra motivation against the Gamecocks, a 9.5-point underdog hoping to stiff-arm their way into the Eastern Division title race.
South Carolina star Deebo Samuel was asked this week by Josh Kendall of The State for his thoughts on being matched up with Georgia senior cornerback Deandre Baker, who passed on an NFL opportunity after an All-SEC campaign to return for one final season.
"Who," Samuel said. "I really ain't watched much of him."
It's the latest dig in the pre-game back and forth between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs, rivals who aren't fond of one another. Earlier this week, the Bulldogs reportedly plastered for Gamecock wideout Tori Gurley's guarantee inside their football facility ahead of the game, extra motivation for getting the job done on the road.
"There's a lot of things I see in Georgia where they can be beaten in Week 2," Gurley said this summer on The Paul Finebaum Show. "That's something I'm going to guarantee, that South Carolina gets the win in Williams-Brice, in front of 80,000 on CBS."
Georgia's defense will be prepared for Samuel, coach Kirby Smart says, after not seeing him due to injury in last season's affair between the hedges.
"He's probably the most underrated player in all of college football. I don't know that everyone in the country knows what the SEC knows about Deebo Samuel. The guy is phenomenal," Smart said at Monday's weekly press conference. "Even two years ago he gave us fits in that game and then you turn around and say he has a tough injury he has to deal with, but before he had that injury he had some of the most electric kickoff returns in the country."
The chances are slim Baker and Samuel actually goes 1-on-1 during Saturday's game based on Georgia's coverage scheme.
"I would imagine Georgia keeps Baker at right cornerback and South Carolina puts Samuel in the slot, where he has the ability to release inside or outside vertically or in the option route," says Kipp Adams, an analyst for Dawgs247. "If I am South Carolina, I give him a few more snaps coming out of the backfield on those wheel routes to try and get a big play once or twice a half. So the matchup will be against sophomores William Poole and Deangelo Gibbs as they rotate in at nickel/star."
Georgia opened the season with a shutout victory over Austin Peay, while South Carolina posted a 49-15 victory against Coastal Carolina. The Gamecocks began the 2018 campaign unranked, but they jumped into the Top 25 of the AP Poll this week for the first time in four years.
South Carolina hasn't beaten Georgia since the 2014 season.
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