October 4, 2012

Shaw on Bulldogs' mind



Cornerback Damian Swann can claim something none of his teammates can say when it comes to South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.

He boasts an interception against the Gamecock junior.

Of course, that came when the pair were star performers at their respective high schools, Swann at Atlanta's Grady High and Shaw at Flowery Branch.

"They won 35-28," Swann recalled. "He had a good day. I caught an interception, but that's in the past. He's matured and turned into a great athlete. He's going to be tough, but we're going to go in there and play our game."

The Bulldogs will need to be at their best, as Shaw presents aninteresting dilemma for the Bulldogs Saturday night (7 p.m., ESPN) in that he can cause problems in a number of different ways.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound junior is second on his team with 50 carries for 203 yards, while completing 78.1 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and just two interceptions.

"He's a very dynamic quarterback, I'll say that," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "He's very tough and very fast. He is very good at knowing when to step up and throw it, when to break the pocket and when to cross the line of scrimmage and when to throw it away. He's been making very good decisions in both the run game and pass game."

But what makes Shaw different than most quarterbacks is the way he gets the job done.

"He throws better when he's on the run," Bulldog linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. "That's what makes him so dangerous."

Running quarterbacks have already given the Bulldogs trouble.

Prior to last Saturday's game against Tennessee's Tyler Bray - a pro-style QB - Georgia had given up 120 rushing yards to quarterbacks in its first four contests.

Shaw has rushed for 893 career yards, giving sixth-ranked South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) a dangerous tandem, along with running back Marcus Lattimore.

"He's been able to throw on the run like that for a while," Swann said. "When I played against him in high school he threw the ball tremendously on the run, but he also made a lot of plays with his feet. That's one of the finer points of his game. We've got to try and contain him as much as possible and hope for a good outcome."

Shaw, as you might expect, is anxiously awaiting the matchup against his home-state school.

"It's two Top 10 teams and there is a lot riding on this game," Shaw told GamecockCentral.com. "It's a SEC East game. College GameDay is here and I'm from Georgia, so it's pretty exciting. I knew that coming in, being so close to Athens."

Saturday's appearance will be Shaw's first against the Bulldogs after Stephen Garcia played in the last two games.

"I just know it's going to be an intense game. It always is every year," Shaw said. "We just have to come out and play smart and take care of the ball."

Sound familiar? It should. Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray echoed those same comments earlier this week, acknowledging the obvious that Georgia will need to do a better job of hanging onto the football than it did in last year's 45-42 defeat in Athens.

But even if the Bulldogs manage to do just that, Richt knows his defense will still have its work cut out.

"When you have a guy like that who is multi-talented as far as being a runner and a thrower and makes good decisions, it's hard to beat a guy like that," Richt said. "Especially when you play defense like they do. They've got it going on."

Still, Swann said the defense can't get too wrapped up in becoming too aggressive when it comes to slowing Shaw down.

"We've still got to play our game, and when he does run, just play contain," Swann said. "We just can't let him have the big play; that's going to be the key. If we can keep him from having the big play, I think we should have a good day."