Gamecocks receiver Shi Smith has big play abilities but has been limited to just one touchdown this season. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Several South Carolina players met with the media this week to discuss the challenges presented by Georgia’s rough and tumble style of play. For some Gamecocks, the Georgia game takes on a special meaning. Linebacker Ernest Jones is from Waycross, Georgia, and grew up in the shadow of the “G.” “I did not like Georgia … It’s nothing personal. But where I’m from, everybody loved Georgia. I wanted to be different.”

But don’t mistake Jones’ dislike for the Bulldogs with disrespect, “They are fast, physical … powerful. Good quarterback. He (Jake Fromm) is an accurate thrower. He can put the ball in multiple places. Makes decisions fast … We have to get to him.”

Jones is far from the only player that grew up familiar with the Bulldogs. Eighteen Gamecocks played high school football in the state of Georgia including Josh Vann (Tucker), Randrecous Davis (Atlanta), DJ Wonnum (Stone Mountain) and Aaron Sterling (Atlanta). But cornerback Jaycee Horn (Alpharetta) is downplaying the significance of returning to his home state, “It’s just another game. Maybe I’ll have a few more faces in the crowd, but that’s about it.”

Of course, the coaching staff has its own connections to Athens through head coach Will Muschamp (safety), running backs coach Thomas Brown (running back) and offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon (wide receiver), all of whom donned the red and black of Georgia. These connections may bring additional intrigue to the matchup, but as Horn put it, “This game is just about the 2019 Gamecocks and the 2019 Bulldogs.”

Ernest Jones

Aaron Sterling

Rico Dowdle