College Sports

Gamecocks have a big challenge in Georgia. One USC player is ‘not really fond’ of UGA

Most of South Carolina’s football players toed the company line when it came to Georgia.

Yes it’s a big game. No it’s not that different. They don’t see the rivalry and just want that win.

But one admitted he feels a little extra juice.

“It’s something different,” linebacker Ernest Jones said. “I’m just not really fond of that team.”

To be fair, he’s a South Georgia kid. Folks around him were all Bulldogs fans. He wanted to feel a little different.

He was asked about the emotions that black and red G elicited, and he was almost at a loss for words.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Jones said of the recent history. “You never want to lose, especially to some guys that you grew up with, guys you played with and played against.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

The Gamecocks have lost four in a row in the series, including a 44-17 game a season ago.

The Bulldogs didn’t come too hard after cornerback Jaycee Horn, despite him coming from the Atlanta area.

South Carolina’s coaching staff has some of that Georgia flavor, with Will Muschamp, Thomas Brown and Bryan McClendon having played there. Rico Dowdle said strength coach Jeff Dillman had given Brown some grief about it, but the coach himself never brought it up.

“It’s just like another game,” Horn said. “I’ll probably have a few more familiar faces in the crowd but that’s about it.”

The Bulldogs were heavily involved in recruiting Gamecocks defensive end Aaron Sterling, and he too isn’t putting too much weight on it. Sterling was an Alabama commit into the start of his senior year, and the Bulldogs were after him until signing day, when he finally picked the Gamecocks.

Hailing from 60 miles outside Athens, he said he has only one UGA fan in his family.

“The only person I knew who was probably a Georgia fan was probably my brother,” Sterling said. “I didn’t really grow up a Georgia fan. I watched them play, but I wouldn’t say I was a real fan.”

But is his brother still a UGA fan?

“Probably,” Sterling said. “I go here, he’s still going to root for us but, like he’s a Georgia fan.”

And Sterling is OK with that. He respects the Bulldogs and Georgia coach Kirby Smart, basically the program that’s been built up there.

He and his Gamecocks enter the game as 25-point underdogs, the largest spread in the rivalry in recent memory. Overcoming a team that can cause that will be a tall order, but the Gamecocks are treating it, and the border rivalry, like anything else.

“Just another obstacle that we’re gonna have to try and face,” running back Rico Dowdle said. “Definitely a challenge that will be accepted.”