COLUMBIA, S.C. — Georgia opened its dominating second half against South Carolina on Saturday with a 13-yard run by D'Andre Swift out to the 38-yard line of the Bulldogs.
The quick first down was countered by starting left tackle Andrew Thomas rendered horizontal on the field. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound sophomore eventually was helped off with a sprained ankle, and taking his place was touted freshman Cade Mays.
Yes, that Cade Mays, the former Knoxville Catholic standout who was a legacy commitment to Tennessee this time last year but opened his recruitment amid the tumult for the Volunteers and switched to the Bulldogs. Georgia didn't miss a beat with the 6-6, 318-pound Mays in the lineup, covering 62 yards in the next five snaps and assuming control at 27-10 on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jake Fromm to Mecole Hardman.
The Bulldogs again went 75 yards in six plays for a touchdown with their second possession of the second half and had an 86-yard scoring drive on nine plays on their third possession.
"Cade Mays is a great football player, and I'm super proud of him and the way he came in to where it didn't look any different," Fromm said. "It's a testament to those guys up front. We've got some really good linemen, and we're matching people up front, which really makes for some fun football."
Said Hardman: "Cade Mays came in and did a great job. We've got depth on that O-line and many guys who can come in and play."
Coach Kirby Smart did not immediately know the extent of the injury to Thomas, but he has a much better idea of what to expect from Mays. The Bulldogs produced an eye-popping 236 yards on 21 plays during the third quarter, and Mays was involved in every one of those snaps except the first one.
"I thought he was really physical at the point of attack," Smart said. "Cade is a competitor, and he has been working at left tackle for a while. We have to continue to develop offensive linemen, because we have to have more than five guys.
"He came in during a tough situation and played well."
Senior center Lamont Gaillard was asked if he had any words of advice for Mays when he first entered the huddle and replied, "I just said, 'Let's go,' and 'I already know that you're good for this moment.' He played really well today."
Turn it up
Saturday's kickoff was accompanied by a 92-degree temperature, which was fine by Smart.
"We didn't say it publicly, but we certainly felt like the hotter it was, the better off we would be," he said. "We practice at 3:30 or 4 o'clock every day, and it's hot. We don't run from it. When we work in the summer, it's hot.
"The hotter it is and the deeper we are and the more guys we can play, I think it takes its toll on other teams."
Wide, wide open
After opening the second-half scoring with a 34-yard reception, Hardman was stunned to find himself all alone in the Gamecocks' secondary on the ensuing drive. Fromm spotted the 5-11, 183-pound speedster, and the two connected for a 42-yard play to the South Carolina 5.
Gamecocks safety J.T. Ibe came over to make the stop to prevent Hardman from notching a second score.
"I was very surprised," Hardman said. "I thought their corner was playing man, but he blitzed. I looked, and I was wide open. I was like, 'Oh, wow!'
"I should have scored on that play, but I'm glad that Jake threw the ball and that I made the catch and then we scored."
Georgia was cruising to a 41-10 win until Jake Bentley passed to Bryan Edwards for a 44-yard touchdown with 9:59 remaining. Edwards beat five-star freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell down the sideline for the score.
"I told Tyson that he has to have amnesia," Bulldogs senior cornerback Deandre Baker said. "That happens to the best of the corners, and it's a lesson that you need to learn from and move on. He went back out there and was ready."
Odds and ends
Georgia senior receiver Terry Godwin, who missed the season opener with a calf injury, had a 12-yard reception late in the second quarter. Bulldogs redshirt junior Rodrigo Blankenship is 15-for-15 this season on kickoff touchbacks. Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields did not play until 13:25 remaining in the game, and he finished 1-for-1 passing for 8 yards and added a 3-yard carry. South Carolina junior defensive end D.J. Wonnum — who led the Gamecocks with 13 tackles for loss last season but injured an ankle in last week's opener against Coastal Carolina — did not play.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.