Too Much Information: Florida (Special Teams)

As we have seen, the Bulldogs and the Gators are much more evenly matched than you might expect, both on offense and on defense, which leads us directly to the expectation that the outcome could come down to the kicking game.

My initial reaction to this thought is to tremble with trepidation. In the last two weeks, after all, Andy Bailey has missed what would have been the game-winning field goal against Vanderbilt and what could have been a consequential extra point against Mississippi State. Do we really want special teams to be the decisive factor?

Uh, like . . . yeah, or something!

In retrospect, a "Beavis and Butt-Head" allusion probably wasn't appropriate. In case you didn't know, both Beavis and Butt-Head went on to earn baccalaureate and graduate degrees from the University of Florida following the conclusion of their M.T.V. careers.

Florida has problems of its own in the placekicking department. Chris Hetland has missed four of his five field goal attempts, making a 22-yarder but failing to convert three-point tries from 36, 36, 47, and 52 yards. Hetland has also missed two---count 'em, two---extra points.

On kickoffs, the Orange and Blue have amassed the S.E.C.'s second-fewest returns (10) for the third-shortest average return (18.7 yards), while the Red and Black have tallied the league's second-most returns (26) for the fifth-longest average return (21.6 yards).

Florida ranks third in the conference in net punting (38.3 yards per punt), but Georgia ranks second in the Southeast in punt returns (17.4 yards per return). Four of the league's top seven punt returners are Bulldogs (Asher Allen, Ramarcus Brown, Mikey Henderson, and Prince Miller), as are two of the league's top six punters (Gordon Ely-Kelso and Jeff Owens).

 

Face it: Georgia's just plain good at this.

The 'Dawgs have returned three punts for touchdowns, whereas the other 11 teams in the S.E.C. have returned four punts for touchdown between them. For their part, the Gators gain 7.3 yards per punt return, the fourth-fewest in the league, and, while the Big Lizards have blocked a pair of punts, they also have had two punts of their own blocked.

The Bulldogs have the conference's best field goal percentage (85.7%). The Gators have the conference's worst field goal percentage (20.0%).

In short, special teams are an area in which Georgia enjoys a clear advantage over Florida and, with a momentum-changing play or two in the kicking game, the Bulldogs could put themselves in a position to win the contest.

What outcome ought we to expect tomorrow? Stay tuned and I'll let you know.

To be continued. . . .

Go 'Dawgs!

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