I’m going to offer a handful of observations, after which I personally would prefer never to speak of this again:
- As I alluded to in the early comment thread, I felt worse and worse about this game the closer we got to kickoff. The more I thought about the bye week, and the Florida Gators’ desperation, and the return to health of a few Floridians who were at less than 100 per cent during the Sunshine State Saurians’ losing streak, the more worried I became.
- Related to that point, how lucky can one team in a given rivalry get? We never catch these guys when they have key guys out, the way Mississippi State caught them; they invariably catch us at the most inopportune times (i.e., during the one game D.J. Shockley was injured in 2005). For crying out loud, Florida benefited from its own false start penalties, which erased positive Georgia plays on more than one occasion in a game in which the Orange and Blue were penalized nine times to the Bulldogs’ two. The ludicrous extent to which random chance favors the Gators would be comical, if it weren’t so gut-wrenching.
- The Georgia Bulldogs wore their silver britches, but they also brought their silver platters, on which they offered up this game to the Orange and Blue. Three first-half turnovers became 14 Florida points, and a Trey Burton fumble that should’ve been fallen on inside the Gators’ 15 yard line instead was returned to the Floridians possession when a Bulldog defender foolishly attempted a scoop and score; thus, a play that ought to have produced a Georgia drive beginning in the opponent’s red zone instead extended an Orange and Blue touchdown march. At worst, the Red and Black should have held a 10-0 halftime lead. The Bulldogs gave the Gators everything they got in the first half.
- We’ve all been waiting for Aaron Murray to have a game in which he looked like a redshirt freshman, and now the other shoe has dropped. Despite an atrocious start, though, the Georgia quarterback came back to post a respectable stat line (18 of 37 for 313 yards). He threw three touchdown passes and turned the ball over four times (three interceptions and a fumble); had his touchdowns and his turnovers been even, we’d have won the game.
- It really was as close as the final score indicated. Florida led by one in first downs (23-22) and by eleven yards in total offense (450-439). Had Georgia held the ball for 38 more seconds, the two teams’ time of possession would have been identical.
- While this loss feels a lot like the Arkansas game, there is one critical difference: questionable coaching doomed the ‘Dawgs against the Razorbacks, but the Georgia staff generally coached a good game this time. The game plan and the in-game adjustments generally were good, aside from our continued inability to defend the wheel route. By the way, for everyone who was worried about "third and Grantham" after last week, the Bulldogs converted eight of 15 third downs while limiting Florida to four of 14 on third down and stopping the Gators short on their one fourth-down try. After allowing 21 first-half points in spite of a key defensive stop to start the game, Georgia held Florida to ten points in the final 30 minutes of regulation play.
- How much does that bye week matter? Healthy returning players and a retooled offense made a world of difference for the Gators. The folks who say we should move the Georgia-Florida game are right, but the change should be a chronological one, not a geographic one. The Bulldogs are 8-14 all-time against the Gators in October and 39-26-2 against them in November. We don’t need the game to be nearer; we need it to be later.
- We still can’t get over the hump, but, even in defeat, the ‘Dawgs at least reversed the trend of the last two games, which were disasters. As lopsided as the series recently has been in the record book, the fact remains that, between 1990 and 1998, seven of nine meetings were decided by margins of at least 20 points, but six of the last nine have been settled by a touchdown or less.
- I am proud of this team for fighting through the adversity. Down 21-7 at the half and knowing Florida would get the ball to start the third quarter, this Georgia team fought where the two previous Bulldog squads folded. The defense came up with a big stop to start the second half, after which the offense drove 65 yards and kicked a field goal. The defense forced a three-and-out, then the offense answered with a touchdown. The heart shown by the Bulldogs makes the loss hurt worse, but, when the sun rises tomorrow (and it will), it will make the future appear more bright. I’m disappointed to a degree I lack the vocabulary adequately to describe, but I’m not sorry for believing in this team.
- Chris Rainey caught two passes for nine yards, returned six kickoffs for 148 yards, and ran the ball 16 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. Prior to today’s game, Rainey also was arrested after texting "time to die" to a woman, was dismissed from the team, agreed to a deferral to a misdemeanor charge, and was reinstated to the team following the Gators’ three-game losing streak. Given the fates met by Michael Lemon, Montez Robinson, Zach Mettenberger, and Demetre Baker in Athens, I don’t think there’s any doubt that, had Rainey been a Bulldog, Mark Richt would have dismissed him from the team, and he would have stayed dismissed from the team. I watched today’s game with my seven-year-old son, and I was able to look him in the eye afterward and feel comfortable with having taught him to cheer for Mark Richt’s team. While I would have been happier with the result, I wouldn’t have been able to have looked him in the eye and felt comfortable with having taught him to cheer for Urban Meyer’s team.