I’d think we did a poor job recruiting if guys were coming in and then losing three games in a row in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. cc: @CoachDanMullen— Dawg Sports (@dawgsports) November 2, 2019
Georgia played solid, hard-nosed football on the way to a third straight victory over the Florida Gators this evening. That much you already knew.
You also likely already know that Jake Fromm shook off a couple of tough outings to complete 20 of 30 passes for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. In doing so he outdueled Florida signal caller Kyle Trask, whose 21 completions on 33 attempts also yielded two touchdown passes. You may have lost track of the fact that Trask was actually 7 of 13 on the Gators’ final drive, that chewed up 75 yards and ended in the touchdown that gave them a glimmer of hope late in this one. But again, if you watched this game you probably came away vaguely curious how Dan Mullen ever thought that Feleipe Franks was the quarterback who gave his team the best chance to win.
And you also already knew that Georgia’s 12 of 18 showing on third down was perhaps the most critical statistic of the entire contest. It went hand in hand with the Red and Black’s 35:48 to 24:12 advantage in time of possession. If it seemed like the Bulldogs held the ball for most of the game on offense, that would be why.
I’m not telling you anything you weren’t aware of when I point out that Lawrence Cager’s return from a shoulder injury could not have come at a better time. His 7 receptions for 132 yards and a decisive late touchdown likely solidified his place in Bulldog lore even if he’ll only play one season in Athens.
And it’s news to no one that D’Andre Swift remains one of the most reliable tailbacks in college football. His 86 yards on 25 carries was solid if not spectacular. But the threat that he might take off downfield at any given time was one reason Florida defenders seemed to be caught with their eyes in the backfield more than once.
Because you saw it with your own eyes, you won’t be surprised when I tell you the Bulldog defense looks very good, though not necessarily as good as they need to be if this team wants to make a run to the college football playoff. I said at halftime that it was hard to believe that the Gator offense could get to 20 points, but they came awfully close against a UGA defense that just looked ‘Dawg tired late. The pace won’t get much slower next week against Missouri. But in the end analysis Georgia enjoyed a 398 to 278 edge in yardage allowed. And Dan Lanning’s unit only surrendered first downs on 22% of Florida’s third down tries. That’s a solid effort against an offense that has begun to come out of its shell behind Trask.
You may or may not have known that the 17 points was Florida’s lowest offensive output of the season. If you didn’t at least you can say you learned something from this column.
And finally, I hope it’s not news to you that James Coley probably earned a little leeway in this one. Sure, 24 points isn’t a fantastic output. But the three field goals were as much a result of solid execution by the Florida defense in the red zone as anything. Florida came into this one among the best teams in the country in red zone defense, and they did what they’ve been doing. That, and stop me if you’re sensing a theme, shouldn’t be a surprise.
What Coley did do was dial up some solidly imaginative third down play calls. He also got the ball out on the perimeter in the run game, even against a Gator defense that is strongest on the edges of the defensive front seven. It was a good example of having confidence in your players to make plays, and it was something this offense can certainly build on going forward.
And there’s one other thing I don’t have to tell any of you, but I’m going to do it anyway:
Beating the Florida Gators never, ever gets old. And doing it once again to that self-congratulating Cousin Eddie look-alike is all the more sweet.
Gator fans: “Do you know what 9-3 at Mississippi State equates to at a program like Florida?!?!”— Dawg Sports (@dawgsports) November 2, 2019
Me: “By the looks of it,uh, something like 9-3?”
Always and forever . . .