The Georgia-Florida rivalry is back to being fun. Not just because Georgia has won three in a row ( ) but because these are now two relatively evenly matched teams, playing in their 3rd straight top 10 match-up with an East title essentially on the line. Sure, it felt great to get that erotic shark lover fired but this rivalry is back to where it should be in the landscape of college football. The great news is that Florida replaced their dorsal obsessed head man with an equally hate-able emotional basket case as proved by last weekends fight at midfield against Mizzou. Maybe Mullen felt his team was flat and needed firing up in the half prior to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Or maybe causing a halftime brawl where two players get suspended and then showing up to the post game presser in a Halloween costume is just plain weird. I guess we will find out this weekend. If there wasn’t enough anxiety present this entire week, Saturday should really ramp it up.
I have no idea what happened last week. I’m not sure if run the ball, shorten the game and get home to prep for Florida was the game plan coming in or if Monken felt really limited by Stetsons passing ability without George Pickens in the lineup. You’ve got to be encouraged by the way Georgia ran the ball with excellent combo blocking and physical running style. However, you are probably as equally terrified by a stagnant pass game and a bevy of batted passes. Georgia will have to shift their style and efficiency in a hurry to be able to keep up with Florida.
Overall, Georgia played very well on defense although they were hardly tested through the air (I am not sure I knew how poorly Joey Gatewood would perform in the passing game). Where Georgia struggled the most against Kentucky is in defending the perimeter edge. Kentucky and OC Eddie Gran were identifying the open edge almost every play and running directly at it, hoping that OLBs would dive inside. This issue was quickly fixed as Georgia moved towards a 5 man surface, limiting UK’s ability to run outside. Given the tape and Florida’s normal propensity to favor their pass game, watch for Dan Mullen to try to exploit Georgia’s edges again in the perimeter run game. I expect Georgia to get their alignment and edge defense cleaned up so they can take away this threat and focus on Florida’s bread and butter pass game.
Most important players
Tyrique Stevenson / Mark Webb- Georgia may be the only team in the country that has two really talented players that mostly defend from the slot that can match up with Kyle Pitts. Stevenson brings the athletic ability and Webb brings the size. This matchup is will be the most critical battle on the field on every down
Chris Smith- how does the newcomer play in his first game as a starter? He was splitting some 1st team practice reps with Lewis Cine prior to this week
Jalen Carter- Carter will have to step up for a likely injured Jordan Davis. Carter has all the talent and has flashed excellent ability to get into the backfield but he will have to prove it over a full game this week. Jordan Davis was able to rack up a sack last year against Florida and Carter’s interior pass rush ability is one of his best traits. He needs a sack this week.
Jermaine Burton- with Pickens slightly hobbled, Burton becomes an even more important piece this week
Entire offensive line- not only is it critical to establish a dynamic rushing attack against this defense but the technique offensive lineman use in pass protection will also be critical. Stetson Bennet’s height isn’t changing from last week, which makes it all the more important for offensive lineman to do everything they can to knock the ever-living hell out of Florida’s defensive lineman whenever they get their hands up. It’s extremely tough to have the presence of mind to essentially defend against batted balls from an offensive line perspective. However, with how frequently Bennett is being deflected, I’m sure it was an emphasis this week. Due to his size and release, Bennett needs protecting in the pocket even when he’s not threatened by a sack.
Darnell Washington- the way this game sets up, Georgia will be in a good amount of 3rd and 4 following 1st and 2nd down runs. Washington made a huge catch on a wheel route last week and needs to be a major factor this week leaking out from his normal run blocking roll. If Washington gets 2 receptions, Dawgs win. There was also a pretty important 3rd down conversion in last year’s game by Eli Wolf. It would be huge for a freshman to have that kind of moment in 2020
James Cook- Cook allows Georgia to break out of their typical offensive rhythm. He always needs to be accounted for and keeps defenses off balance. He could bust a long run or long reception that would be huge for momentum and get Georgia out of 3-5 yard chunk plays
I expect Georgia to have success in slowing Florida’s run game. Even with Jordan Davis unlikely to play, I see Travon Walker, Devonte Wyatt and Jalen Carter continuing to be very disruptive on the interior. As I mentioned, Georgia will look to improve their edge defense and stifle the Gators run game all together. Where Georgia will be more challenged is in Florida’s intermediate and deep passing game. Florida of course has intermediate weapons in Kyle Pitts and Kandarius Toney that will challenge slot corners and LBs consistently throughout the contest. What may be even more nerve racking is Florida’s deep shot ability with Toney and Trevon Grimes, especially without the experienced presence of Richard LeCounte at safety. You also must be very solid in tackling when facing Toney as he has made several plays this year where he breaks through arm tackles for long TDs. This is where missing LeCounte really has me worried as Lewis Cine’s tackling has been suspect (much like LeCounte’s was as a sophomore) and Chris Smith is unproven. Offensively, I expect Georgia to lean on their consistent run game while opening up the passing attack much more than last week. As you well know, Florida’s defense is susceptible to the passing game, especially on 3rd down.
Georgia Musts to Win
· 4 Sacks on defense (I think this could be a big game for Adam Anderson)
· Limit to 2 or less sacks on offense
· Limit to less than 3 batted balls
· Win turnover battle
· Pass for over 200 yards
· Convert 60% of 3rd downs on offense (Florida is allowing opponents 49.1% conversion)
· Points or very short field (20 yards or less) off defensive or special teams play
Unfortunately, I think that is a lot that must go right and no matter how well our defense plays, it may not be enough to make up for possible stagnation on offense. I think this is one of the games in the SEC where you will need a dynamic QB to win it and unfortunately, I do not think Georgia has that right now. It pains me to say it, but I think this one is tough…Florida 27 Georgia 23
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
Last Week: 3-2
1. Liberty +15.5 vs Virginia Tech
2. Oklahoma -24 1H vs Kansas
3. Vanderbilt +19.5 vs Mississippi St
4. Clemson -5 vs Notre Dame
5. Coastal Carolina -17 vs South Alabama