There is little you can tell a Georgia fan about this match-up with the Florida Gators that they don’t already know.
Furthermore, it would be difficult to bring up a lot of the recent history between these two teams without conjuring up words like: “endzone celebration”, “eye-gouging” and “time-out”.
That said, if you want to see and read about that, trust this, there will be more than one blog or news outlet that can gladly regurgitate that information for you.
No, the point of this article, as with the ones that have come before it, is to give you the 10 points that matter about this week’s match-up, because, quite frankly, the only thing that matters to a majority of Georgia Bulldog fans is that their team comes out with the win—for a change.
Everything else is just petty fan-baiting.
That said, here are the 10 things you need to know about the Florida Gators:
1. Their pass defense is exceptional.
The stellar combination of Ahmad Black, Jeremy Brown, Janoris Jenkins, and Jonathan Bostic has been reason numero uno for the Gators stingy pass defense this season (165.0 ypg). They’ve already snatched 13 interceptions, and the talented duo of Jenkins and Brown has made sure that wide receivers know who’s boss where protecting their respective islands are concerned (10 passes defensed between the two of them).
2. Trey Burton is a definite weapon.
There is some talk going around that Urban Meyer has tweaked his stagnant offense tweaked during the bye week and you can bet that Burton will find his way onto the field this week. He’s a tough runner with a propensity for finding space where there is none, and his attitude is infectious to those on the field and in the stands.
For the Georgia defense, a unit that gave up multiple third downs against Kentucky last week (in key situations), Burton could become a factor if left unattended.
3. Their pass rush isn’t there just yet.
Last season, the Gators led the SEC in sacks (39). They’re defensive front was quick, experienced, and aggressive in getting into the backfield. However, this season, minus Carlos Dunlap or Jermaine Cunningham, the Gators front four have struggled to get the push off the edge they’re used to.
So far, this season, neither Jaye Howard nor Duke Lemmens have been able to dominate as well as they had hoped—between the two of them, they have 4.5 sacks this year.
4. Chas Henry has been money-in-the-bank.
Henry has been solid for the Gators during the month of October, posting a 53.18 punt average—to lead the nation.
That said, the punt return unit has been dreadful during that same stretch, yielding an average of 20.50 yards per return.
5. The offense has been sloppy.
That’s not news to most as the Gators woeful offensive play has been well-documented. That said, the month of October has been particularly unkind to the team as they have a -2.00 turnover margin, thanks in large part to the three fumbles and five interceptions they’ve lost.
By contrast, they were +2.00 a mere month ago.
Keeping that in mind, you have to wonder if the team has really regressed all that much or if they’ve just been on a run of bad luck—fortunes can turn quickly in the SEC.
6. Chris Rainey’s return is relevant.
Part of the reason for the Gators offensive futility is the continued absence of a solid rushing attack. Rainey has not played since week two of the season. While he may be a bit rusty upon his return, he will also be well-rested and ready to run all over and through any defense that stands in his way.
As good as Georgia’s run defense has been, they need to be wary of a guy with “something to prove” after being suspended for better than half the season.
7. John Brantley is neither as bad, nor as good as he seems.
Brantley didn’t become a mediocre quarterback overnight, but it was unfair to expect him to take over the Gator offense and not experience some growing pains. The offense is one that, honestly, is not well-suited to his pocket-passing ability, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that point out.
Understanding that, Meyer will take the steps necessary to be sure that Brantley now has more plays that enhance his skill set. If he does, Brantley has the ability to pick apart a secondary and
given Georgia’s inconsistencies in that particular area this year, his potential is a factor that doesn’t need to be overlooked heading into this game.
8. They are susceptible to the run.
That’s the amount of ground the Gators gave up, total, to Alabama, LSU, and Mississippi State–all losses.
In their four wins, they gave up a total of 376-yards (244 of which came during week two vs. South Florida).
9. Who’s their “go-to” guy?
Last year, the Gators were chock-full of guys whose numbers were ready to be called: Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon James, David Nelson, etc. This year the question isn’t whose number will they call but, rather, is any one going to be ready when they do?
Deonte Thompson hasn’t produced as well as expected, but how much of that has to do with him and how much has to do with the stalled offense is just one of the questions Meyer is looking for an answer to at the moment.
10. It’s Florida.
Listen, we can gloss over Georgia’s record but, when it comes down to it, Georgia Bulldog fans, coaches, and players want this game—bad. It doesn’t matter how poor the Gators are playing right now, that has never mattered in the past, Florida has beaten Georgia at their best and their worst—players be damned.
That said, the game on Saturday is still going to be a tough one. Thinking otherwise is just foolish.