The Big Five – Florida

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The Big Five – Florida

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defense, Georgia-Florida line (Photo by John Kelley)
defense, Georgia-Florida line
(Photo by John Kelley)
[su_spacer size=”40″] While Georgia ventures south with a 5-2 season mark and 3-2 SEC record, the Gators of first-year head coach Jim McElwain ripped off six consecutive wins this season before dropping a tough 35¬28 game to LSU in Baton Rouge, Saturday before last. Florida, 4-1 in the league, has toppled New Mexico State (61-13), East Carolina (31-24), Kentucky (14-9), Tennessee (28-27, when the Gators came from 13 down with less than five minutes to play), Ole Miss (38-10) and Missouri (21-3). Florida bounced Ole Miss from the ranks of the unbeaten after the Rebels’ earlier win over Alabama and in the LSU game, the Gators rallied from a 28-14 halftime deficit only to lose tough at the end via a Tiger fake field goal touchdown.
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Florida enters the Georgia game averaging 31.6 points per outing and rates as one of the top defensive teams in the nation by giving up just 17.3point s per game and allowing only 116 rushing yards per contest.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Defensive leaders include first-team All-American and two-time All-SEC cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (5-11, 198, Jr.), fellow defensive backs Brian Poole (5-10, 208, Sr.) and Keanu Neal (6-1, 209, Jr.), senior linebacker Antonio Morrison (6-1, 225) and junior linebacker Jarrad Davis (6-2, 229) and senior defensive end Jon Bullard (6-3,277). Shut-down corner Hargreaves already has three interceptions with a whopping 132 yards in returns; Morrison is the leading tackler with 54 after totaling 101 stops last season and is followed by former Camden County standout LB Davis with 49 tackles and safety Neal with 47 stops.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Offensively, with the Gators losing 1,204-yard passer Will Grier prior to the LSU game due to a one-year NCAA suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, 2014 starter Treon Harris (5-11, 193, soph.) stepped in against the Tigers and proceeded to pass for 271 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Florida’s top receivers are junior Demarcus Robinson (6-1, 197), senior tight end Jake McGee (6-6, 243) and sophomore Brandon Powell (5-9, 181). Robinson, from Fort Valley, Ga., shows 36 catches for 371 yards and two touchdowns, McGee has 23 receptions for 200 yards and three scores and slot receiver Powell has 20 catches for 294 yards and also three TDs.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Kelvin Taylor (5-10, 209, Jr.), son of former Florida and Jacksonville Jaguars great Fred Taylor, is far and away the Gators’ leading rusher with his 463 yards and eight touchdowns. Still another dangerous Florida weapon is freshman receiver Antonio Callaway (5-11, 185), who had the winning 63-yard touchdown catch and run to beat Tennessee in the final minutes and also returned an LSU punt 72 yards for a touchdown.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Thus, armed with their usual array of talent, here are the Big Five factors the Gators need to master to post their second consecutive win over the Bulldogs this Saturday:
[su_spacer size=”40″] 1. Put the clamps on the Georgia running game
[su_spacer size=”40″] With the Bulldogs’ passing attack most shaky this season, load the box and really get after Sony Michel, Keith Marshall and Brendan Douglas. This worked well for the Missouri defense and Gators, you have the defense to shut down Georgia just as you did Ole Miss.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 2. Bring the heat on Lambert
[su_spacer size=”40″] This goes hand in hand with No. 1. If the Bulldogs can’t run the ball well, it will put the game in Georgia QB Greyson Lambert’s hands and lie; hasn’t been comfortable in the pocket in that scenario (see Alabama, Mizzou games).
[su_spacer size=”40″] 3. Treon Harris, do your thing
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Florida quarterback only had to hand the ball to his running backs in last year’s stunning 38-20 upset of Georgia but, this year, Harris will have to do much more. The Bulldog defense has had its problems against dual-threat QBs (see Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs) so Harris, throw the ball like you did against LSU and also bite the Bulldogs by keeping it for key first downs.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 4. Get Kelvin Taylor going early
[su_spacer size=”40″] With his quickness, Taylor can do damage even against a stout UGA run defense. A couple of long scampers Saturday would greatly complement Harris’s running and passing.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 5. Jump the Dawgs early on
[su_spacer size=”40″] With the stakes so high in this game and Georgia certainly being primed to avenge last season’s stinging loss to Florida, don’t let the Bulldogs bolt into an early lead and thereby gain needed confidence. Score first Gators and keep up the intensity the entire four quarters.
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[su_spacer size=”40″] Make sure to check out Bulldawg Illustrated’s latest print edition: Trick or Treat, digital issue available for free online. CLICK HERE.
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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.