My friend Frank Frangie, who is the pulse of Jacksonville sports, gives us his unique insights on the Georgia-Florida game. Frank is one of the most brilliant broadcasters in the business. I started doing segments on Jacksonville radio with Frank way back in the early 1990s. He is awesome. The Voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Frank hosts the Afternoon Drive Talk Show on 1010 XL-AM/92.5 FM and is the president of SportsDay Productions. He has been a regular contributor in this feature for BI and it’s always great hearing from him. Unfortunately, his duties with the Jags will force him to miss being there Saturday.
Talk about the impact Dan Mullen has made returning to Florida.
He’s made a gigantic impact. He did and said all the right things in the off-season, reengaged the fans, former players, etc. Then, more importantly than any of the that, it looks like he is a really good coach. It’s been awhile since Gator fans and players, for that matter, have been this confident that their coach will do the right thing.
Before the season, after the Kentucky game, did you see the Gators having this kind of resurgence so quickly?
No, I really didn’t. I thought a seven-win season would be progress and was about where I thought they would be. I thought that before the season and really thought that after the Kentucky loss. But he has made them better every week; the Gators know how to win. They aren’t great, they are flawed in many areas. But they play really hard and he makes most of the right decisions.
What is your take on Georgia?
I think Georgia is really good — I thought before the season they were as good as maybe any team in the country. I still really like the Dawgs’ team, but maybe they aren’t quite as good at the line of scrimmage as I thought. LSU is fast and physical, but I was surprised they took it to Georgia the way they did. I still think Georgia has a really good team.
Do the Florida fans expect to win Saturday?
I’m not sure Gator fans expect to win — most believe Georgia still has the better team. But I’ll put it this way … a month ago or so Florida fans thought Georgia would run them out of the stadium. I think they’re much more excited about the prospects than they were then.
What does Florida need to do to win?
Florida has to run to win. They have to make Jake Fromm — or Fields — throw when they want him to, not on Georgia’s schedule. The Gators aren’t super physical defensively, but they are very fast on defense, just like most Florida teams, even the bad ones, have been. So if they don’t get gutted up front — on both sides of the ball — they will be in it.
What makes this game so special to you Frank?
I grew up here, Jeff. I won’t be at this one — I’ll be in England calling Jags-Eagles the next day — but I’ve been to 39 of these. I did 32 in a row … 1982 through 2013, until I missed 2014 while also traveling with the Jags. The game means so much to our city. It is our Mardi Gras and New Years Eve all rolled into one. The city shuts down and puts on its best for all the visitors. The parties, the festivities, the Hall of Fame luncheon, RV City, etc. There is just nothing like it. Here or anywhere.
What is your prediction?
I think Georgia wins. Florida is coming; they have the right coach, he is ahead of schedule, this thing is on the right track. But the Dogs are better. And I think hungry as heck. The Gators will battle them, but I’ll say: Georgia 27, Florida 23.