Bulldogs to Watch: Georgia vs. Florida

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Bulldogs to Watch: Georgia vs. Florida

Kirby Smart and the UGA coaching staff celebrating during the fourth quarter of the 2018 Georgia-Florida game
Kirby Smart and the UGA coaching staff celebrating during the fourth quarter of the 2018 Georgia-Florida game

KIRBY SMART (Head Coach)

Smart has won some big games in his four seasons at the Georgia helm … the SEC Championship Game in 2017 and the CFP Rose Bowl game that same season that sent the Bulldogs on to the National Championship Game, the Notre Dame wins in 2017 and this season and consecutive victories over Florida in 2017 and ‘18. And now another crucial game looms this Saturday for Smart and his coaching staff, with the Gators standing in the 8th-ranked Bulldogs’ way of Georgia’s trek to a third consecutive SEC East Division title. As the Bulldogs will need to be at their best on the field in Jacksonville, Smart and the UGA staff will also have to be at their best on the sideline, implementing the plays both offensively and defensively that will give their players the best opportunity to gig the Gators and stay alive in the race to Atlanta.

JAKE FROMM (QB, #11)

The Bulldogs’ unquestioned offensive leader the past three seasons, Fromm will need to be at the top of his game against a crashing Florida defense Saturday afternoon on the banks of the St. Johns River. This season to date, the junior quarterback has passed for 1,406 yards and nine touchdowns, completing passes at a 70.69 percentage rate. But then, Fromm and the Bulldog passing game has struggled in their last two outings, in an upset loss to South Carolina and in a win over Kentucky, which was played in a driving rainstorm. With Dan Mullen’s Gators sure to stack the box to slow down the SEC’s leading rusher, D’Andre Swift, it’s imperative that Jake Fromm and the Georgia wideouts get the aerial game clicking once again.

Andrew Thomas (71)
Andrew Thomas (71)

ANDREW THOMAS (OT, #71)

Georgia’s All-America and All-SEC left tackle is having another great season for the Bulldogs’ offensive front. Now, once again, Thomas and his teammates are facing the ultimate challenge in the Gators’ defensive front, which ranks 10th in the nation in QB sacks. This 6-5, 320-pound junior earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors in the season opener at Vanderbilt when the Bulldogs rushed for 325 yards, and Thomas and Georgia’s offensive line will need to be at their very best Saturday at TIAA Bank Field, both in opening holes for the Bulldog running attack and also protecting Fromm when he drops back to throw the ball.

TYLER CLARK (DT, #52)

Clark, a solid leader of the Bulldogs’ defensive front, will be motivated for his last shot at the Florida Gators this weekend. The 6-4, 300-pound senior has started all seven games this season and has recorded 14 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and two assisted tackles-for-loss. Clark, from Americus, also has had six quarterback pressures. One of Georgia’s defensive standouts in the Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma two years ago, Tyler Clark will be out to bring pressure on Florida quarterback Kyle Trask when the Gator offense takes the field. 

Isaiah Wilson (79)
Isaiah Wilson (79)

ISAIAH WILSON (OT, #79)

The Bulldogs’ other bookend tackle on the right side of the line, this mammoth (6-7, 340) redshirt sophomore out of Brooklyn, N.Y. will be another huge key for Georgia’s offense Saturday against the talented Gator defensive unit. Like Thomas, Wilson has been named to the Outland Trophy Watch List and, also like his tackle counterpart, he’s likely a future NFL high draft pick with his combination of power and quickness off the ball. Wilson, who missed the Murray State and Arkansas State games with an injury, should be primed to move out Gator defenders Saturday afternoon.

ERIC STOKES (CB, #27)

Stokes, a 6-1, 185-pound redshirt sophomore out of Covington, Ga., has quickly evolved into one of the top cornerbacks in the Southeastern Conference. Stokes not only has recorded 17 tackles this season but also a team-high eight pass breakups. In the upset loss to South Carolina, he notched a career-high six tackles. Facing the challenge of Florida’s Trask throwing to the Gators’ talented receiver corps, Stokes and the rest of the Bulldog secondary should be up for that challenge in Jacksonville, Fla.

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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.