This is not your mom and dad’s normal match-up preview. Jeff Dantzler takes a look at the Dawgs vs Gators – the intangibles.
THE UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE
With the crowd split in half, there is always noise, energy and an unmatched atmosphere. For first year players that can take some getting used to. When you are winning at home, it’s rocking. When you’re losing, it can get quiet and nervy. Vice-a-Versa on the road. Those adrenaline bumps are easy for everyone to get. Oh yeah, and then you throw in that it’s Georgia-Florida and there is a lot of familiarity, history and bad blood. Play with fire, yet control those emotions. Usually easier said than done. It’s a big challenge and charge for the Bulldogs first year head coach Kirby Smart, who by the way, had an outstanding performance at safety in the Bulldogs 37-17 victory over the Gators in 1997.
KIRBY COME OUT HOT VS. FLORIDA
From the book of Captain Obvious … you want to win every game, every time. But this is a big opportunity for the Bulldogs to start to shift this vital series back Georgia’s way. It would be enormous if Smart could come out of the gates at 1-0 against Florida and his former Alabama staff- mate, Gator head coach Jim McElwain.
HISTORY OF 2011
You don’t have to be a Magna Cum Laude Bulldog Historian to painfully recollect Georgia’s numerous special team’s woes through the years in Jacksonville. That’s been one of the biggest reasons that Florida has dominated the series in the 21st century. In 2011, with senior kicker Blair Walsh struggling, the Dogs went another route. Twice in the red zone, while facing fourth and not short, Georgia went for it and connected on a pair of critical touchdowns in the 24-20 victory. To win this game often requires going off-plan, at least a little – and then making something special happen.
EMERGENCE OF A SECRET WEAPON
While the best players have to come up big in the “Cocktail Party,” there is often the unsung hero who steps to the forefront. Remember 2004 when the Bulldogs were riding a six game losing streak to Florida, it was Leonard Pope’s coming out party. He hauled in a pair of touchdowns and it was a huge part of the Bulldogs 31-24 win. Richard Samuel’s hard running was critical, and the backbone of the Dogs 24-20 triumph in 2011. If Georgia is to pull it out, that supporting actor must take a leading role.