1 – Turnovers – In the first three games of the season, Georgia had zero turnovers and outscored Oregon, South Carolina by a cumulative score of 130-10. In a clunky win over Kent State, and a narrow victory at Missouri, turnovers plagued the Bulldogs. There was one against Auburn and none versus Vanderbilt. Protecting the football is essential. But Kirby Smart would love to see his defense – and special teams – create some turnovers. Remember how tight last year’s game was? Florida unwisely ran an interception out of the end zone. Then came a fumble that led to a Georgia touchdown, an interception that set up a Bulldogs TD and Nakobe Dean’s epic Pick Six that proved to be the knockout blow. All of that with under three minutes to go in the first half. There’s always energy and noise with the crowd split in half. Turnovers in Jacksonville seem to “just mean more.”
2 – Corral Richardson – Anthony Richardson is a big play-maker for the Gators at quarterback. He has a huge arm and is an extremely dangerous runner. When Richardson gets loose, the Gators offense is downright lethal. There’s skill and speed all around him, plus a tough and physical offensive line. Keeping containment, not over- pursuing, and not rushing past Richardson are essential to success. He’s a load, and no fun to tackle running downhill.
3 – Win the Run Game – In the history of this rivalry, along with turnovers, the most telling factor in who wins this legendary, emotional rivalry is the run game. The team that runs the ball better, in general, wins. Run it better and win the turnover battle, that’s a solid recipe for victory. Daijun Edwards, Kenny McIntosh and Branson Robinson are tough and physical. That Bulldogs offensive line has to give them a little bit of space. Georgia also must come up with, as Smart says, “creative ways to run the football.” And get the ball to #19 Brock Bowers.
4 – Strike Downfield – The Florida secondary is athletic. Always is. The Gators will certainly try multiple looks to try and create pressure against the Georgia passing game. Stetson Bennett IV is hopeful of having his healthiest collection of pass-catchers since the season-opening victory over Oregon. When the plays are there, it’s vital to strike. Georgia will have to run it strong, and hit through the air. It’s a good bet that Florida will stack the front and force the Bulldogs to lead with the passing game.
5 – Conquer the Kicking Game – The winds blow funny in Jacksonville. They come whipping in off the St. Johns River and swirl through the old Gator Bowl. A lot of excellent kickers have had nightmare afternoons and early evenings in Jacksonville. Making the kicks you’re “supposed” to make is essential. Field position with punting and a burst from the return game can make the difference. Then of course there is the potential of the double, a turnover in the return game. Watch the fake and the surprise onsides kick Dawgs! It’s a good bet, especially with the open week, the Gators will try something tricky to try and steal a possession.