Turnovers –Nothing shocking about this. Winning the turnover battle is absolutely essential to coming out on top in Jacksonville. Especially if that margin gets to Plus-Two. During the dismal old Gator Bowl days of the 1990s and 2000s, the Bulldogs would be hanging around, and suddenly there would be that Non-Offensive Touchdown, or big play by Florida on defense or special teams to set up the dagger score. Florida has a tremendous offense. Getting off the field, and quite possibly setting up the offense with good field position, is essential for the Bulldogs stop unit.
Win the Run Game – Even when Florida was dominating the series, Georgia’s wins in 1997, 2004 and 2007 were spearheaded by outstanding rushing attacks – Robert Edwards, the Danny Ware/Thomas Brown tandem, and Knowshon Moreno put the Bulldogs on their backs. During the three-game winning streak from 2011-2013, it was Richard Samuel and then two lights out performances from Todd Gurley. During this win streak, it’s been Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Elijah Holyfield, Brain Herrien and of course, the big play man D’Andre Swift. The big guys up front have to get movement and give Georgia’s fine corps of backs some time and room. On the flip side, the Bulldogs run defense must play its best game of the year. Because if the Gators get that cranked up, Kyle Trask and that high octane passing game will be difficult to slow down.
Torment Trask – Similar to when Jake Fromm came on for an injured Jacob Eason in the Bulldogs 2017 season-opener, Trask replaced the injured Feleipe Franks last season and ignited the Florida offense. He is accurate and throws a very good deep ball. The Gators wide receivers are fleet and fast. Georgia must pressure Trask and not let him get comfortable. If he has time consistently, the Dogs pass defense will be squarely in the Gators cross-hairs, especially considering that Florida has one of the country’s most dangerous pass-catchers.
Contain Pitts – Kyle Pitts is simply one of the best football players in America, as in one of the top five regardless of position. He is a touchdown and first down maker. At 6-6, there is no target more enticing to throw to, and no player more difficult to cover. And he can run. Both to get open, and once the ball is in his hands. He’s one of those rare players that is impossible to shut down. The goal is to minimize the damage. Whoever, and however the Bulldogs defend Pitts will be vital to victory. Nobody has been able to slow him down.
Make those Kicks – Those Jacksonville winds sweeping in off the beautiful St. Johns River through the open end of the stadium makes for tricky kicking in the old Gator Bowl, TIAA Bank Field. Many a stellar kicker has struggled in the venue. Georgia’s Jack Podlesny, from just up Interstate-95 in Saint Simons Island, will be tested. To win, he’s got to hit all the kicks from inside 40 yards – those dreaded ones that you’re “supposed” to make. Evan McPherson is a weapon for the Gators at placekicker. Jake Camarda needs a big game when it’s time to punt. As is often the case, some of the smaller players on the field could make the difference in who prevails Saturday afternoon.