1. Coleman and Benson – Georgia’s defense will have a big challenge in the Orange Bowl against a talented Florida State offense. The loss of quarterback Jordan Travis in the South Alabama game was a huge blow (in so many ways) to the Seminoles. But there is a lot of talent on this Seminoles offense. At the top of the list is wide receiver Keon Coleman and running back Tray Benson. Coleman is a dangerous pass catcher who can make the big grab over the middle and break loose for long gainers. At 6-4, 215, he has the size that NFL scouts love. Coleman is a tough matchup in every way. He has 11 touchdowns on 50 catches for 658 yards, an average of 13.2 per grab. In the red zone, Coleman is extra dangerous. We’ll see if it’s Blake Rodemaker or Brock Glenn at quarterback, maybe both. Coleman is an elite target, no matter who is throwing the football. Benson is one of the top running backs in the country. This season, he’s totalled 905 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, averaging 5.8 yards per pop. This is outstanding skill position talent for the Seminoles. Lawrence Toafili has big play pop as well, and is a terrific “second back.” Florida State will do all it can to get the ball into the hands of its playmakers, most notably, Coleman and Benson.
2. FSU Defense – The Seminoles defense has risen to the occasion the last two times out. The loss of Travis, one of college football’s top quarterbacks, cut into Florida State’s offensive prowess. The Seminoles defense has answered the bell. Travis went down against North Alabama, and FSU roared back to win 58-13. Florida State fell behind Florida, but fought back to beat the Gators in The Swamp 24-15. In the ACC Championship Game, the Seminoles beat Louisville 16-6. The highlight was a critical interception after a miscue in the punt game with the Seminoles hanging on to a 10-6 lead. FSU gives up just 15.9 points per game. The ‘Noles have been really good on third down, allowing just a 27.2 conversion rate. Georgia’s offense, especially the front, will have its hands full with a tough, fast, aggressive athletic Seminoles defense. Just like Clemson, Florida State is an ACC program that has elite SEC level talent.
3. Kicking Game – The season opener and bowl game usually show the most what teams have put the most time and effort into special teams. Georgia has been strong in the kicking game this year this season, so have the Seminoles. Hot take, they wouldn’t be 12-1 and 13-0 if they weren’t good on special teams. Ryan Fitzgerald is 18-of-20 on field goals and Alex Mastromanno averages 45.3 yards per punt. Catch that punt Dawgs. Georgia freshman Peyton Woodring has been fantastic. His streak of 16 consecutive made field goals unfortunately came to an end when a false start in Atlanta turned a 45-yarder into a 50-yarder that hit the crossbar. He has been clutch. His 48-yard field goal against Missouri midway through the fourth quarter that gave Georgia a nine point lead in the 30-21 victory over the Tigers is one of the Bulldogs biggest plays of the year. Brett Thorson and Georgia’s punt coverage unit has been tremendous. How about a Blutarski. 0.0. The opposition has not attempted a punt return all season. Florida State meanwhile, has Coleman, who averages 12 yards per return, with a long of 78.
4. 70 and a half KB – It is the greatest kick ever that was not made. Georgia and Florida State were tied up 17-17 in the 1984 Citrus Bowl. It was the last play of the game. Kevin Butler, who struck from 60 in September to beat Clemson, told holder Jimmy Harrell to lay it back when he teed it up. Paul Messer made a perfect snap, and KB nearly made what would have been the longest field goal of all time. Anywhere. The 71-yard attempt came up … just … short … and the game ended in a 17-17 tie. Even though it was no good, this epic boot goes down as one of the greatest kicks ever.
5. Miami and Mansion – It was December of 2007, and basketball travel was good. Georgia had beaten the Jackets and was ranked second, Sugar Bowl bound. All the while, I was on the road to the Bahamas, Hawaii and Miami for the grind of holiday season basketball. One of Georgia’s all-time great tennis legends, “Gorgeous” George Bezecny, national champion All-American, resides in South Florida. When the Lady Dogs arrived, a few days before tipoff after Christmas, I departed for the fabulous Fontainbleau Hotel, made famous by Frank Sinatra, James Bond, Jill Masterson, Odd Job and Auric Goldfinger. One round blew my first night’s budget. We wound up going to a South Beach nightclub, meeting some of his clients and their kids armed with healthy trust funds, called “Mansion.” This is one of those bottle service type places with which I was/am completely unfamiliar. There were numerous pop music and reality TV stars there. I asked George what I should wear, he said, “don’t worry, you don’t own it.” The people watching was something. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more out of place. When I returned to the team hotel a couple of days later on game day, a few of our players asked where I had been. I told them, and scored some major “cool points” and street cred, as the “beautiful people” of Mansion that night – I believe Soulja Boy and at least one Kardashian, who would be hosting a New Year’s Eve Party, onsite – had made it onto the nightly scoop of E TV. A couple of our players said they needed to roll with me and George. I was quite proud.