Whip the Gators – ET’s Florida Preview

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Whip the Gators – ET’s Florida Preview

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Sony Michel late Q4 run
Sony Michel late Q4 run
[su_spacer size=”40″] As a native south Georgian from a family of Bulldogs with a whole set of 1st cousins who grew up as Gators, I think the Cocktail Party is the most important game of the year. I don’t care about records, championship implications, or how pretty or ugly it is. I just want us to win this game more than any other. My stomach will be in knots all day, and that’s why I plan to play golf in the morning … to try to take my mind off the game at 3:30 on the banks of the St. Johns River. Let’s get to the preview.
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When Georgia Has the Ball

Rumors continue to swirl about who will take the 1st snap at Everbank Field as reports indicate 3rd team quarterback Faton Bauta may get the start.  If so, the Georgia program hasn’t indicated it as Greyson Lambert is listed on the game day official depth chart on georgiadogs.com as the starting quarterback. While this has created a lot of chatter, the bottom line is that the QB isn’t going to win or lose the game for the Dawgs. When you look at the 6 games Georgia has won against Florida since 1990, the constant across those wins is that the Georgia offensive line came to play and punched the Gator front 7 in the mouth early and often as Robert Edwards, Danny Ware, Knowshon Moreno, and Todd Gurley went over 100 yards.  The only exception was 2011, but Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel combined for 139 yards on that day. I’ll be honest … I’ve been very disappointed in the performance of the Georgia offensive line this year as the Dawgs have struggled to open running lanes especially since the Alabama game. If this unit doesn’t play their best game of the year against the Gator front 7, the Georgia offense has no shot to score enough to beat the Gators.

When Florida Has the Ball

Although Jim McElwain has gotten the Gator offense on the right track very quickly since he landed in Gainesville, this offense doesn’t evoke images of the Fun and Gun of the 90s or the spread option of the Meyer era. Treon Harris is a serviceable quarterback who was forced into action after the suspension of Will Grier. Kelvin Taylor is a darn good running back as we unfortunately saw last year in Jacksonville. If the Georgia front 7 can play as they did against Missouri, they can dominate the Gator offensive line that starts 3 sophomores and has 5(!) freshmen as back-ups.  The law firm of Jenkins, Floyd and Carter have the opportunity to show up in Jacksonville tomorrow to make life miserable for the Gator offense similar to the 2 games where Jarvis Jones singlehandedly clamped down on the Florida offense.  If the Dawgs can get the Gator offense behind the chains, I like the Georgia defense to make life difficult for the Gators.

What Will Happen

Everyone knows what’s on the line this afternoon.  A Florida win virtually guarantees them a spot in Atlanta as the East’s representative and possibly an inside track to a New Year’s 6 bowl game especially if they beat FSU at the end of the regular season or a trip to the playoff if the Gators were to win the SEC championship.  A Georgia win enables the Dawgs to control their own destiny regarding a return to Atlanta on the 1st weekend in December and keeps them in the hunt for a New Year’s 6 game and an outside shot at the playoff.

This game comes down to the line of scrimmage.  The men in the trenches will be the ones responsible for whichever team takes the Okefenokee Oar back to campus on Halloween night. I like both front-7s to control the game as both sides are deep, talented, and athletic. Someone is going to create a back-breaking late turnover that ends up as the difference maker in the game.  My heart says that’s going to be Georgia, but my head tells me it’s going to be Florida. I’m afraid the head is winning out as I write this …

Please, please, please, Dawgs, send me a great recipe for crow au vin on Saturday night.

Final Score: Florida 27, Georgia 21

Other games of interest: I have no interest in any other game that takes place on Saturday other than the Cocktail Party. No matter what the schools may say this game will ALWAYS be the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Embrace it … the fans still do.

That’s what I think. I would love to read and react to your comments below.
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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!