10:46 pm Saturday night

October 29, 2006

I’m a happy Gator tonight.

It was not the prettiest or the most satisfying win today, but anytime you can return from Jacksonville with a win, you take it. It was a clear, windy day with a slight chill in the air. By the end, just about all Florida fans were wearing jackets or sweatshirts of some kind. The final score, 21-14, did not really reflect how the game went. It’s hard for a score to reflect a game like that.

The Gators were in full control in the first half, finishing with a 14 point lead at halftime. It should have been a larger lead, but Florida kept killing its own drives with penalties, dropped passes, and other execution problems. Both teams played sloppily, which seems to be a hallmark of Gator games this year. Neither team in any of their games has been particularly sharp. I can’t remember the last time a season has been like that.

Anyway, Florida came out and got a touchdown right away to go up 21-0, and it seemed like the game had been put away. Florida’s side of the stadium was rocking, Georgia’s was demoralized, and it seemed an insurmountable lead with a shaky freshman quarterback trying to run the Bulldogs’ offense.

Then a funny thing happened. Florida couldn’t put drives together anymore. The secondary playing so far off of the receivers allowed Matt Stafford to get in a rhythm and comfort zone. Tim Tebow, to the utter shock and disbelief of Florida fans (most of whom refuse to admit that he is just a freshman) fumbled, and then it was a game again.

Fortunately, Florida’s defense tightened up, Florida got a couple of first downs (one only because of a Georgia facemask penalty), and then they were able to take a couple of knees and run the clock out. Shortly after it went final, the public address announcer (who, along with the scoreboard operator, had a really bad game) announced that Oregon State had held on to beat USC. It was a win for Florida, and any win is a good win, but it was not terribly satisfying.

For the second straight week, Florida did not score an offensive point in the second half. Today, the Chris Hetland missed two field goals in UF’s only scoring opportunities after halftime. Urban Meyer definitely adjusted the offense to get Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and Tim Tebow in the game, and all three had mixed results. Caldwell played the best of the three though. The offense did become predictable in a way, and it showed in the second half. He went too far the other way with the offense, and they definitely underused DeShawn Wynn.

There’s give and take with everything, and it’s hard to complain too much when you leave with a win. The intensity for the game was lower than normal before the game, with Georgia fans not giving their team much of a chance. There were plenty of Bulldogs who left before or at halftime as there were small but noticeable amounts of teal in the red and black across the way. Once Georgia got some things going in the second half, they definitely woke up and started to believe until Florida polished off the game in the end.

This was not a typical Florida – Georgia game, but few things are ever normal at this game. The important thing is that UF survived and won, moving to 7-1 overall, 5-1 in the SEC, and to about 7th or 8th in the polls. This was especially important with Southern Cal losing. Florida still needs more help in the national title picture, but they still control the SEC. Now, it’s time to go up to Nashville and take care of Vandy. It won’t be a cakewalk though, as our vanquished opponents today could have told us.


10:35 pm Friday night

October 29, 2006

Well, it’s the night before the big [BEVERAGE REDACTED] party, and we’re safe and sound at the River House. It has started to rain, and it is forecast to continue through tomorrow morning but finish by game time. I’m the only one still up, and the light of my laptop screen is the only in the house right now. It’s so dark out, it’s amazing. You never notice light pollution as much until you’re completely away from it.

The local channel 4 news talked about the Sideline Student Safety Zones, which are an excellent idea for a game like this one. They’re first aid/general aid stations for people who are lost or have had too much to drink (or too many cheeseburgers, if you ask Charlie Weis). They’ve even made it so that underage students who are intoxicated can come and get aid without fear of legal repercussions. With each of the past two years having alcohol-related deaths, it’s a very good idea.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to breakfast at a small Southern place in Georgia for breakfast before heading into the game. The game plan is, as always, to park at the convention center and take the shuttle in to the stadium. It’s apparently a great place to get out of the city and back north up here. There’s really nothing else to add, and I don’t want to keep anyone up with my light pollution here, plus the screen is attracting some little bugs that got in, with it being the only light source.

Tomorrow is going to be a good day.