Gators Pregame: Georgia

Pregame Jaws

Florida is 18-9 in the eighth game of the season, though that is mostly because of the 1980s. From 1990 on, Florida played Georgia nearly every year in the eighth game, and being aware of the streak as we all are, that means the losses were 37-17 in 1997 and 31-24 in 2004 at the hands of Georgia.

In the ‘80s, though, UGA and Auburn took turns beating up on the good guys. In 1980 is was UGA 26-21; in 1981 it was Auburn 14-12; in 1982 it was UGA 44-0; in 1983 it was Auburn 28-21; in 1987-89 it was Auburn again 29-6, 16-0, and 10-7. Fortunately, we got our revenge in 1990 to the tune of 48-7.

Urban Meyer Fanfare

Urban Meyer is 4-2 in the eighth game of the year. At Bowling Green, he lost to Miami (Ohio) 24-21 in 2001 and beat Kent State 45-14 in 2002. At Utah, he lost to New Mexico 47-35 in 2003 and beat San Diego State 51-28 in 2004. At Florida, he’s defeated Georgia twice, 14-10 and 21-14.

Orange and Blue

Colors are very important in this game due to the split stands. It is always a cool atmosphere when half the stadium is orange and blue and the other half is red and teal. Teal? Yeah, you know, the color of the empty seats after Georgia fans have already started leaving early again.

Men of Florida

I’m going to say that the Men of Florida for this game need to be Kestahn Moore, Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson, and Brandon James. Those four guys need to step up and give the Gators a running game other than Tim Tebow. Tebow will still get his carries, but they need to be effective when called upon to lighten his load and get positive yardage. Georgia’s defense can be somewhat suspect at times, so a balanced and unpredictable attack will help Florida out tremendously.

Chimes/Alma Mater

The tradition of having this game in Jacksonville goes back many, many years. Long before I or my parents were even around. It is a unique atmosphere to have a regular season rivalry game at a neutral site, and only three such games exist – Florida/Georgia, Oklahoma/Texas in Dallas, and Army/Navy in Baltimore. If you have never been, it’s something you need to see at some point.

It’s a shame more schools don’t do it, because of what a tremendous weekend it is. FSU and Miami fans show up every year because of how great the experience is. It’s something every school should do, even if temporary, because it makes the game a lot more fun. I wouldn’t want to do a neutral site for every game, of course, but once a year it makes for an incredible weekend.

Boys March

The Gators had better be marching up and down the field on offense tomorrow. Georgia has almost nothing left at tailback besides Knowshown Moreno thanks to injuries, so that means the passing game will be important. As in consistent as Matt Stafford has been in the deep passing game, he is very good at the intermediate passing game and that’s precisely what the Florida secondary gives up willingly in its frustrating soft zone scheme. I expect to see a lot of blitzing from Florida to try to make Stafford throw it before he has a chance to get comfortable and find his intermediate routes.

Gators Spell Out

G: Georgia Fans

There are precious few things funnier in this life than Georgia fans on Florida-Georgia weekend. Before the game, you can see the young men in their atrocious red polyester pants and dated moptop haircuts and the older fans barking at anything orange and/or blue and saying things like “Hunker down Daaaaawgs!!” which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a cheer. After the game – after yet another loss – they can’t make eye contact with anything orange and/or blue and have even been known to ask in a taunting voice “Why didn’t you beat us by more?” Priceless, I tell you.

A: Andre Caldwell

I know I’ve used him before in this spot, but his reemergence last week was a huge even for the offense. When he’s fully healthy, it’s like having another Percy Harvin on the field. He was a revelation in Lexington. It’s hard to stop either Andre or Percy, but having them both borders on unfair. If he can stay healthy the rest of the year, Florida will be in excellent shape on offense.

T: Tim Tebow

This is his chance to shine. After Matt Ryan lucked out last night by getting to play against the worst prevent defense ever seen, Tebow needs to answer in a big way to preserve his lead in the Heisman race. Florida is the featured 3:30 CBS game, and people naturally watch this game because it’s Florida-Georgia and everyone likes the wide shots of the split stands and all that stuff. It’s time to lay a historic smackdown to put Ryan in his place, and also because it’s Georgia, and they deserve it for being Georgia and having 50+ year old people barking at children in the parking lot.

O: Offensive Coordinators

Florida fans have been up and down on Dan Mullen throughout this season, and Mike Bobo has been very hit or miss with his play calling in this his first full season of calling plays. Bobo is one of the few Bulldog quarterbacks not yet over the hill who has known what it’s like to beat Florida as he did the trick in his senior season in 1997. Mullen has yet to lose to UGA in two tries, and his game against Kentucky showed a lot more diversity in play calling; he’s definitely more comfortable with Caldwell out there. No doubt that whichever team loses, its offensive coordinator will be second-guessed for weeks.

R: Running Backs

Georgia has one good one left (Moreno), and there’s talk that Mark Richt might burn the redshirt off the back of prized freshman Caleb King since he’ll be dressing out for the first time this season. Florida has only one medium-sized or larger back (Moore) and behind him are three small speed backs (James, Chevon Walker, Chris Rainey). If any of these guys can get something going it will be a big coup for his team so it won’t have to rely on only passing/QB rushes the whole game.

S: Stafford, Matt

Which Matt Stafford will show up? The one who lit up Oklahoma State, or the one who couldn’t move the ball on Tennessee’s awful defense? Florida has been reasonably good at stopping the run this year, so Georgia’s big chance to move the ball is housed in Stafford’s unusually large right arm.

Suwannee

It is actually the St. Mary’s River that separates the two states participating in the contest tomorrow. It’s brackish, tea-colored water is something I know well since I have an aunt and uncle who have a house close to it. That house is where I will be staying this weekend, as with most Florida-Georgia weekends. So, after around noon today when I leave to head up there with my family I will be without Internet and even cell phone signal for much of the weekend. Nothing further will be posted until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.

Tunnels

Florida has the obvious advantage among the offenses, but Georgia’s defense is much better statistically. Statistically good defenses haven’t prevented Florida from being in every game this year, and Georgia has yet to face an offense quite like Florida’s. Florida’s defense has been suspect at best for most of the year, but as long as Georgia doesn’t run quick slants all game then the D should be fine. It will probably end up close, as Meyer’s first two UGA games have been, but I will be surprised if Florida loses. Georgia just doesn’t have the talent that Florida does.

Yes, I really will be without Internet all weekend. If you leave  a comment, it won’t show up until Sunday because I manually approve all comments since too much spam makes it past the filter. Don’t let that stop you from leaving a comment though. Stay safe, and Go Gators!

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