Florida is vulnerable. But can Georgia do anything about it?

Florida is still No. 1 but the reality is that the Gators are bringing a very vulnerable football team to Jacksonville on Saturday to play Georgia.

The offense, which was unstoppable a year ago, is simply not playing well. There is no question that the Gators miss offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, now the head coach at Mississippi State. But more than that Florida misses the ability to stretch the field vertically as they did a year ago with Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. Nobody is scared that these guys are going to go deep anymore.

 Tim Tebow is starting to press a little and is trying to do too much. He was sacked six times against Arkansas, a game in which Florida turned it over four times. Tebow threw two pick-sixes against Mississippi State, which meant the Gators had to work way too hard to win 29-19 in Starkville (You may insert your officiating reference here).

 The defense is beat up and tired because it’s been on the field too much. Linebacker Brandon Spikes (groin) and several other defensive starters who sat out last week, however, may be back.

 Urban Meyer is taking the temperature of his team to make sure that guys don’t start pointing fingers. If I’m a Florida defensive player, I’m wondering why my offense is suddenly missing in action and is starting to give away points.

 The bottom line is that Florida has all kind of issues. They have a perfect 7-0 record but are playing less than perfectly. They look like a football team that is trying to tread water until Dec. 5 and the SEC championship game, when they expect to turn it up a notch. That’s a dangerous place to be, mentally and physically, in this league.

 But for the life of me I’m just not sure that Georgia can do anything to take advantage of it.

 Sure, Georgia has had a week off since beating Vanderbilt. But what is Georgia actually going to do on the field that would give them a chance to win this football game?

 Georgia has gone down to Jacksonville many times with the lesser talented football team. But all through the history of this rivalry the Bulldogs have found a way to win because players stepped it up and, in some cases, played the best game of their lives.

In 1966 Florida and quarterback Steve Spurrier were favored to win their first-ever SEC championship. Spurrier was on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. But a pair of defensive All-Americans, Bill Stanfill and George Patton, got after Spurrier in the second half and Georgia won, 27-10.

 In 1975 Florida was supposed to finally win the SEC championship with one of their more talented teams ever. But Erk Russell’s first “Junkyard Dawg” defense would not let the Gators score a touchdown. They kept it close so that tight end Richard Appleby could throw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Gene Washington and stun the Gators 10-7.

 In 1985 Georgia upset No. 1 Florida in Jacksonville because Tim Worley and Keith Henderson just ran the ball right through the Gators and defensive end Greg “Muddy” Waters had a career day rushing Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell and Georgia won 24-3.

 In 1997 Mike Bobo played one of his best games as a Georgia quarterback. Robert Edwards and Hines Ward were magnificent. Jim Donnan called his best game as Georgia’s head coach and the Bulldogs dominated the No. 6 Gators 37-17.

 In 2007 Knowshon Moreno ran for 188 yards, a career high, and Matt Stafford threw three touchdown passes. Florida was vulnerable that day because Tebow had a bad shoulder. Georgia rolled up 413 yards and beat No. 9 Florida 42-30.

 But as you look at this Georgia team, you wonder: Who can step up and do something exceptional?  Can somebody on this team have a career-defining moment and at least put Georgia in a position to win?

 I think QB Joe Cox is that kind of guy. I know A.J. Green is. Linebacker Rennie Curran is a warrior. But look at the numbers and tell me how Georgia wins this game:

 103rd in rushing (108 yards per game)

 84th in scoring defense (27.7 ppg)

 119th in turnover margin (minus-11)

 117th in penalties (9.29 per game)

 90th in passing defense (238.29 ypg)

 70th in total defense (365.57 ypg)

 95th in time of possession (28:28)

 The response to that question should be that the numbers don’t matter. It only matters how these two teams play for 60 minutes in Jacksonville. In the past some flawed Georgia teams have found a way to put it together and have a magical afternoon against Florida. But what about this team?

 I’m not here to beat up on a Georgia team that has clearly had its struggles since a 3-1 start. All I know is that I was down on the field for the last five minutes of the Tennessee-Alabama game last Saturday and I saw two football teams playing their guts out to win a huge rivalry game. I saw some great players make some great plays with the game on the line.

 At Bryant-Denny Stadium I saw the kind of effort Georgia is going to have to give to have any kind of shot in Jacksonville. I just wonder: Does this Georgia team have that kind of effort in them?

 Please follow me on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/MrCFB

340 comments Add your comment

D

October 28th, 2009
8:52 am

I just haven’t seen anything from the Bulldogs that makes me think they can beat the Gators.

Me and You and a Dawg Named Belue

October 28th, 2009
8:52 am

Since there still seems to be confusion about this, here’s the difference between what UGA did in ’07 and UF did in ’08. In ’07, Mark Richt told his players that he would punish them if they did not get an excessive celebration penalty after the first touchdown. UGA had played with zero emotion prior to that day in Jax. He said later he intended only the players on the field to get the penalty. I think any person would argue that it was reasonable for a coach to assume that your players would understand that and to assume the whole team would not run on the field. After it happened, Richt apologized to both Meyer and the conference for what happened. Now, we can assume Richt is lying or we can assume he is telling the truth. If he is lying, it’s probably the first time since he’s been at UGA that he told a darn fib.
What Meyer did was far more sinister. He waited until the end of the game and then called timeouts himself. He PURPOSELY set out to embarrass the other team and their coach(es). The year before, the Gators had the entire game to respond to the perceived slight. In ’08, the head coach acted at the end of the game with the obvious intent of sending a message.
We need to be honest about what happened. If Meyer wanted to respond to what UGA did, his team did it in spades last year. There was no need to rub Georgia’s noses in it. As Urban’s wife was heard yelling after the game last year, “What goes around, comes around!” All I can say is, I sincerely hope you are right, Mrs. Meyer.

m

October 28th, 2009
8:55 am

If ugag would quit crying and start playing…they could win this game. floriduh is mainly hype this year. But ugag is whipped before they take the field because they are a bunch of crybabies.

It is a shame that Tech is not playing this game because Tech could make the state of Georgia proud by smacking this overrated floriduh team.

Tech is playing their second sec team this week after already defeating missy st worse than floriduh did. Of course the sec is so weak this year that it is no wonder that Tech has scheduled 3 sec games as their patsy games this year.

The sec is the weakest I have ever seen it in my lifetime. If we had a 16 team playoff, the sec would be exposed big time.

Thank God and Greyhound that chan gomer gailey is gone forever. You dawgs are really going to miss him.

im4bama

October 28th, 2009
8:56 am

The answer is NO.

GBO

October 28th, 2009
8:59 am

Tony, good article. I don’t see it happening though.

JM

October 28th, 2009
8:59 am

Tony, you’re right about the offensive struggles, but the defense is anything, but vulnerable. They are as healthy as they have been all year and were already the best defense in the country (with the 3rd qt against Arkansas being the exception). I am not sure if Florida will score 20 points, but it won’t matter because I don’t see UGA scoring 14.

By the way, if Florida is so bad, why can’t anyone beat them?

m fan

October 28th, 2009
9:01 am

Such incredible insight from m.

She always has new information and in depth analysis.

What a brilliant football mind!

Ohio State fan

October 28th, 2009
9:02 am

Tony, I respect just about everything you write except when it’s in reference to Georgia – you are as blind as a mole when the Dawgs are your topic.

No chance. None. Nada. Zippo.

Florida will win easily.

Dawg Fans

October 28th, 2009
9:02 am

Do they have any casinos in Shreveport?

gatoringa

October 28th, 2009
9:03 am

Me and you,
You overlook the fact that that your coach told his players to intentionally break the rules, while the timeouts are a perfectly legal aspect of the game. Cot sure which is worse…

m fan # 2

October 28th, 2009
9:03 am

m is an idiot

gdawginkalamazoo

October 28th, 2009
9:04 am

Don’t know Tony but I hope they put on a good show Saturday. Why not? they haven’t put together all three phases of the game in 60 minutes yet. Hell I don’t think they have put together two. Barely one per game. Of course I love my dawgs and will be cheering for them Saturday.

m

October 28th, 2009
9:05 am

Georgia should schedule Duke, Maryland, and Virginia next year and beat their chest about how they own the ACC.

jumbeauxtiger

October 28th, 2009
9:07 am

Who would have thought in the preseason that the Dawgs, if they lose on Saturday, would be 4-4 at this point? I for one thought UGa would go 10-2.

I just don’t see them beating the Gators.

There is no doubt that CMR needs to make wholesale changes on his staff in the offseason. If he doesn’t then 2010 very well could be his last season.

No matter what anyone says it comes down to dollars. At big time schools such as Georgia football carries nearly all of the other sports programs. If you start losing interest drops which has a major effect on the bottom line. Schools such as UGa with large athletic budgets can not and will not allow that to happen.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

JM

October 28th, 2009
9:10 am

gdawginkalamazoo, I agree with your thoughts on UGA not playing a complete game yet. However, the problem for UGA is neither has UF.

Me and You and a Dawg Named Belue

October 28th, 2009
9:11 am

gatoringa,
Just because it’s “legal” does not make it okay. There is such a thing as “class” (or the lack thereof).

collegeballfan

October 28th, 2009
9:12 am

Yes UGA can & will win this game. Run the ball enough to keep the UF front seven on defense in a run state of mind. Use the passing game for the big plays. Play calling will need to be real patient with the running game. It is no sin to punt the ball. That has always been one of UGA’s problems, no patience with the offense.

Vince's Dooley and Wally's big ole Butt

October 28th, 2009
9:12 am

Why Does Florida deem it necessary to schedule 3 games with Troy, Charleston Southern and then FIU? When Ohio State does that, they slip up and lose to one of the big boys or in the title game because it softens up their players and does exact opposite of what a team needs to be doing week in and week out, hit and fight hard on every play. Not a UGA fan but cannot applaud a team with these 3 opponents on their schedule and call them the number 1 team in the nation. If UGA cannot beat them, SC in Columbia just might.

BankerDawg

October 28th, 2009
9:13 am

Belue- we have discussed this topic ad nauseum on blog after blog after blog….

Both coaches were wrong and the moves were childish and immature.

Let’s get past it.

Regarding the game, anything can happen, I suppose, but unless something magical occurs (as Tony alluded to above) I just don’t see how we even come close.

The Gators have looked beatable, to be certain, but they haven’t been beaten. Undefeated and #1 in the country…..miles away from where we are right now.

It may be closer than the pundits think simply because of Florida’s offensive woes, but I don’t see how we score more than 10 points unless they help us out quite a bit.

Regardless…I will be there as always!

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS! SIC ‘EM!

RedGrange

October 28th, 2009
9:14 am

Georgia getting revenge on Urban Meyer? Are you freaking kidding me? What a joke. I’m sure Urban plans on raking UGAg over the coals, again.

leland

October 28th, 2009
9:15 am

Dear Mr. CF–the triple spacing between paragraphs is a great idea. It increases the tension and suspence in the blog as we go through it because of the delay in navigating the added air intervening between one idea and the next. Creative as all get-out, you ax me.

You still need more work on your subjunctives.

Your pal, Leland

s_k_u_l_l_s

October 28th, 2009
9:15 am

Darkness falls across the land
From the ‘08 grave a vengeful hand
Blue and orange scream with fright
Tebow and Meyer go down Saturday night

gdawginkalamazoo

October 28th, 2009
9:16 am

Ohio State Fan, when it comes to playing Florida I guess you guys are the experts so we will take your word for it.

SEC fans

October 28th, 2009
9:16 am

Dennis Dodd has a poll on cbssportsline.com asking if the SEC is overrated. Stand up and be heard.

J Dub

October 28th, 2009
9:17 am

JM – “By the way, if Florida is so bad, why can’t anyone beat them?”

For the answer to this question, please refer to Tony’s previous blog. The Zebras…..

Florida number #1 NOT

October 28th, 2009
9:20 am

yes UGA should indeed shedule Maryland, Va and Duke on their schedules. Would love to see that. Probably only win one out of 3.Good idea

Dog Island Gator

October 28th, 2009
9:20 am

Vulnerable? The Gator’s are, and will play like champions. The fun part? Watching Tebow break Herschel’s record. That will put the final nail in 1980″s coffin.

78 DAWG

October 28th, 2009
9:23 am

Take advantage? We got a bunch of cry babies more worried about when Myer takes time outs than the fact the score is 49 – 10! Your butt is kicked all over Jville and you’re crying about the timeouts? If you don’t like it 1) play better 2) don’t run on the field as a team and act stupid.
SHUT UP and play hard, don’t lay down and quit and cry about what happens. Fire Richt and Martinez

Steve

October 28th, 2009
9:24 am

The Gators offense is doing the exact same thing they did back in 2006 and we all know what happened that year. Just a National Title. Expect the offense to click better this week.

TommyJack

October 28th, 2009
9:25 am

I pull for the dawgs once a year. This is it. Go you hairy pooches.

Eric

October 28th, 2009
9:25 am

I hate UF, but I rather see them win if for no other reason than to keep bama from taking the top spot. It’d be great to see the Dogs scare the hell out of them though. But please don’t hurt Tebown. I can’t take another week of wall to wall coverage of another one of his little boo boos.

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 28th, 2009
9:26 am

Thanks Tony for this in-depth look into the massacre that is going down this Saturday.

I wondered when it was coming, and surprised it took till today.

Get a clue, or change your freaking name, HOMER.

Shall I go ahead a write your column for next Monday?

Dawgs hang tough through questionable officiating. The dawgs were giving UF all they could handle till finally the Gators and the yellow flags took there toll…BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!!

Associated Press release

October 28th, 2009
9:27 am

This radio transmission was intercepted today in Pakistan where Lt. Colonel William Kurtz IV has made unauthorized entry into the country in order to kill OBL with extreme prejudice. He also happens to be a Dawg: ” we must kill them. We must incinerate them. Runningback after runningback. Wide reciever after wide reciever, quarterback after quarterback. We have to have men who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feelinf, without passion, without judgment. This is the moment for ruthless action and to see clearly what there is to be done and doing it directly, quickly awake, looking at it. If we had 22 man like these out troubles on Saturday will be over very quickly. Kill them all…with extreme prejudice. Those gators. I hate them. Oh, how I hate them….”

Recruits

October 28th, 2009
9:27 am

I hear Kiffin is going to fly into Jacksonville on a helicopter before the game.

volsngoblue

October 28th, 2009
9:27 am

Any given saturday….. thats all you need to point to. App St v michigan? Mt Cody saving an upset of similar proportions to the UGA-FL game?

don’t write them dawgs off. I hate both teams but UGA is hungry and lead by a real man while FL is clueless and led by a smug clown in Urban “i am god” meyer. this will be close

Dawg Fud

October 28th, 2009
9:28 am

i juts don’t see it happening Tony. Florida is more talented and better coached. Even if thei players did not execute, Charlie Strong and Meyer will come them up in the fourth quarter.

Florida thinks we are joke. We think Martinez is a joke. If you think the Dawgs will keep it within the 16.5 point spread then you are joking.

I love the Dawgs but Florida rolls us an wins by 24. We simply have not demonstrated that we can compete with the better teams. Saturday will be no different.

Dawg Fud

October 28th, 2009
9:29 am

that should “coach them up”…sorry about the typos

Vince Dooley

October 28th, 2009
9:29 am

We never worried that the game was 10 miles over the florida line or florida had a week off or florida plays a weak schedule. We lined up and kicked tail for 25 years. When did accept second place to florida?

Worst-call-in-30-years

October 28th, 2009
9:29 am

If UGA doesn’t win this game it because of the officials, Right Tony?

Chris

October 28th, 2009
9:32 am

Ohio State fan – does your opinion (or your team for that matter) carry any weight in this blog? No chance. None. Nada. Zippo.

Please go blog with your fellow Big 10′ers about your SLOW as molasses, non-athletic, embarrassment of a conference and leave the SEC talk to us big boy.

inveniojacket

October 28th, 2009
9:33 am

I will say one thing: This Yellow Jacket is hoping the Dawgs STOMP UF in the mud this year and expose them for what they really are…FRAUDS!

Freehawk

October 28th, 2009
9:35 am

Good analysis. We’ll see how it plays out.

Mark Richt is a hypocrit

October 28th, 2009
9:35 am

UGA fans are dumb trashy rednecks.Anybody ever been to a UGA football game and see how their fan base conduct themselves will agree.Timeouts are legal.DUH!

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 28th, 2009
9:36 am

inveniojacket, a true Jacket never pulls for UGAg.

Someone else will have to take down UF.

FalconUGAFan

October 28th, 2009
9:36 am

Quote from TB:
But for the life of me I’m just not sure that Georgia can do anything to take advantage of it.

How anyone can see this as homerism is beyond me. You guys just crack me up.

cattledawg

October 28th, 2009
9:37 am

Dawgs win Saturday! Tebow an Urban run away to a deserted isle together.

Porty

October 28th, 2009
9:37 am

Do you really expect us to believe that you think Joe Cox is that kind of guy? What on earth would give you that idea? His awesome display vs Tenn? Ok St? His outbursts (?) vs LSU? It’s time to give the homerism a rest, Mr. Georgia Football.

Ohio State fan

October 28th, 2009
9:39 am

Hey gdawginkalamazoo,

I guess we would know something about losing to Florida – we did lose one big game to them. But I’m pretty sure that Georgia – having lost 16 of the last 19 – would have a much better understanding.

No?

Jim Mora Jr.

October 28th, 2009
9:40 am

Bottom line is that the Dawgs can’t run the ball this year effectively enough, and Florida’s defense can stop it. That puts the ball in Joe Cox’s hands, and although AJ Green can make some plays, he can’t carry the entire load. On the flip side, Georgia’s defensive secondary is suspect, as is the pass rush. Trying to be optimistic about it, but Tebow will likely pick us apart unless something drastic happens Saturday. Note to Willie Martinez: manage to pull out a miracle effort from the defense this weekend (enough to win) and you MIGHT save your job. Still, I think an optimistic prediction for the Dawgs is to keep the game within 10 points. It’s just one of those seasons…

Andrew Zow

October 28th, 2009
9:42 am

Flordia has an old school SEC championship-type team. Their offense is all about possession, their defense is the best in the nation.

If UGA wins the turnover battle they have a chance. If UGA loses the ball, they’ll get destroyed