Dogs face two opponents: Gators and Jacksonville hang-up

georgia floridaWhen it comes to what John Jenkins has dubbed the “Cocktail Bowl,” it’s not just the likely return of John Brantley or the speed of Chris Rainey that the Dogs have to worry about.

It’s this mental hang-up that’s apparently developed in the players’ heads about the Gators tending to win this thing even when they’re not the better team. As Aron White noted this week, “People get a little tight during Florida week.”

Actually, on that front the most encouraging thing I’ve heard this week is all the talk from Florida players and coaches (even the ones who just arrived) about Georgia’s end zone dance … four years ago. Sounds like a team in need of motivation, which is never a good thing for one of the participants in this annual grudge match. (Hence fans’ dismay at Mark Richt’s “fake juice” attempt with the black helmets and pants a couple of years ago.)

Georgia should win this year against a Gators team that’s lost three in a row. But the Jacksonville factor can’t be ignored. On paper, Georgia should have won last year against a Gators team that had lost three in a row, and yet just look at how overamped Aaron Murray came out in that game.

Still, it’s not any perceived Jacksonville jinx that worries me the most. It’s that Georgia has yet to play a complete game this season and continues to have red zone problems. The special teams meltdowns don’t help, either.

The mobility of John Brantley will be a big factor in the game. (Associated Press)

The mobility of John Brantley will be a big factor in the game. (Associated Press)

As for the Florida QB situation, I don’t think the uncertainty over who the Dogs will face is any big deal. Todd Grantham’s defense may have to play whack-a-mole with Florida’s three quarterbacks plus Trey Burton in the wildcat, but they’ve known that all along. As Richt said this week, “We’re preparing for their offense not the quarterback.”

If Brantley is in, the Dogs will have to think more about the passing game, whereas if it’s one of the true freshmen, they’ll likely load the box to stop Rainey and Jeff Demps. And no matter who’s in the game, Cornelius Washington and company will be trying to apply as much pressure as possible. That’s where Brantley’s mobility coming back from an ankle injury could come into play.

But the Dogs have to be concerned about Rainey and Demps’ speed, especially if they get to the outside. The Gators no doubt will be throwing to the backs to try to get them the ball with some space to run. The Dogs also have to control Burton, who gashed them for 110 yards and two touchdowns last year running out of the wildcat.

On defense for Georgia, it won’t help that Kwame Geathers and Shawn Williams have to sit out the first half, but getting Washington and Alec Ogletree back is a big plus.

Assuming Brantley isn’t hobbled, the two teams are fairly closely matched, so mistakes will probably be a big key. Georgia gave away a game against South Carolina that way, but Florida hasn’t forced any turnovers in the past three games, muffed four punts and turned the ball over three times last week and leads the SEC in penalties, so if the Dogs can manage to hold on to the ball and avoid late hits and such, the Gators might self-destruct.

Keeping Isaiah Crowell in the game is a key for the Dogs. (Associated Press)

Keeping Isaiah Crowell in the game is a key for the Dogs. (Associated Press)

This will be the best defense Georgia has faced since the first two games of the season, but the Gators have had trouble stopping the run lately so keeping Isaiah Crowell on the field should be a major objective for the Dogs. And if Crowell is successful early on, that’ll open up the play-action for Murray and his receivers (even without Malcolm Mitchell) against a young Florida secondary that hasn’t been tested much this year (because opponents have been able to move on the ground).

Both teams have had some shaky special teams play, but while Blair Walsh has missed quite a few field goal attempts this season, the Gators’ Caleb Sturgis has made 15 of 16. So let’s hope it doesn’t come down to a kicking duel.

Bottom line: If Georgia avoids turnovers, gets pressure on the quarterback (whoever it is) and does a decent job against the Gators’ running game, the Dogs should come out the victor.

But it’s Jacksonville. So the biggest thing Georgia needs to do is win its own mind game.

Feel free to share your own views of this year’s Georgia-Florida showdown and the Jacksonville jinx.

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187 comments Add your comment

KingDawg

October 28th, 2011
10:37 am

DAWGS are going to win !!!

KingDawg

October 28th, 2011
10:39 am

I want Jiggy Smaha in at NG in the 1st half !!!!!

KingDawg

October 28th, 2011
10:40 am

Bill – is it just you and I here today ????

Pulpwud Smiff

October 28th, 2011
10:42 am

It’s kind of sad to see all the Dawg fans getting so excited this year (just like the year before, the year before that, etc.). How long is it going to take for UGA fans to realize that UGA is simply no longer relevant in the SEC? In the national picture, UGA isn’t even a blip on the radar, and hasn’t been since the preseason #1 ranking several years ago.

Sit back and be grateful for the six or seven wins you’ll get every year. Coaching genius Mark Richt may take you to 8-4 or even 9-3 occasionally, but other schools will still win the SEC, meaning no BCS bowls and no top 10 final ranking. Most years, UGA will be very lucky to finish in the top 50, and only after a big bowl win over a nobody opponent.

It’s a different world now, and Dawg fans need to adjust their expectations downward to reflect reality.

Unfortunately nothing is going to change until UGA changes its mediocre coaching. That’s where the difference is, and that’s why everyone outside Dawgtard Nation just laughs at Dawg fans getting so excited year after year about what a great recruiting class UGA gets. It doesn’t matter how many blue chip high school players go to UGA, they simply don’t get the coaching they would get at Florida or Alabama, to name two schools whose programs are far ahead of UGA. And that’s not going to change as long as Mark Richt is in Athens.

Get your heads out of the sand and face reality. And mediocrity and irrelevance. 

KingDawg

October 28th, 2011
10:49 am

@Pulpwud – I have been a fan since 66 and 75 graduate of UGA. Always look forward to the season and have eternal optimism that the DAWGS will have a great season each year. When they don’t – it does suck but I will always be a supporter and fan.
Anything in life you look forward to ? Have a great day !!

JB

October 28th, 2011
10:50 am

Is a gimpy, new coach, Gator team in transition better than a frisky Vandy team, who almost beat us with 10 seconds to play? That is the question.

Joey

October 28th, 2011
10:50 am

If Murray doesn’t protect the ball better than he usually does in big games, and if Walsh is still missing, we will be in trouble, no matter who UF’s QB is.

Buckhead Dawg

October 28th, 2011
10:52 am

If Dawgs can’t win last year or this year the CEO has got to go.

JB

October 28th, 2011
10:53 am

Record of Georgia’s win streak opponents the last 6 weeks. 1-15. Yikes.

JB

October 28th, 2011
10:56 am

The Gators are set up on a tee for Richt this year. If not this year, then when?

Fridawg

October 28th, 2011
10:56 am

Can’t wait to get down there! Go Dawgs!

JAWJeRDAWG

October 28th, 2011
10:56 am

Just stay focused and play smart and up-to-your potential, mistake-free and personal-foul free football, and Georgia will beat the Gators!

Hope you will play this way tomorrow!

Do this, and we will all be very happy Dawg fans. ..

Go Dawgs!

bill

October 28th, 2011
10:57 am

Enough of this breaking down the teams…just win the game, CMR, or be gone! We’ve heard how the Dawgs are going to win this game EVERY YEAR, and 2-8 doesn’t cut it.

Dave

October 28th, 2011
10:58 am

I don’t have a good feeling about this weekend. It’s Florida, it’s Jacksonville, we are supposed to win, they are supposed to lose. It doesn’t matter who we have at HC, OC or DC, we just seem to fold up and either get crushed or give the game away.

Why must we always lose to Florida….even when we wind up winning the SECC (2005, for example). 2007 seems like it was just a dream and never really happened…*sigh

Greenville Dawg

October 28th, 2011
10:58 am

@Pulpwud Smiff – That’s some good pot stiring. Funny stuff.

As for the game, I think the Gators play lights out and we make too many mistakes. Could be I have seen to many losses and I’m letting that cloud my judgment. But until I see us win two in a row in the series, I’m always picking the Gators.

TampaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:00 am

@Pulpwud, you WISH UGA wasn’t still relevant. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in the BCS after beating teams that aren’t among the elite. Get over yourself tech fan.

DAWG with two bags over head

October 28th, 2011
11:00 am

I hope today’s words from McGarity to Richt are: “Don’t come back without a win!”

ARdawg

October 28th, 2011
11:02 am

JB

Did you look at FL opponents win streak?

ARdawg

October 28th, 2011
11:03 am

BTW Bill King

Good analysis.

JAWJeRDAWG

October 28th, 2011
11:10 am

JB

I may be wrong, but barring significant star player injuries on either team, the win / loss records of neither GA nor FL going into the game has seemed to have much impact on the play in this game.

Hopefully this is OUR year!

Go Dawgs! and Beat the Gators!

Bigdsel5556

October 28th, 2011
11:16 am

We shall see. I’m hope cornelius makes himself well known tomorrow. And IC. Runs a muck. Go dawgs!!!

Mad Dog One

October 28th, 2011
11:16 am

Filters eating post today last try. If the Dogs can stay loose in this one we have a good chance to come home with a win. I belive the fire is there this year. CTG has the D ready & cMB can call agood game if he dosen’t panic or try to sit on a 3 point lead. Peddle to the mettle for 4 quarters. As always GO DOGS & GATA

UGA Alumnus

October 28th, 2011
11:19 am

sprouse27

October 28th, 2011
11:21 am

*laughing* Dawg with 2 bags over head: That’s hilarious. If winning means we keep CMR, do we really win?

Macclenny_dawg

October 28th, 2011
11:21 am

We should win this game!!! But 2 weeks for Florida to prepare and 2 weeks for our coaches to prepare and I like Florida”s chances!!! I just have lost all our confidence in coach Richt. Too many times he just seems like he is not involved in any aspect of the game. I still think of his comment he made a couple of weeks ago on the call in show on Monday night!!! The caller asked why we go to the spread when we get inside the red zone and he stated “I haven’t noticed that I”ll have to go back and look at the tape.” Folks this is Monday 2 days after the game and you haven”t looked at the tape??? As much as I hate Florida and love my Dawgs if we lose it might be a good thing. Coach Richt would be guranteed the door!!! 2-11 record against arch rival will not cut it!!! So the 1st time in in my life, I really don’t care if we lose to the Gaytors!!! I am just tired of winning on talent alone. I would like to see us win the games every once in a while we shouldn”t!!! Bulldawg born and Bulldawg bred and when I die I will be Bulldawg dead!!!

AltamahaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:24 am

UF was preseason top 10. Previous 2 recruiting classes were tops in the nation. UGA was nobodies top anything and then got worse when the season started. We “should” have won last year? Based on what? That being UF’s surprisingly worst team in a while? Against our what?

This series has had extremely few true upsets, probably less than most other rivalries. Unfortunetely, I agree that when the team are pretty even, when the score is predictably close, we have not won our fair share.

M-E-R-C-E-R DAWG

October 28th, 2011
11:24 am

Dawgs will put a pot knot on there head big enough to have it’s own birth certificate!

M-E-R-C-E-R DAWG

October 28th, 2011
11:25 am

Better yet, Dawgs will put a pot knot on there head big enough to have it’s own drivers license!

JAWJeRDAWG

October 28th, 2011
11:26 am

AltamahaDawg

I know you are a fair and balanced poster. Just curious:

Do you feel this is our year?

M-E-R-C-E-R DAWG

October 28th, 2011
11:28 am

Dawgs will mop the floor with em and then whoop em’ again for leavin’ a waxy orange build up!

GT Joe

October 28th, 2011
11:31 am

Dawgs win HUGE. 45-0.

d-dog

October 28th, 2011
11:31 am

I have read so much material this week i’v decided noboby knows what to expect Saturday
10-29-2011 at J’ville. fla. I sure don’t know it all. With that said and that aside. I do believe the dogs will win. The gators want to win so bad to keep the streak alive, I just don’t see it happening. WE all DAWGS & GATORS can wish the results. I know this for sure……The game will not be played using lip service. It will be played out on the football field.

TampaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:32 am

@Macclenny_dawg
First, 2007, we weren’t supposed to beat UF, we did. 2004, we weren’t supposed to be able to go into Auburn and win, we did. 2006, we weren’t supposed to beat #5 Auburn in Auburn but again, we did.

This whole wanting to lose just to get rid of CMR is disasterous thinking. I would rather see the ship righted with the same guy for pure continuity purposes than risk starting over afte 11 years. The Gators had a down year with Meyer, now they have Muschamp (I realize a little different situation with Meyer leaving on his own) and they look LOST to say the least. Yes, you can end up landing a Saban type in the end, but how many coaches did Bama go through before they were able to land Nicky?

TampaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:33 am

GT Joe

October 28th, 2011
11:31 am
Dawgs win HUGE. 45-0.
——————
Good Lord I think I am applauding GT Joe,

Go Jackets, beat Clemson.

AltamahaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:36 am

Now Mcclenny, you can’t honestly believe that Coach Richt didn’t know exactly what we ran that night in details that caller could not even imagine, and wasn’t just being polite about not discussing playcalling strategy in public.

Dr. Morpheus

October 28th, 2011
11:38 am

This edition of the Cocktail series is the biggest in a very long time. It’s not just the 3-18 streak UF is on. It’s not just CMR needing to show he can beat UF more than 20% of the time. The SEC East is in flux, with Tennessee and Florida being down, South Carolina moving to become a power, and Georgia trying to stay afloat and assert it’s place at the top. Someone is going to emerge as a legitimate contender with the Wicked Witches of the West and a win this year would be a huge stepping stone. We don’t want to give Muschamp any room to build a beach head- we need to drive him back into the Atlantic Ocean. Sic ‘em, Dawgs, no mercy!

War Dang Dawg

October 28th, 2011
11:39 am

A little overdramatic Pulpwood. Georgia may not beAlabama, but then again no one else in the conference is either. But two championships in the last 10 years isn’t exactly irrelevant. Just ask the teams that didn’t win the championship in ‘02 and ‘05, I’m sure they would have loved to trade places with UGA. And Georgia was probably the best team in the country at the end of the ‘07 season.

The coaching has gone downhill in recent years, and it’s hard to explain. But a program with the talent of UGA is just one good coaching hire from being on top. Richt is barely hanging on, but the rest of this year is his chance to show that he can still be that man. If not him, then someone else will seize the opportunity. Eventually.

Bama in Atlanta

October 28th, 2011
11:40 am

I think the biggest coaching weakness UGA has is the inability to make on-the-field adjustments and then some halftime adjustments. I’m sure Richt has been preparing the D for UF’s offense as he stated but if UF comes out in their version of the Wildcat, goes no-huddle, etc. then it could be a problem. Otherwise, I think the UGA D can handle UF’s offense even with Brantley at the helm.

Hopelessly Devoted

October 28th, 2011
11:41 am

I agree TampaDawg. We have 11 years invested in Coach Richt and he’s bound to turn the corner any day now. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

AltamahaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:42 am

JAWje, I do.

Hairy Perry

October 28th, 2011
11:44 am

Pulpwood,

I guess UGA football is pretty important to you, to come on here and type a FREAKIN’ FULL PAGE REPORT! ……………………………….FREAKIN’ NAT.

Richt`s Hammer

October 28th, 2011
11:47 am

We are going to lose big. Florida is bringing the hammer. Choakdawg will be foaming out of the mouth by halftime.

Woe is us. Where is my lipstick?

Hairy Perry

October 28th, 2011
11:47 am

Watch out for all the “Gator” fans a.k.a NATS on this blog for the next 2 days.

Dr. Morpheus

October 28th, 2011
11:48 am

(Tried to post a longer version of this comment earlier, so it may show up later). Reasons this is huge beyond the obvious ones: The SEC East is down and someone, either UF, UT, SC or UGA, is going to step up to assume dominance and contend with the bad boys in the West. UGA needs to win big to prevent Muschamp from getting established as a contender and show the recruits who they need to sign up with. Go Dawgs, GATA!

Hairy Perry

October 28th, 2011
11:51 am

Macclenny_dawg

October 28th, 2011
11:52 am

@ TampaDawg
2007 we should have been favored!!! Tebow was hurt!!! 2004 and 2006 a long time ago!!! Anyway 3 wins we weren’t supposed to win in over 10 years??? Wow that is getting our $$ out of our coaches!!!
@ AltamahaDawg
Regardless if he knew what we ran or didn’t run after 3 days he should have reviewed the tape!!! He should have started reviewing the tape on Sunday afternoon @ the latest!!! By the way that was just 1 comment over the last couple of years he seemed to say he would have to go back and look at the tape!!! Prepared teams and coaches review tape right away!!!

ARdawg

October 28th, 2011
11:54 am

War Dang Dawg

Just my humble opinion but, I sincerely feel that if Richt blows this one he is likely history. He could probably lose to Tech (highly unlikely) and AU and remain even if we win this one. I’m guessing the Florida game is the defining game for his position.

UGA Insider

October 28th, 2011
11:56 am

Weiss is going to use Burton a ton in this game. He thinks he can abuse us like the Vandy qb did. Brantley will NOT be a factor at all. UGA really struggles against running qb’s so I’m a little nervous. I am also nervous about not scoring in the red zone.

Hairy Perry

October 28th, 2011
11:56 am

I remember being at the game in 97 when Robert Edwards made us THUNDER DOGS!

TampaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:57 am

Macclenny_dawg

October 28th, 2011
11:52 am
@ TampaDawg
2007 we should have been favored!!! Tebow was hurt!!! 2004 and 2006 a long time ago!!! Anyway 3 wins we weren’t supposed to win in over 10 years??? Wow that is getting our $$ out of our coaches!!!

——————-
They are called examples Mac. I am not Thomas Brown on here so I am not investing hours researching every game in 11 years to see which ones we should have lost but didn’t .. just a few prime examples against some good teams.

And yes, Tebow was hurt but he was playing in 2007. A hurt Tebow though was better than 95% of the QBs in college football .. EVER. And you will never see a team favored if the starting QB is still playing and they are ranked #9 while playing the #20 team in the nation.