Published October 28, 2010 - 10:30am
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Well, Georgia vs. Florida week is finally here. All year long, this game is circled on both team’s schedules. The game itself has become almost second fiddle to the tailgate atmosphere and RV city that springs up literally Sunday night the week before the game. Once known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” ; it is more apt to now call it the “World’s Largest Outdoor DUI checkpoint” after UGA and UF Presidents lobbied for a name change in 2006…….yeah, that’s it……Change the name…..no one will notice….Hey Bubba n’ Earl, pass me a cold one will ya!
The Okefenokee Oar is the trophy presented to the winning team in the annual Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic. The trophy was introduced for the 2009 contest, though the football rivalry between the University of Florida Gators and the University of Georgia Bulldogs dates to 1915.
The oar was crafted from a 1000-year-old cypress tree that once grew in the Okefenokee Swamp that straddles the Florida-Georgia border. The oar was donated anonymously by a group of students to the student bodies of the schools. Although the football rivalry had existed for more than ninety years, it is the first trophy introduced to commemorate the teams’ victories. The 2009 contest, won by Florida 41–17 was the first between the two teams for the trophy.
Victories By Both Teams
1928 1929 1937
1940 1949 1952
1953 1955 1956
1957 1958 1960
1961 1962 1963
1965 1967 1970
1973 1977 1984
1986 1990 1991
1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1998
1999 2000 2001
2002 2003 2005
2006 2008 2009
1915 1916 1919
1920 1926 1927
1931 1932 1933
1934 1935 1936
1938 1939 1941
1942 1944 1945
1946 1947 1948
1950 1951 1954
1959 1964 1966
1968 1971 1972
1974 1975 1976
1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983
1985 1987 1988
1989 1997 2004
I could bore you with stats and stuff, but you can read that anywhere. I will however hit the highlights.
Florida ranks #3 in the SEC and #14 in the Nation; although it is only through 7 games. Georgia ranks #4 and #19 in the nation through 8 games. They are pretty evenly matched considering UGA has faced four of the top seven Total Offenses in the SEC. Georgia does come in with the #1 ranked Rushing Defense in the SEC and 12th ranked in the country going against Florida’s 10th of 12 SEC teams Rushing Offense.
The Dawgs rank 8th in the SEC and 62nd in the country. The Gators rank #9 in the SEC and 89th in the country.
Turn Over Margin
Georgia is much, much improved this year, losing the ball 8 times and getting the ball 15. They rank 2nd in the SEC. Florida has gained the ball 16 times to losing it 14. Florida ranks 5th in the conference; again playing one less game than UGA.
Both teams excel in this department with Florida having the #1 rank in the Nation. Georgia is close behind at 2nd in the SEC and 6th in the country. Field position is always important in this game and both teams will look to flip the field or pin the other inside the twenty when they can.
Pass Efficiency Defense
This is a main area of concern for UGA. Florida is 2nd in the SEC and 11th in the country in this category. Georgia on the other is horrible at getting teams off the field on third down. They rank next to last in the SEC in this category. Getting 3-and-outs will be crucial to keep the Defenses fresh and kill the crowd early.
Ok, enough of the stats….let’s talk about the “real” issues surrounding this game.
Will Urban Meyer allow Chris “Time to Die, bitch” Rainey to play Saturday. The announcement will be made Thursday and I’d bet you a gazillion dollars, Rainey will suit up. There is NO WAY Urban is not going to roll out any weapon he can to avoid a four game losing streak. Urban has certainly not been known for his ethical standards when it comes to player discipline. Ronnie “AK-47” Wilson and Brandon “I’ll poke your eyes out” Spikes come to mind.
And before you howl, Mark Richt would do it to win. He might; and then again he might not. He suspended RB Caleb King two games for an UNPAID SPEEDING TICKET even when his main back up Washuan Ealey had a serious “drop the ball at the worst time” issue.
I can’t see “Saint Richt” as he has been called, facing the press on allowing a player who threatened to kill his girlfriend to play; just can’t see it.
Well you say, maybe Rainey has done his time and faced the punishment. He might have, so where’s the press report about how many steps he ran? How many times was he up at 5:00 am running sprint drills? Has he taken an Anger Management class? Where’s the proof? Truth is as even a former gator player remarked; Urban will do whatever it takes that he can get away with to win football games. He even called out Meyer and hoped he would just say, “Yep, I want to win at any cost. Deal with it.” At least then it would be out in the open and we could just think “Well, that’s Urban being Urban.”
Truth is any coach at this level is under tremendous pressure to win….period. It’s hard to say what the right answer is. Why are football players held to a higher standard? Should they be?
Breaking Down The Game
What Florida Must Do
If Florida gets back healthy the play makers of Debose, Demps, Rainey and Burton, UGA will be in for a long day. The Dawgs have had trouble all year accounting for smaller, mobile targets. All-Everything Kentucky player Randall Cobb ran roughshod over, through and around the Georgia defense last week in Lexington. A mobile Colorado QB converted many third downs with his feet and scrambling until receivers down field could get open.
Georgia’s Secondary just does not tackle very well. Once the Gator speedsters get around the edge, the Defensive Backs have shown little ability this year to corral anybody. Georgia must limit yards after contact and yards after catch to stay in this game. If they tackle like they did vs. South Carolina and Marcus Lattimore you can kiss this game goodbye.
I’d expect the Gators to try and get the ball to their best Offensive weapons in space with screens plays, delay draws and short yardage passes. Georgia is very good vs. the run and has a potent pass rush with LB Justin Houston tops in the SEC in sacks. Slowing the UGA pass rush is key for Florida to give Brantley time to sit in the pocket and pick apart a young suspect Secondary.
What Georgia Must Do
Georgia on the other hand must do what it does best, stay balanced. RB Caleb King will return for this game and will be hungry I’d bet to make up for lost playing time. He is a big back who can pound a Defensive line. RB Washuan Ealey is coming off a career game last week when he had 5 TD’s and 157 rushing yards. He sprained his MCL towards the end of that game and although he says he is playing Saturday, it remains to be seen how effective he can be. If he is ok to run, then UGA can rotate both backs with the smaller Carlton Thomas being the third RB and keep fresh legs in the game.
AJ Green has been spectacular since his return. Look for Florida to roll a safety over the top of AJ to help the corner back out. By doing that, the other Georgia receivers will be in man coverage to the other side.
WR Kris Durham is having a career year and his 6’5” height will come in handy vs. UF’s smaller corners. Flankers Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown are certainly capable of hurting the Gators if they concentrate on Green too much.
My greatest hope is that Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo will wake up to the fact he has four very talented Tight Ends. Orson Charles, Aaron White, Authur Lynch and Bruce Figgins would be starters at any other school in the country but so far, Bobo has seriously under used them. A short passing move-the-chains mentality would serve him well. Use play action to hold the LB’s and get a TE in one-on-one coverage with a line backer. UGA could score at will if they used their TE’s!!
Georgia’s much maligned Offensive line played probably their best game of the season last week. They will need another strong performance to give Redshirt Freshman QB Aaron Murray time to settle into the game. He has shown a level of maturity and decision making so far this year that has been very safe. He hasn’t tried force the ball into situations where he shouldn’t. Sound QB play is fundamental to UGA success.
UGA and Florida are meeting at a weird cross road. This is the first time in almost 30 years both teams have entered the game unranked. UGA has won their last three games; Florida has lost their last three games. Georgia’s Head Coach was on the “hot seat”; now UF’s Head Coach is getting warmer by the week.
Both teams need to win in order to stay alive in the wacky SEC Eastern Division race. If Florida wins, it allows them to continue to control their own destiny to get to Atlanta and will silence the gator growls coming from Gainesville. If UGA wins this game, then I will climb aboard the Bad Wagon Express and hope for an SEC title game. Outcome may rely on the fact that Florida wants to win this game; whereas Georgia needs to win this game.
I’d like to say I feel confident about a UGA win. I can’t however totally “drink the Cool-Aid” about Georgia’s resurgence this year. Once Mark Richt commented “I don’t even think we know how to beat these guys.” Not very awe inspiring Coach, thanks.
If Georgia can get the momentum early, they can avoid that “Here we go again” feeling and play fast and loose. If they get down early, I fear the GA seats will empty and the game may be over by half time. Most of the kids on the UGA team don’t know that UGA once dominated this series. They only know UGA can’t beat Florida consistently.
I’d like to think games like this are why these guys came to Georgia in the first place. If you can’t get up for this game, then you went to the wrong place son.
I live in Jacksonville, or as I call it “The largest city in South Georgia” and hate the attitude of younger Gator fans. The ones who don’t remember Coach Gallen Hall, the fourth and dumb play and “Run Lindsay Run.” Lost in that 1980 game was the fact then Freshman Herschel ran for 238 yards, the most rushing yards in the series history ever.…..and it still stands.
In closing I’d like to thank all the US Military around the World making it possible for us to enjoy an autumn day worshiping the “Boys of Fall.”