Greetings from the Land of Jorts! Well the game that we all have been looking forward to for 360 days is finally upon us. Two years ago I said that this Cocktail Party would be the most anticipated game in the last 20 years of the series and it looks like that prediction was right on the money. I can’t remember any other time heading into this game that Dawg and Gator fans were more excited about their respective squads. Both teams are playing their best football of the year and I see that trend continuing for the rest of the year. I really believe the winner of this game will go onto beat Alabama in the SECCG. Bama has looked like ass, ever since the first half of the Georgia game and both the Dawgs and Gators have most of their tough SEC games out of the way. This one should be for all the marbles.
The entire point of me writing this was to bring a differing opinion about the game to the site. With that being said, it would be pointless for me to base that opinion on my love for the Gators and not on the facts because I’m sure everyone here cares the same way about the Pups. So let’s keep all of the “Knowshon is the best RB in the history of football” and “Tebow could cure cancer” homerisms out of the way and look at the facts. We’ve can save all of the trash talking for the Landing or the Touchdown Lot before kickoff on Saturday!
The 2007 Game
Before the game last year, I don’t think the Dawgs knew how good they were and Florida didn’t realize how many holes they had on defense. Georgia was ready to fire every position coach they had after the beatdown in Knoxville a few weeks prior and were in desperate need of the off week before last years’ showdown. Florida had just won a shootout against then 8th ranked Kentucky after losing in their last possession the previous two games against LSWho and Auburn. Georgia had to kick a last second field goal to beat SEC East powerhouse Vanderbilt in their last game before J'ville. But then Mark Richt went and pulled the biggest second half turnaround this state had seen since the Braves in 1991.
Stafford had been up and down the entire year, pretty much single handedly losing the South Carolina game. Pup fans were ready for him to cash in on his all world potential and start playing like we all knew that he could. And that is just what he did. Stafford made a number of big throws in the game exploited a weak Gator secondary. This was also the game that Knowshon Moreno used to establish himself as a household name in the SEC. He went for 185 on 33 carries and I honestly don’t think the Gators could have slowed him down if they played with 12 men on defense. The rest of the Dawgs fed off of his energy and the offense turned into the juggernaut that the Pup fans knew it could be. Percy Harvin did all that he could do to match the production Georgia was getting from Moreno. Unfortunately for Gator fans, Percy couldn’t play on the O line. Marcus Howard sacked Tebow like seventeen times and Superman really never got on track. Georgia punched the defending National Champs directly in the mouth and we never really did anything to regain the momentum. With that being said, let’s talk a little more about that “momentum”…………….
So You Think You Can Dance?
I may be one of the only Gator fans at last years’ game that really didn’t think that the Pups pre-orchestrated dance party was that big of a deal. I actually thought it was pretty awesome! It provided the shot of adrenaline that the Dawgs’ needed. It helped make the statement that “we are tired of being Floridas bitch.” But the fact of the matter I don’t think it was as big of a deal as people made it out to be. Florida scored on its next possession and led for a good part of the first half. Georgia won because Florida couldn’t tackle Knowshon Moreno, not because of Trinton Sturdivant’s sweet ass dance moves. I don’t think that the Gators will retaliate in any way this year. That’s not really Urban’s style. But even if they do, I don’t think it will really affect the game. Football is about blocking and tackling, not who has the better celebratory dance.
Again, the whole reason that I am writing this is to give all of you with Red and Black glasses on another perspective on next Saturday’s game. Do I think Florida is going to win? Of course! I wouldn’t be wasting time writing this b.s. if I didn’t! But, I’m not one of those homers that think my team is going to win every game just because they show up. I predicted our Ole Miss loss the morning before it happened and I am much harder on my own team than I am on others. I’m pretty realistic and I try not to get caught up in all of the emotion surrounding these games every week and just stick to the facts. But unfortunately that isn’t always what the SEC is about.
College football is as much about momentum and not overlooking your opponent as it is about 40 times and statistics. In rivalry games, anything can happen. And, I think this is going to be one of those once every 15 to 20 years games, much like the Lindsay Scott game or Spurrier’s first game back in the monsoon-like 1991 battle. Just like all big games between two heavyweights, it will probably come down to who can avoid giving up the big plays and special teams. Let’s take a look at each position for each team.
Unit by Unit Analysis
Let me start off by saying Stafford has looked really good so far this year. He is finally starting to cash in on some of his John Elway like potential. He has been able to avoid the big mistakes that plagued him throughout his first few years and has developed into a team leader. The emergence of AJ Green certainly hasn’t hurt either! Stafford has the best “arm” in the country and is capable of making all the throws and plays his team needs him to. He leads the league in Passing Yards per game and will have a big day against the Gators.
Tim Tebow has not been himself this year. Some of that is his fault and some of it is Urban Meyer/Dan Mullen’s fault. He has a lot more weapons at his disposal this year and doesn’t have to carry as much of the load as he did last year. He is next to last in the SEC in attempts in 2008 so his numbers are obviously nowhere near his Heisman trophy winning campaign in 2007. But, Tebow has been able to manage the offense very well and only has 2 interceptions on the year. He has begun to run the ball more the past few games which has added another element back to the offense. I expect the much of the same from Tebow this week. All that Florida needs from Tebow is for him to play like he always does, solid.
Knowshown Moreno is the best back in the SEC. Much like Tebow, the Dawgs always know what you’re going to get out of him. Michael Smith had a field day against the Gator D a few weeks ago when he ran for 130 yards or so, and I think Knowshon will do the same. With a healthy Sutherland now leading the way, look for Slowshon to run for 100 +yds.
The Gators have a three headed monster at running back this year. Depending on whether or not Emmanuel Moody is back 100% from a high ankle sprain will determine how many carries each of the backs will get, but I suspect that he will still be gimped up. That leaves Jeff Demps (the fastest player in college football) and Chris Rainey to share the workload. Both backs are capable of taking it to the house if they get past the first level of the defense and for little guys actually run very tough between the tackles. The Gators will get plenty of yards, but you can’t pick against the best back in the conference.
If it was legal to just skip college and go straight to the NFL, then I think AJ Green would have never made it to Georgia. Absolute stud. Mo Mass is solid, but not spectacular and after that it kind of drops off for the Pups. Kenneth Harris and Michael Moore are decent, but I don’t see them making much of an impact in a game this big. If AJ can’t get his catches, the Dawgs will sputter in the passing game.
Florida has the horses, but again, they have the second fewest attempts in the SEC, so there aren’t that many balls to go around. Percy Harvin is still the best receiver in the league, sorry AJ. Louis Murphy and Carl Moore have been steady this year, but both are due for a breakout game very soon. A team strength for the Gators is that they seldom drop balls. Tebow, unlike Stafford, throws an extremely catchable ball and doesn’t have to worry about drops. This is why I give the slight edge to the Gators at this position.
Yes, I know that Georgia has had 39 different offensive lineman get hurt so far this year. Who cares!? They have still been solid across the board. Three sophomore and two freshman, and they are playing like veterans. Stafford has only been sacked 9 times all year and Knowshon has obviously gotten his yards. When you recruit like the Dawgs and Gators do, you can afford to suffer a few injuries.
Up until three games ago, Florida’s offensive line was piss poor. With the emergence of RS Sophomore Carl Johnson, they have finally gotten it together and the offense has begun to click as a result. UF has also started to use wider splits, which has allowed their running backs more room to operate in space. UF has given up 10 sacks to UGA’s 9, but I really don’t see either line being much of a liability or advantage in this game. Because of the inexperience of UGA, I give the slight edge to Florida.
Brian Mimbs and Chas Henry are the two best punters in the SEC. Henry is an ex high school QB and has been perfect on fake punts throughout his career. Urban loves fake punts in big games so look for something to happen here. Florida has the best punt block team in the country, and I did notice yesterday that Mimbs stands too close to the line of scrimmage when punting so watch out for a punt block, Dawg fans. They do have the exact same average so this one has to be a draw.
To have the #1 rush defense in the SEC, you don’t hear much about UGA’s defensive line. Corvey Irvin is solid but I really don’t see anyone on the Georgia roster that impresses me. But the results speak for themselves. If you lead the SEC in rush defense, you are doing something right.
The exact same thing goes for Florida. Lawrence Marsh is the best of the bunch, but this group underachieves. Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap were talked about a lot in the preseason but neither one have gotten a sack since Nam. If there is one area FOR BOTH TEAMS that will hold them back from winning the conference, it is the Defensive line. Due to the fact that the Dawgs have the top run defense and Florida is third I give them the edge.
Rennie Curran is the type of guy that everyone would want on their defense. He is fun to watch play. Ellerbee is obviously a great player too. I’m hearing he is supposed to be back on the field next week? Daryl Gamble has been great in his absence. This is a team strength for the Dawgs. Fast and hard hitting linebackers are always a given for Georgia.
Brandon Spikes is the best linebacker in the SEC (Rolando McClain a close second). He is slower than dirt but he is always around the ball making plays. Dustin Doe, A.J. Jones, and Ryan Stamper are all solid but not spectacular. This is also a team strength for the Gators. Since Ellerbee is coming off of an injury, I give a very slight edge to UF.
This part of Georgia’s team confuses me. When you look at each player, they are all terrific, but after the game when you see how many passing yards they gave up, it tells a different story. UGA gives up the second most passing yards of any team in the SEC, which is a cause for concern against Tebow and company. Rashad Jones is very good, but much like Major Wright for the Gators, he goes for the big hit too much instead of making plays on the ball. Asher Allen is a good player, but after that it gets kind of dicey for the Pups.
Florida starts three true sophomores and one true freshman in the secondary, and what was considered a team weakness at the beginning of the year has now become a huge strength. With that being said, we haven’t faced a QB like Stafford so far this year, so it is tough to tell what will happen. Florida is first in the league in Pass Efficiency Defense so you have to go with the Gators.
ATTENTION ALL DAWG FANS……LAY OFF BLAIR WALSH!!!!! He is a freaking true freshman! You’ve been very spoiled the past 8 years with Bennett and Coutu but this kid may be the best of the bunch. Big leg for a little guy.
Jonathan Phillips is 9 for 9 this year, but only a few of those have come from more than 40 yards. Urban really doesn’t believe in field goals.
Yeah right. I’m not going to touch this one. That would be like wearing a white hood around Hollywood Road in Atlanta. I’d just be looking for a fight! Both coaches are the best in the business.
BY THE NUMBERS: Something HAS to give!!!!
UF rushing offense: 2nd in the SEC
UGA rushing defense: 1st in the SEC
UF Passing Defense: 1st in the SEC
UGA Passing Offense: 1st in the SEC
UF Scoring Defense: 1st in the SEC
UGA Scoring Offense: 2nd in the SEC
Matt Stafford: 2nd in the SEC in Pass Efficiency
Tim Tebow: 1st in the SEC in Pass Efficiency
Knowshon Moreno: 2nd in the SEC in rushing
Jeff Demps: 1st in the SEC in average yards/rush
AJ Green: 1st in the SEC in Receiving Yards/game
Percy Harvin: 1st in the SEC in Receiving TD’s
KEYS TO VICTORY
I could obviously go on for hours about different stats, strengths, weaknesses, blah, blah, blah but I really think that the game will come down to four key factors.
• Red Zone Success
Florida is first in the SEC in Red Zone Offense and second in Red Zone Defense. When Georgia has had trouble scoring this year, it is because they are settling for field goals instead of TD’s. If this turns into the Blair Walsh show, then the Pups will be in trouble, because the Gators count by 7’s.
• Punt Teams
Florida has the best punt block team in the country. It has been well documented that when Urban Meyer coached teams win 90+% of the time when they block a kick. As I mentioned earlier, Mimbs stands very close to the line of scrimmage sometimes on punts and could be an easy target for the Gator special teams. Also Brandon James hasn’t returned a punt for a touchdown in a few games so he is due. The punting game could be a HUGE turning point for both teams.
• Penalties, Penalties, Penalties
We are just as bad as you when it comes to penalties. Most talented teams have the same issue. I will take an aggressive, talented, highly penalized team every day of the week! But if one of the teams is able to avoid the yellow hanky on Saturday it could prove to be a huge advantage.
• AJ Green
He is one of those type of guys that could single handedly make enough plays to beat a team. If he gets deep on our 5’10” DB’s it could be strike up the band time. If it happens more than once, it could be start up the bus time, for the Gators.
I appreciate everyone that took time out of their busy day to read this junk. Although, much like myself, I think that you should reassess your goals and get a damn girlfriend. But, back to the game. The truth is I have no freaking idea what is going to happen Saturday. It is Florida Georgia for crying out loud. Ron Zook beat you guys twice when you had a team that was eight times better than we were. Last year, we beat Tennessee by 40, they beat you by 25, and then you kicked our ass up and down the field. This is the SEC. Anything can happen on any given week.
However, there are a few certain things that I can guarantee go down on Saturday:
1. There will be a number of Florida fans that will sport Blue Jean shorts to the game and honestly see nothing wrong with it (God bless them and their ridiculous taste in clothing).
2. The Dawg fans will put four times as much effort and energy into planning their tailgate and picking out their outfit, than they will thinking about the actual game.
3. I will drink too much beer and end up making an idiot out of myself before passing out in someone's kitchen.
All kidding aside, I would like to thank Coach Mark Richt for making THIS A RIVALRY again. To be completely honest, I never really held any disdain for the Pups until last year, because we only lost to them twice since I even knew what football was. But now let’s just say all of us Gator fans know why our elders hate all things Dawg.
I think that it is going to be an awesome game. Definitely should be a high scoring contest. Both offenses are way too good to not put up a lot of points. I think that Florida has the advantage on special teams and that something big is going to happen that will push us over the top.
FINAL SCORE: FLORIDA 38 DAWGS 31
For everyone going down to the game be careful and don’t do anything TOO stupid. For all of you watching at home, the referees cannot hear you, and I promise that both Offensive Coordinators know a lot more about football than you do so get off of their back. Enjoy the game and Go Gators!
P.S. Dawgs lick balls!
Until next time kids.