The annual cocktail party down in Jacksonville is upon us, and while it is always a big game it feels a little different this year, and the fan base seems a little uptight. Year in and year out, this game is crucial to both Georgia and Florida, and typically the winner goes on to Atlanta to play for the SEC Championship. My point here is that the stakes are always high in Jacksonville, but this week people are claiming it to be the biggest game of Kirby’s career. I can certainly understand why people believe this to be true. Heading into the season, a trip to Atlanta seemed to be a given for the Bulldogs, and Florida seemed to be more than a step or two behind Georgia’s program. Funny how two months can change everything or let’s be honest with each other, and admit it was just two games that the changed perceptions for Dawg fans and all the talking heads on TV.
“Fan” is short for fanatic, and fanatics aren’t known for their sound logic and reasonable opinions. I am big fan myself, and yes, I am guilty of wearing “bulldog lenses” from time to time. Nevertheless, today I am going to convey a practical yet optimistic view that I hope will quell your fears and enhance your excitement for Saturday. So, here are my thoughts on why Saturday night will be a good one for us Bulldogs.
1) Get Over the SCAR Game Folks! – There has been a bad hangover from this game, and you can still smell the alcohol from it weeks later. I was mad as fire when the game was lost, but not shocked that it could happen. We often forget these are kids and not a bunch of Tom Brady’s out there on the field. When you look at the stats of this game it seems impossible to think Georgia lost, but the four turnovers did too much damage. If they were to play 100 more times, I bet Georgia wins 97 of them. While you are at it, go ahead and get over the Kentucky game as well. I know the first half was bad, but they basically took the pass out of the game, played to win, and tried to avoid losing more players to injury. Winning twenty-one to zero over an SEC opponent is never something to be taken for granted. Too often college football can be a bit of a conundrum. For example, if South Carolina beats Georgia, and Tennessee then beats South Carolina that doesn’t result in Tennessee beating Georgia. The transitive property doesn’t work in college football. Having said that, don’t worry too much about that Michigan v Notre Dame either. If A equals B and B equals C, remember that A doesn’t exactly equal C when it comes to football.
2) Recovering from Injuries – We have had a lot of players banged up this season, and this off week comes at a great time like it does every year. It is just an ideal point in the season to give the players and coaches a small breather. Hopefully, we will see Kindley, Cager, Campbell, and Jordan Davis all playing at 100%. At the same time, I understand that Florida will be returning some players as well. But I like our chances against their pass rush if we have all the lineman ready to play on Saturday.
3) The Offensive Woes Are Exaggerated– Look I know how it has looked on the field at times. I am just as tired of runs up the middle and jet sweeps for 1-yard gains as you are, but when you look at the stats they are not much different than last year. In 2018, they averaged 7.1 yards per play and 37 points per game. To this point in 2019, they average 7 yards per play and 36 points a game, which includes the dismal South Carolina and Kentucky performances. I do think we need to add a wrinkle or two, and a few wheel routes and quick slants might help. I would also love to see James Cook get 5 or more touches this Saturday. However, without good blocking across the board no play is going to work too well.
4) Is Florida the Best One Loss Team in Football? – This is a big narrative right now and everyone is big on the Gators. But keep this in mind, they barely beat Miami, should have lost to Kentucky, and they probably should have lost to South Carolina as well. But you don’t hear the national media bringing up those games because at the end the day they did win. This team is better with Kyle Trask at quarterback, but they aren’t the best one loss team in football because that title belongs to the Georgia Bulldogs. Mullen has done a better job than I expected this year, however he could have very easily had three losses heading into this game.
5) Our Players and Our Coach – I know the last two games have you worried, and too many of you are calling for Coley to be replaced but you need to take a deep breath and calm down. Compare the coaches and their history for a minute, and you will see that Smart has performed well against Mullen’s offense over the years. These two know each other well and Kirby has probably had the better players in their past match ups, and that will still be the case come Saturday. Georgia’s defense doesn’t have a great pass rush right now, but they have a lot speed across the board. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see better defensive pressure Saturday than we have seen to this point. On the offensive side of things, you can count on Todd Grantham to be himself. He will aggressively blitz which at times will work, but it can ultimately be exploited by a smart quarterback who is able to read a defense. Last time I checked, Georgia has one of those smart quarterbacks wearing number 11.
I could always be wrong, and Georgia fans could be distraught come Saturday night, but I just got a feeling I might be right about this one. After all, I had a bad feeling before the SCAR game so maybe this good feeling is another omen. And just think how fun it would be to win down in Jacksonville with these Gators truly believing they are all the way back? Regardless, whatever happens Saturday I am all aboard this Bulldog Bandwagon and I suggest you stay on board too.