Florida Gators vs Georgia Bulldogs
Date: Saturday October 29th
Time: 3:30 PM
Last Meeting: Last year Florida beat Georgia 27-3
Last Time Out:
- Florida beat Missouri 40-14
- Georgia lost at home to Vanderbilt 17-16
Georgia Bulldogs Breakdown:
- Head Coach: Kirby Smart (4-3 in 1st year at Georgia)
- Conference: SEC East
- 2016 Overall Record: 4-3
- 2016 Conference Record: 2-3
Players to Watch:
- Junior Running Back Nick Chubb
Chubb is the focal point for the Georgia offense. He has been limited somewhat this season due to injury but has rushed for 586 yards and 5 TD’s this season. In this only meeting against Florida he ran 21 times for 156 yards and a touchdown.
- Freshman Quarterback Jacob Eason
Jacob Eason was a highly recruited quarterback that considered the Gators before eventually choosing to stick with his commitment to Georgia. He has thrown for 1,366 yards and 9 touchdowns in his freshman campaign.
5 Things to know about Georgia:
- Georgia’s offense is scoring 25.1 PPG which is 12th in the SEC. Unfortunately, they are surrendering 26 PPG on defense.
- Georgia has struggled in Red Zone Defense with only one stop in 22 trips, which is 14th in the SEC.
- The last time an unranked Bulldog team beat a ranked Gator squad was when Georgia topped 20th-ranked Florida 17-10 in 1989.
- Jacob Eason threw for a career-high 346 yards (27-of-40) and a touchdown in the loss to Vanderbilt. He has also led the Bulldogs to a comeback win on the road at Missouri.
- The Bulldogs stand third in the SEC (17th nationally) in Rushing Defense, allowing 111.1 yards per game.
5 Things to Pay Attention to:
- Carries for Nick Chubb
Since totaling 52 carries in his first two games. Chubb has 64 carries in his last 5 appearances. He hasn’t had over 20 carries in a game since the second game of the year. Coming off of a bye week, he will be rested and ready to roll. The Bulldogs will need a vintage Nick Chubb day to win as well as keep the pressure off of the young Eason.
- Luke Del Rio knee
In his first game back it was clear the injured knee of Luke Del Rio was causing him issues. With a week off to get some more rest and rehab Del Rio should be more comfortable. This is not a game where he can afford to make the mistakes he did against Missouri. Hopefully the rust has worn off and he will get back to being efficient and keeping the Florida offense moving.
- McElwain breaking tendencies
In February 2008 both Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart were announced as offensive and defensive coordinator at Alabama. They both were a part of 2 national titles during their tenure there and chances are they know each other’s tendencies pretty well. It will be interesting to see what new wrinkles McElwain adds and how much differently he calls the game with a familiar foe across the field.
- Florida health
The Gators were able to get through a couple games without any major consequences as a result of missing players. This week they will return Joey Ivie and possibly Jordan Sherit. Jarrad Davis will be a game-time decision and Luke Del Rio has had another week to get the knee comfortable and ready for game time. The ‘second bye week’ came at a perfect time for the Gators as they enter the prove it stage of the season.
- Georgia Youth Movement
Kirby Smart has inherited a young roster in his first year, led by true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. Through seven games the Bulldogs have played 18 freshmen. Last year Georgia led the nation by playing 22 true freshmen.
5 Things to Expect:
- A better Luke Del Rio
In his first game back Luke Del Rio didn’t have his best outing, regardless of the reason why, expect a better performance on Saturday. With a week off to rest and prepare as well as what should be favorable weather, Del Rio should put together a solid performance against a Georgia defense ranked 13th in SEC in pass efficiency defense.
- Florida’s DB’s to win the 1 on 1’s on the outside
Georgia has struggled to find consistency on the outside at receiver. Going against the Florida DB’s will not help that cause. Isaiah McKenzie is the leading receiver with two 100 yard performances this year. Georgia will have to find ways to get emerging freshman TE Issac Nauta the ball, because getting the ball on the outside will be a chore the entire game.
- A lot of Chubb and Michel
With Florida’s advantage on the outside defensively expect the Dawgs to feed their feature backs a bunch. Both backs are more than capable of taking this game over and giving Florida headaches. Georgia OC Jim Chaney has growing confidence in Eason, but that confidence will be challenged against the Florida secondary. Their best bet may be gassing up the Chubb bus and see how far they can ride it.
- A confident but fragile minded Georgia
This year Georgia has shown the ability to rise to the occasion, fold in adversity and completely brain fart in critical situations. It is hard to judge where this team is mentally but expect the ‘Dawgs to come out strong and confident. They will need a strong start if they want to win. Coming off of a disappointing loss to Vanderbilt, they will be out to prove they are better than what they have put on film thus far. If things start to go wrong, will Georgia be able to fight through the adversity?
- More Tyrie Cleveland
For the first time this season Cleveland has been listed as a starter on the depth chart. I expect the Gators to get him the ball more often as he continues to prove himself as a deep threat opposite Antonio Callaway. Cleveland could be the missing cog needed to getting this offense back to being one of the best in the SEC.
5 Keys to Victory:
- Finish Drives
Florida has been up and down when it has gotten into the red zone. In 25 red zone attempts the Gators have managed 18 scores and 14 touchdowns. They currently rank 122nd in the nation in red zone offense. If Florida can close out drives with touchdowns, it will put tons of pressure on the Georgia offense that will have a hard time scoring against the Florida defense.
- Continue the run game domination
In the past two meetings the Gators have run for a ridiculous 676 yards against Georgia. If Florida can continue that domination in the run game the Gators will make it three straight. Georgia’s rush defense ranks 3rd in the SEC and will present a challenge to the Florida running back game. In the games where Del Rio has played the Gators average 223 YPG. In the two he has missed that number drops to 99 YPG.
- Stop the Bulldogs run game
If there was ever a game the Bulldogs need to run the ball effectively this is it. As the game progresses we should expect Georgia to lean more and more on Chubb and Michel. If the Gators run defense can stone wall the ‘Dawgs rushing attack, it will take some special plays to move the ball and score with any consistency.
- Find Isaiah McKenzie
Georgia has utilized McKenzie all over the field. He leads the team in receptions with 30, he has 15 carries and is also the lead punt returner. McKenzie provides some flavor to the otherwise traditional Georgia offense. He will be all over the field on Saturday and expect Georgia to try and get him in some favorable matchups to create big plays against the Florida defense. If he gets loose he can cause issues for the Gators.
- Don’t beat yourself
Florida is playing better than Georgia right now and hold advantages in most areas of the game. Georgia has two ways to win this game, obviously having a special day from the running game and Florida giving the game away. Georgia is currently +5 in turnover margin and could use a few take away’s to pull off the upset. A clean game from Florida in the turnover and penalty column will go a long way to winning.
5 Signs It Was a Good Day:
- Rushing yards at 200+
This series has been owned by the team that has been able to run the ball. Georgia is 3rd in the SEC in rush defense, but the Gators balance and fresh backs will give them a chance to run effectively. If the Gators are near or above 200 yards running the ball they will walk away with their 3rd straight over the Bulldogs.
- Return game can get going.
A couple weeks ago I predicted the return game would make a big play, well, it happened in an unconventional type of way on the Callaway touchdown. Lamical Perine did have a strong 41-yard return as well. Hopefully the Gators can get the return game going that has had trouble finding traction this year.
- Antonio Callaway has a few big plays
In his last two outings Callaway has 6 catches for 64 yards. With a week off it will be good to see this offense give a few more touches and opportunities to make big plays. Callaway has a tendency of showing up in a big way in big games and Saturday he will get more opportunities to do so.
- Georgia rushing yards at 150 or less
Georgia has shown signs of a dominating rushing attack this year and at other times it has been pedestrian. The Florida rush defense has been flat out nasty and a few weeks ago against Missouri has skewed their dominating performance thus far. With a few players returning up front the Gators will have a chance to make life hard for Chubb and Co.
- Defense consistently wins 1st and 2nd down
This game will come down to how productive Georgia can be on 1st and 2nd Jacob Eason this year is completing 41% of his passes on 3rd downs of seven of more yards to go. He also has 3 interceptions in such situations. The Gators thrive on 3rd and long and it will be a long day if Georgia can’t get some easy yards on 1st and 2nd down.
Florida has won 20 of the last 26 meetings versus the Bulldogs and are 17-6 coming off of a bye week. The Bulldogs have enough talent to upset the Gators and with a few Florida mistakes on top of an inspired effort from Florida and this could get interesting. Expect Georgia to start strong and do their best to get this game into the 4th quarter. Georgia has had a disappointing season thus far and will look to right the ship heading into November. As for the Gators they are coming off of a bye week where they got healthier on both sides of the ball and that will not be good news for the Bulldogs.
In a game sure to be choppy at first, the Gators will eventually settle in behind the defense and win this game in the 4th quarter. Jacob Eason will have moments that show why he was so highly touted and will have moments that will show why playing QB as a freshman in the SEC isn’t always easy. The Florida defense will clamp down in the second half and force a few turnovers that will turn out to be the difference. Luke Del Rio will have a better showing than he did against Missouri and the Gator running game will take over against a tired Georgia defense in the 4th quarter.
Florida 30 Georgia 17