Another great win, another rung up the ladder back to being elite, and another glorious beat down of the Georgia Bulldogs. Living up here in Georgia, winning this game is sheer delight. It means 365 days of near silence from obnoxious Bulldog fans. Every few minutes I walk outside just to enjoy the sound of crickets.
The 27-3 final score is a little misleading though. This game was a struggle for quite some time and the Florida Gators offense sputtered horribly at times. This was not Treon Harris’ best game by any means. It wasn’t a horrible game. Any time a quarterback has at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions that is a good thing. Completing less than half of your passes is not good and, to be honest, a few of those completions were really great catches of poorly thrown balls. Treon’s accuracy was a little off in this game. What is alarming is that we have seen that before. That said, Treon avoided major mistakes and made a couple of key plays to give the Gators an opportunity to score points. In my opinion, Treon is simply not a quarterback that is going to carry a team against a quality opponent. With this Gator team, he doesn’t have to.
However, for weeks I have been bemoaning the lack of a consistent running game. Florida averaged a horrendous 1.8 yards per carry against LSU and paid the price. Saturday the Gators ran efficiently averaging a very respectable 5.4 yards per carry. Kelvin Taylor would probably love to play Georgia every week. He had a monster game in Jacksonville last season and another 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns in this game. The young man obviously knows how to endear himself to the Gator Nation. If the Florida Gators running game becomes efficient week in and week out, Treon Harris will not need to drive the offense. He will only need to avoid mistakes and make a play here and there because the defense is for real.
The Gator defense all but smothered the Georgia offense. The Bulldogs managed of couple of sustained drives but the Florida defense slammed the door shut in the red zone. This defense is dominant. Dominant defenses keep teams in games and shut down prolific offenses in big games. It was obvious by halftime that Georgia would only get back in the game if Florida made mistakes. The Bulldog offense was already flustered. So were the Georgia players. And for that matter, so were the Georgia coaches. It was a delight to witness.
This game was the last piece in the October gauntlet. That brutal stretch of football that the Gator Nation had stared at with trepidation for months is over and Florida escaped nearly unscathed. Yes, there was the loss to LSU, but it would appear that loss did not change the Gator’s prospects in the slightest. Perched at number 10 in the playoff poll, Florida is in fine position for any goal the team might have in mind. If, and I realize that it is a big if, the Gators win out they will almost certainly find themselves among the four playoff teams. I know that even the mention of that makes some fans uncomfortable, like commenting that a pitcher hasn’t given up a single hit and it’s the seventh inning. But, the bottom line is that the regular season is two-thirds over and Florida still pretty much controls its own destiny in the national title hunt. Anyone willing to lie and say they expected this to be the case go ahead and raise your hand now. You were at Woodstock too weren’t you?
Of course, the only important game right now is Vanderbilt. Beat Vandy and Florida is officially the SEC East Champion. Win Saturday and the only thing standing between them and a 10-1 record going into the FSU game is a struggling South Carolina team and the usual 11th game warmup. I know, I know, I remember Georgia Southern but as Stevo likes to say, the grownups are in charge now. I don’t see this team struggling with Florida Atlantic. As hard as it is to fathom, 10-1 is not just realistic, it is probable. Then it’s a home game against an FSU team that lost to Georgia Tech and a potentially huge matchup in the SEC Championship Game. For those fans who think talk of winning in Atlanta is foolishness I counter that with this defense, any game is winnable. I watched this team give LSU all they wanted in their yard at night. I firmly believe that the Gators can compete with ANYONE on at a neutral site.
While there are certainly things that could wrong and derail all of this promise (like injuries) isn’t it wonderful just to be able to have this conversation in November? Every week the hiring of Jim McElwain looks even better. So I will leave you with this advice. Don’t waste time and happiness waiting for the next bad thing to happen. There will be plenty of time to let misfortune ruin your day when and if it ever actually occurs. Right now you are in the middle of what is known as “The Good Times”. Enjoy them. That’s what they are for.