Georgia Florida Recap: As Expected, Georgia Wins
On Saturday I posted a few reactions immediately following the game, and yesterday morning some of my thoughts went up. Totday I’ll run through a standard game recap with the aspiration to avoid repetition, but if ever there is a game that bears repeating information it would have to be a win over the Florida Gators. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at Georgia football on a more macro level.
To begin with anything other than the effort put together by Todd Grantham and his defense would be misguided. On Friday I offered the following sentiment:
What I like about this game is the matchup of Georgia’s defense on Florida’s offense. You’re smoking whatever the Honey Badger gave you if you think Georgia has lived up to its potential on the defensive side of the ball this season. I think you’re equally high if you don’t expect an improvement over the last stretch of the season. And maybe I’m also stoned, but I think the change could in fact be a factor of culture more so than skill/capacity. And if that is the case, the change could come quickly and it could come tomorrow.
Both a blood test and the on-field result of Saturday would show that I was not stoned. Going into the game it was odd to me how few Georgia fans believed the Bulldogs even had a shot. The defense had been frustrating, but that frustration had been a result of its underperformance relative not only to its potential but relative to what we had all actually witnessed last season. It wasn’t a result of lack of capability. With so many leaders on the squad and a fiery guy like Grantham at the helm, how did we not expect the switch to get flipped at some point? Furthermore, with a rivalry game against a team like Florida and so much on the line why wouldn’t we at least hope that it would happen Saturday? Frankly, I don’t know those answers; but a lot of people saw no hope. I actually did.
The statistics of Saturday’s performance are staggering. Six turnovers. Several other balls lost but ultimately recovered by the Gators. But, the actual performance had far too much going on to rely merely on statistics. John Jenkins constant penetration can’t be measured by stats. Cornelius Washington’s solid effort in containment won’t show up on the stat sheet. The only statistic that really matters here was the fact that Florida never crossed the goal line for a touchdown. That’s my favorite figure.
I don’t know how bad Florida’s offense actually is, because the Georgia D obviously played a heck of a game. But I do know the Florida’s offense is not good. The turnovers could have happened to anyone as Georgia players were consistently in the right place at the right time (not chance encounters, mind you, prepared attacks), but the general lack of firepower was evident.
Before the season I expressed concern about Florida’s rise but felt the offense could hold them back, and to an extent that has been the case – even if it was only in this game. Friday I mentioned that I didn’t think Mike Gillislee was that good, and Georgia certainly contained him and said that Jeff Driskel was closer to a poor man’s Connor Shaw than a poor man’s Tebow, and that proved accurate as well.
Florida needs help on offense to get back to where they want to be, and I know they’ll get it over the coming seasons. And I hate that.
The defensive side of the ball is just fine for the Gators. The way they swarm for the tackle and react to tipped passes and other loose balls is very reminiscent of last year’s LSU squad – and that is scary. They forced Murray into the fourth worst QB rating of his career (behind only UCF in 2010, LSU in 2011 and South Carolina earlier this year), and managed to take generally reliable pass-catchers off their game and induce drops.
Ultimately, however, Georgia’s offense was able to do enough to win the game, and it would be a falsehood to even imply that Florida’s defense was the best Georgia has seen this year. On one particular Saturday in early October, South Carolina was much more disruptive and much more dominating.
On Friday I explained something to Florida Eric (who chimed in on the live-blog) as he was asserting that Georgia’s offense had not taken on any good defenses. I pointed out that Florida’s defense has been great this season, but the average ranking of the offenses they had taken on (in yards per game) was 70th in the nation. Furthermore, if you averaged up those seven teams and found their average yards per game that individual entity would rank 67th in the nation.
In that same way of measuring Georgia’s offense had seen previous success against defenses with an average ranking of 54th in the nation and a per-game number that would have ranked 55th. So, Georgia’s lofty offensive averages were actually against better defenses than the offenses Florida’s defense had been destroying…if that makes any sense.
This supported my assumption that if Georgia’s defense could do it’s part Georgia’s offense would find a way to win, and they certainly were able to do so – albeit not in a pretty way. Murray’s three interceptions were darn near crippling on three consecutive possessions as Florida began to get momentum. Similarly, the receivers did their best to derail the passing game in the second half.
But if you can commit half as many turnovers as your opposition, produce a 100-yard rusher (118 to be exact) and put together a 7 play 75-yard drive in crunch time then you’re going to win some football games in this rivalry.
Lastly, I believe Special Teams actually helped Georgia win this game. Georgia won the field positioning game (albeit by a measly 3 yards), pinned Florida inside the 20 twice on punts, held Andre Debose to a long kick return of just 26 yards and one lone punt return for one lone yard and above all else avoided shooting themselves in the foot with terrible kick coverage or returns. So, in that regard it was one of the best performances I’ve seen by Georgia’s Special Teams units. Sure Georgia would have loved to have had Marshall Morgan’s missed field goal, but if I could have one thing (that kick) or the other (kick coverage) I’d take the field position over that 3-pointer.
There’s not much left to say. On Friday I said, “The much-maligned Georgia defense can win this game for the Bulldogs.”
Turns out that very same defense did win this game for the Bulldogs. Now it’s time to win one more against Ole Miss.
That’s all I got/