This has been a weird year for me. After watching Georgia's first two games, I haven't seen them play since, save for the Tennessee game, but my recollection of that is slightly fuzzy because I was: (1) drunk; (2) bothered by the fact that Michigan had just handed the Brown Jug over to Minnesota for the first time since Lou Holtz was their coach and I dressed in bright orange Auburn sweatshirts; and (3) watching a desperate female Vol fan hitting on a table of obviously gay male Vol fans. (Not that my gaydar is anything to brag about. When I was a summer associate, I asked the partner who was my mentor at the firm when we were going to do lunch at the Cheetah. Needless to say, this did not interest this partner in any way, other than to raise legitimate "maturity concerns.") I watched Florida against Kentucky, Alabama, and LSU, so my impression of them so far is that they can only beat the worst team in the conference. Needless to say, this won't stop me from acting all prophetic.
It worries me that the conventional wisdom seems to be that Georgia is going to win, despite the fact that they have a wretched history against the Gators and Florida is a five-point favorite. Everyone analyzing the game thinks that Florida is going to struggle mightily to move the ball and I can't say that I disagree. More than anything else, Florida's offense has been killed this year because their offensive line can't get Urban Meyer's zone blocking scheme. Georgia, like Tennessee, Alabama, and LSU, has the defensive line to completely disrupt Florida's offense and make Chris Leak break out the "I can't believe I'm thinking this, but I miss Ron Zook, now look into my beautiful eyes" face. It's hard to imagine Florida moving the ball in this game after their performances against Alabama and LSU, but they have had two weeks to prepare for the game and they have a funny way of playing a lot better when they see the Red and Black. Also, if they force turnovers by the bushel like they did in Baton Rouge (and that isn't inconceivable with Joe Tereshinski (hereinafter "JTIII"), then offense might not be a problem.
When Georgia has the ball, Florida is going to quickly disabuse them of the notion that they'll be able to run the ball and have JTIII do nothing more than manage the game. Moreover, the idea that Georgia's just going to run the ball and throw only when forced to is wrong. If I'm smart enough to figure out that JTIII is far more likely to be successful throwing on occasions other than third and long, then Mark Richt is smart enough to reach the same conclusion. He's not going into a Lloyd Carr death spiral, where he loses faith in his quarterback and then puts him in position to fail by allowing him to throw only on obvious passing downs. The question is simply whether JTIII will perform well enough that Florida has to back off the run a little, allowing Georgia's offense to function properly. Who the hell knows, but I will say that JTIII has been in this offense for a long time, he's very experienced, he was fairly heavily recruited in high school, and he's beaten out the highly-touted Blake Barnes to be the back-up, so he's probably not a bad option.
The more I write about this game, the more I reach two conclusions:
1. Georgia should win if both teams play to form.
2. Georgia and Florida rarely play to form when they meet in Jacksonville.
Confused yet? Me too.