Friday, October 28, 2005

Georgia-Florida musings

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.


Kyle King said...

I hate to quibble with such a fine posting, but I must take issue with the claim "that [the Bulldogs] have a wretched history against the Gators."

The Bulldogs have a wretched recent history against the Gators, but, historically, the Red and Black have dominated the Orange and Blue.

The more accurate statement is that the 'Dawgs have a wretched history against Steve Spurrier. Excluding the three Georgia-Florida games in which Spurrier was a player and the 12 Georgia-Florida games in which Spurrier was a head coach, the Bulldogs' all-time record against Florida is 43-23-2.

Or, if you prefer, try looking at it this way instead: heading into the 1990 football season, Georgia owned all-time ledgers of 44-22-2 (.662) against Florida and 33-15-2 (.680) against Vanderbilt.

In other words, before the Evil Genius began flinging his visor on the sidelines in the Swamp, the Red and Black had a winning percentage against Florida only marginally worse than their winning percentage against Vanderbilt.

Michael said...

OK, I should have included the term "since 1990" in there. And it wasn't limited to Spurrier, since UGA was 1-2 against Ron Zook.

Buddy said...

Where do you see this conventional wisdom that UGA will prevail- here in Atlanta. The oddsmakers appear to be saying that UF is not only going to win, but almost by a touchdown. Apparently, half the conventional wisdom is UF big.

Watch UGA play-action early with max protect. I think UF run blitzes a lot early as well- Feast or famine may for the Gators. They seem desperate.

Michael said...

I took that mainly from everyone I was listening to on sports talk radio, all of whom seemed fairly confident. Tony Barnhart and Chuck Oliver, for instance, both of whom are bright football analysts who don't get carried away with local hype, were very convinced that Georgia was going to win. Contrasting that bravado with the spread worried me and rightfully so, as it turned out.