For the Gators to beat Georgia Saturday in Jacksonville, they have to stop the Bulldogs running game. To be sure, Aaron Murray has played very well and will probably meet the expectations he set coming out of Plant High School. But in Georgia's three game winning streak the Dawgs have run the ball efficiently and effectively.
Brandon Spikes' good friend Washaun Ealey has rushed for more than 100 yards in the past two games, averaging more than six yards per carry. The sophomore has carried much of the load, as Caleb King was suspended for the last two games. Georgia will play King, as the Gators will play Chris Rainey, but King should be expected to have a larger impact with a shorter layoff than the Gators' back. Ealey was injured in Georgia's win over Kentucky, which will also lead to King's increased role.
In five games this season, Murray has thrown for more than 200 yards. That's not bad when you realize he had standout WR A.J. Green for only two of those games. Murray has 12 touchdowns and three interceptions, and is averaging 15 yards per completion. Murray is more of a pro-style quarterback, but he can move. He has four rushing touchdowns this season. If the Gators defense can build a pass rush, expect Murray to get chunks of yards with his legs like Greg McElroy has done the last two seasons.
The closest anyone came to locking down A.J. Green was Vanderbilt. But they did that by getting their butts kicked and UGA running the ball in a blow out. In the three other games he has played, Green is averaging six catches for 100 yards. Florida has locked up star wide receivers recently like Julio Jones and Mardy Gilyard. But it can come at the risk of opening up the secondary targets. Florida is lucky in that sense because UGA does not have much depth in the receiving game.
Defensively, Georgia is lucky in that the Gators have two left feet. They cannot attack, execute or block. In addition, they are still slowed by injuries. The Gators' most dynamic player, Andre Debose, still has a bad ankle. Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee are considered healthy, which means Steve Addazio yelling "dive" like sailors on a submarine. Georgia has the best rushing defense in the SEC and 12th nationally; they allow 99.3 yards per game. The Gators simply cannot run on Georgia. They have to throw. Why? Georgia is allowing 207 yards passing, 57th nationally. That isn't terrible, but that is a huge gap between how the Dawgs are against the run versus the pass.
Florida has to first protect John Brantley. If they can do that, then they can target Carl Moore and Omarius Hines. Deonte Thompson is nothing more than a fast kid and Rainey cannot be asked to get five to seven touches immediately.