Florida vs. Georgia, Opposition Research: "Gurshall," special teams, and more

Andy Lyons

Our friends at Dawg Sports are funny, even if they picked the absolute wrong college football team to cheer for.

VineyardDawg and I swapped questions yesterday about Florida-Georgia on Saturday. You can my answers to his questions at Dawg Sports.

1. Florida hasn't lost back-to-back games in this series since before I was born, not to mention most of the players on both teams. Revenge is most definitely a factor for the Gators this Saturday, in addition to the SEC East throne. Are Georgia fans worried about that?

To be honest, I think that's not really at the forefront of most Georgia fans' minds. Coming off a victory last year will do that for us... it's easy to forget about the "back-to-back win" thing. I think most fans are more preoccupied with "Damn, I hope we don't get pantsed again in Jacksonville because of stupid mistakes like half the damn games since 2000." (Yes, we've lost more than half the games since the talent level between our two teams started to equalize in 2000, but half of those games were lost because of stupid mistakes like a pick-six from the friggin' 20-yard line.)

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, and I think most Georgia fans like to think that, competitive issues aside between our teams, we cracked the door just a little bit open last year by winning a close game, in which the issue was truly in doubt until the last play, for the first time against Florida since 1989. It's no secret that half the game in Jax is mental (on both sides), and by ekeing out a close one last year, something we haven't done in more than twodecades, I think our fans have hope that the mental edge might be waning. For most Dawgs, it's not really about revenge. It's about turning a one-off occurrence into a trend.

2. Aaron Murray's probably the best thrower Florida's seen this year (Tyler Bray doesn't count), but he's got a lot less talent than he'shad in past years. How will Georgia attack Florida in the passing game?

I presume that by "a lot less talent," you mean in his target availability, since his personal talent didn't decline, really. (Ed.'s note: Yeah, that's what I meant.) And while there's no question that we don't have a headline WR like A.J. Green any more, I think our overall talent level from top to bottom is as solid as it's been in years. Tavarres King, Michael Bennett, Rantavious Wooten, Marlon Brown, and Chris Conley are all very competent receivers. Malcolm Mitchell was supposed to be our "next A.J. Green," but his offseason move to part-time linebacker has had exactly the effect we at Dawg Sports predicted it would have - his offensive production has dropped off dramatically. He still has the tools, but when you practice with the defense all offseason, you are going to lose a step on the offensive side of the ball. It's just inevitable.

As for Georgia's plan of attack on Saturday, the tropical storm-force winds that could be in effect could really mess up the long game that Murray and OC Mike Bobo like to use to blow a game open. (Not like that's happened much over the last two games, anyway.) The Carolina and Kentucky games were really an aberration, anyway, as far as historical trends go. Mike Bobo almost always tries to be balanced in his attack (sometimes to a chorus of criticism from the faithful in Athens). He almost always tries to establish the run, then use that to set up the long pass plays that make the highlight reels. With the inclement weather Saturday, I would be very surprised if Georgia didn't adopt a "run first" strategy. The battle on the lines will tell the tale of the game. (Which is why I've picked Georgia to lose, or, at least, will have done by about 3:30 PM on Friday at Dawg Sports.)

Georgia's never really been a "dink and dunk" West Coast-type passing offense. If we rely on the pass like we did against Kentucky, we'll lose, and probably big. Georgia has to effectively run the ball to even have a chance.

3. Florida's special teams broke out in a big way against South Carolina, but virtually every member of the special teams units has been quietly excellent all year. Special teams have been A Thing in recent years in this rivalry. Can Georgia compete on non-offensive/defensive snaps?

HO HO HO, well, sir, you haven't seen...

...

(weeps softly)
(throws a toaster out the window)

Next question.

4. Y'all know you jinxed the hell out of Georgia this year with "Gurshall," right? Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall haven't been the same since the nickname emerged, and that's clearly karmic payback for presuming they'd be close.

Well, see, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Everybody always wants to call the RB flavor of the day in Athens "the next Herschel," but we know that there will never be another running back in all of college football history as dominant as the Goal Line Stalker. (Right? I mean, hey, you guys know...) But two elite running backs combined? Well... that might at least be the basis for the start of an interesting comparison.

See, the problem is that COTG heard about it. He always likes to fu... er, screw with everything, just to make it interesting. (COTG cross-reference: sorry-ass teams from Mississippi vs. Florida.)

(But seriously, they're freshmen. Freshmen who get serious PT always wear down in the SEC as the season rolls on. It's absolutely inevitable. See also: John Theus, our true freshman RT. I was widely derided for saying he would start slow and get worse as the season rolled on... but here we are. I am right so rarely, and yet sometimes I hate it when I am.)

5. How does it feel to have even your best years scuttled by Florida and the rest of the SEC? I wouldn't know.

I don't know... how do you think it will feel at the end of this season to have gone 1-5 over the last three years against your two biggest rivals? Or to have a backup quarterback who is, in reality, just a sentient side of beef?

In closing, I would just like to say... Gators eat boogers. GO DWAGS ARP ARP

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