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Florida vs. Georgia, The Rundown: When do Gators, Bulldogs have the edge?

Both teams look like they're going to be able to run and might struggle throwing the ball. But even Florida's disappointing special teams units are much better than Georgia's.

Don't expect to see much of this from Todd Gurley this Saturday.
Don't expect to see much of this from Todd Gurley this Saturday.
Sam Greenwood

The Rundown, er, runs on Saturdays, and breaks down how Florida and its foes match up in a variety of situations.

When Florida runs

Florida hasn't had a great running game this year, and it hasn't even been all that good of late. But Kelvin Taylor's emergence as Florida's starter means the Gators will have a more dangerous and explosive runner in the backfield than they've had all year. Taylor averages better than six yards a carry, and the only complaint about his play on the field this year has been how little Florida fans have seen of him. Florida's probably going to get Mack Brown, Valdez Showers, and Solomon Patton some work on the ground, too, but Taylor's the starter and Taylor should get at least 65 percent of the carries on the day.

Georgia's defense hasn't been very good this year, but it's been better at stopping the run (3.69 yards per carry allowed) than the pass. That nice average, though, is skewed by a great day against North Texas (seven yards allowed on 25 carres), and Georgia has allowed 15 rushing touchdowns through seven games — tied for No 87 nationally.

Edge: Florida

When Florida passes

Florida's passing game would seem to be well-equipped to riddle Georgia's secondary with completions — every other team has, after all. But Florida's had massive protection problems over its last two games, and doesn't have D.J. Humphries at left tackle for this game, leaving the Gators with the fan-reviled Tyler Moore protecting Tyler Murphy's blind side and the quickness-deficient Trenton Brown at right tackle. Murphy's had two weeks off since he looked bad against Missouri, and his receivers should be able to get open against Georgia's defenders, but how much time he'll have will probably determine the kind of day he has.

After all, Georgia gives up 7.7 yards per attempt, and has been bad on third-and-medium downs against the pass this year, giving up eight first downs on 16 tries to stop the pass on third and four through third and six. Leonard Floyd, Ray Drew, and Jordan Jenkins pressuring Murphy would seem to be the best answer to the question of whether Murphy will be able to move the ball through the air.

Edge: Georgia

When Georgia runs

Todd Gurley is back, and even if he's slowed after a high ankle sprain, 85 percent of Gurley is better than 100 percent of most backs. Gurley was averaging 6.34 yards per carry before his injury — and that was despite some other nicks that he was able to return from during the same game. Gurley also punished Florida last year, running for 118 yards on a defense that didn't allow 100 yards to any other player on the season, and he'll have some backup from J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas, who proved serviceable in his absence. Not having Keith Marshall means Georgia is short one fantastic change-of-pace back, though.

Florida was excellent against the run over its first three games, yielding under 2.5 yards per carry to Toledo, Miami, and Tennessee. And then Florida played just as well against Kentucky without Dominique Easley, giving up 2.2 yards per carry. Alas, the success did not continue against LSU and Missouri, as the Gators were gashed for exactly five yards per rush over those last two games. Damien Jacobs returns for Florida against Georgia, as do plus run defenders Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens, but Gurley's likely to be the best back the Gators have seen, and Georgia's line paved the way for their backs even when Gurley was out.

Edge: Georgia

When Georgia passes

Aaron Murray's the best quarterback Florida's will have seen, too, narrowly edging Zach Mettenberger, and if he has time to throw, he might be able to figure out who his wide receivers are hit some big plays against the Gators' secondary. Trouble is, Murray's receivers have been struck down by injury after injury, with Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley out for this game, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett banged up, and not much else available on the edge. Florida needs to worry about tight end Arthur Lynch, but unless Conley's knee and ankle are fine enough for him to play, it's hard to see Georgia receivers beating the Gators deep.

And that's even without considering that Florida's been tremendous against the pass this year, posting an absurd 211.0 S&P+ on Passing Downs that leads the nation and dwarfs No. 2 Virginia Tech's measly 156.6 in the statistic. Loucheiz Purifoy was picked on last year, but Florida's got more corners than it did then, and Georgia fewer receivers. If Georgia's winning this game, it will probably have to do so on the ground.

Edge: Florida

When Florida punts

Johnny Townsend was good in his first game as Florida's punter against Missouri, but he's still mostly an unknown quantity. Fortunately for the Gators, Georgia's bad at almost all manner of special teams, and has just 78 yards on 16 punt returns this year — and Florida's punt coverage is, per usual, excellent.

Edge: Florida

When Florida kicks off

Austin Hardin's iffy year as a placekicker hasn't affected his ability to boot the ball deep, and the Gators' great kick coverage has limited the returns that do come out of the end zone. Georgia's probably better here than any other aspect of special teams that isn't placekicking, but that's not hard, and it's really no better than average.

Edge: Florida

When Florida kicks

Francisco Velez is three for three over his first two games, and hasn't been a concern in his time as Florida's emergency kicker. Georgia has no history of blocking kicks, and Velez isn't the Florida kicker who's allowed one this year.

Edge: Florida

When Georgia punts

Collin Barber's averaging more than 45 yards per punt this season, but he's tailed off over the last three games, and gave Missouri great field position with a 30-yard punt early in a close game against the Tigers. He's also had two punts blocked and returned for touchdowns this year, and couldn't snag a high snap against Vanderbilt, giving the Commodores fantastic field position for the game-winning touchdown.

Oh, and Florida's still fantastic at gunning for punt blocks, and has been pretty good at punt returns.

Edge: Florida

When Georgia kicks off

Georgia's giving up nearly 24 yards per kickoff return, and yielded a touchdown to North Texas. Solomon Patton has one kick return touchdown, and is averaging nearly 30 yards per return. This is a mismatch.

Edge: Florida

When Georgia kicks

Florida's only disadvantage on special teams is Marshall Morgan's excellent play as a kicker. Morgan's made 10 of 12 field goals on the year, missing a long kick against North Texas and a short one against Tennessee, but he atoned for his miss against Tennessee with the game-winner in overtime, and has been automatic from short range.

Edge: Georgia


Andy Hutchins is Alligator Army's managing editor. Follow Alligator Army on Twitter and Facebook.