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Florida vs. Georgia: An absence of belief

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No one outside of Florida's locker room expects the Gators to win this weekend.

Rob Foldy

I don't think Florida's going to beat Georgia this weekend. Be honest: Neither do you.

The Florida team we've seen for the past six games — Florida's only played six games this season, somehow, despite those six games rivaling the full run of Lost in their ponderousness — is not good enough to beat Georgia, even if uber-back Todd Gurley remains in eligibility purgatory over something as stupid as possibly getting paid for his likeness. Georgia mauled the Missouri team that stomped Florida, and even if Treon Harris playing all or most of the snaps at quarterback for the Gators obviates turnovers like the ones that led to the Tigers' thrashing, Florida's issues with so many other things make it hard to believe this team can beat that one.

Georgia has morphed from a young outfit with a limited quarterback and a weak secondary, the team that lost to defenseless South Carolina with Gurley, into a disciplined team, one with a superb game manager wisely using his weapons and a defense that stops the run, pressures the quarterback mercilessly, and avoids giving up big plays.

And while I do fair bit of that metamorphosis and improved performance is due to the Bulldogs playing Troy, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Arkansas over their last four games, I'm simply not sure Florida's better than even the best of those teams; certainly, the Gators proved to be empirically worse than Missouri, highest-ranked of those five schools in F/+ at No. 36, nine days ago.

Georgia is ranked No. 9, closer to No. 3 Alabama than to any other team the Gators have seen. Florida is No. 58, just 1.0 percent better than the average standard of play nationally.

And that's worse than the Gators were in 2013.

2013 Florida finished at, perfectly, No. 48 in F/+, and 6.1 percent above that "average," thanks to very good defense and special teams. The 2014 iteration has played poorly on offense over its last four games after two promising outings to begin the year, and been occasionally ruined on defense (almost every yard counted against Alabama in a game that only briefly went into "garbage time"; LSU punished the Gators on the ground) and special teams (Missouri got two return touchdowns before "garbage time") over six games; that 2013 team, for all its faults, didn't have as many blowout losses as this 2014 team already does until its full 12 games were done.

The turnovers that helped the Gators early this year have evanesced, and Harris's play against Missouri, with iffy decisions that mostly just weren't as devastating as Jeff Driskel's, doesn't leave me entirely convinced that Florida's biggest issue on offense will be solved with him running the show. And those two big things not going in Florida's favor would make all the little things Georgia does well — staying on schedule and forcing other teams off of it, mostly — even more painful.

And so I'm left thinking that there's just no way Florida wins this one.

I've felt this way about Florida under Will Muschamp before, but only once, prior to a game matching 4-7 Florida against unbeaten Florida State in 2013. And even those Gators did what I hoped rather than what I expected early in that game, raging against the dying of the light and putting a governor on the FSU offense for a quarter and a half, before the Seminoles revved their engines and dusted Florida.

At this point in this season, I only expect painful, pitiful play from these Gators. And I count myself among the "nobody," at least outside of Florida's own locker room, that believes in their ability to win their next game.

I'd love nothing more than to be proven wrong. I doubt I will be.