Published: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 12:31 a.m.
Staff writers Robbie Andreu and Adam West take a closer look at Florida vs. Georgia.
'Dogs were Gator fans — for a day
Is it bad karma to root for the team you're playing against a week later? The Bulldogs are going to find out. The Georgia coaches, players and fan base all gritted their teeth last Saturday and pulled for the Gators to beat South Carolina, the team that mauled the Bulldogs a few weeks ago and put their Eastern Division championship hopes in jeopardy. UGA needed UF to beat USC to give the Gamecocks a second SEC loss and erase the tiebreaker South Carolina held over Georgia. The Gators came through for the Bulldogs, who had to like what they saw. Or maybe they didn't. Florida beat the team that beat Georgia 35-7 by 33 points. Bad karma? We'll see.
Another week, another beast
Brent Pease coached in the SEC at Kentucky a decade ago, so he knows how tough it is to go against SEC defenses every week. But after being at Boise State the last few years, he has to be a little shell-shocked by what his offense has had to contend with lately. Three weeks ago, it was an LSU defensive front that featured future NFL defensive linemen Barkevious Mingo, Anthony Johnson and Sam Montgomery. Last week it was South Carolina defensive ends Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney, who may be even better than the LSU guys. Now, it's Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who can dominate a game like he did last year against the Gators, sacking John Brantley four times. “You've got to always have a game plan that you're going to be able to handle the Clowneys, the Montgomerys, the Mingos, the Joneses. It's a little different (than in the WAC),” Pease said.
'Dogs barking at each other
If Georgia comes up with a strong defensive performance today, the players likely are going to say they were motivated by the bickering among some of the defensive players earlier in the week after safety Shawn Williams accused some of his teammates of playing soft. The reality is, the Bulldogs probably are going to play one of their best games on defense, at least statistically, because the Gators aren't doing much on offense in terms of passing yards and total yards. UF has passed for less than 100 yards in each of the last three games. In the win over South Carolina last Saturday, the Gators scored 44 points but gained less than 200 yards (183). So, the odds are pretty good that the struggling UGA defense will have perhaps its best game statistically. Is it because they're motivated by the bickering?
Young pups getting it done
Georgia's ground game is run on the legs of two true freshman tailbacks — Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The two kids have combined to rush for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns. They're both home-run threats with their speed. Gurley is averaging 6.7 yards a carry and Marshall 7.0. They have given the UGA offense balance and taken some of the pressure off quarterback Aaron Murray. The Gators certainly are familiar with Marshall, whom they recruited heavily. Their relatively late visit with Marshall led tailback commitment Mike Davis to back out of his pledge to UF. He ended up going to South Carolina and played in last Saturday's game in The Swamp.
Eyes on Atlanta
The stakes couldn't be much higher in an already heated rivalry, with today's winner in the driver's seat to Atlanta for the SEC Championship in December. Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC) would clinch the East with a victory today, while Georgia (6-1, 4-1) would earn a desperately needed tiebreaker over Florida with only Ole Miss (4-3, 1-2) and Auburn (1-6, 0-5) remaining on the conference slate. Florida coach Will Muschamp has told his players not to treat any game as more important than the others, but the Gators know the importance of today's game.
Exit stage left
It wasn't pretty the first and only time Georgia has been challenged this season. In the Bulldogs' lone game against a team that owns a winning record, South Carolina dominated from the start in a 35-7 victory over then-No. 5 Georgia. Despite the dismantling, the Bulldogs still have a shot at a trip to Atlanta with a win today. How will Georgia respond in its return to the big stage against a UF team that defeated the Gamecocks 44-11 last week?
Running against the wind
Weather conditions could play a role in today's showdown at EverBank Field. Both coaching staffs are keeping an eye on Hurricane Sandy, which will be passing by Florida's east coast this weekend. While the chance of rain is only 30 percent, a wind advisory has been issued for Jacksonville today with winds up to 30 mph. The conditions could effectively neutralize the passing game which would likely benefit the Gators, who rank third in the SEC in both rushing offense (212.7 ypg) and rushing defense (97.3 ypg). Georgia's offense relies heavily on QB Aaron Murray, who is tied for third in the league with 273.4 passing yards per game, and UF's Jeff Driskel, who has less than 100 passing yards in the last three games, has proven to be more than comfortable with running the ball.
Florida sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy wasted no time in making his presence known during last week's big win over South Carolina. On the game's first offensive play, Purifoy broke free on a corner blitz and forced a fumble by Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw that was recovered by teammate Lerentee McCray on South Carolina's 2-yard line. The versatile Purifoy, who even lined up at wide receiver last week, has 27 tackles on the season and is one of Florida's top gunners on kickoffs and punts. Look for him to make his mark today.