Gators, Bulldogs working on themselves during bye week

Georgia coach Kirby Smart, left, and Florida coach Dan Mullen are preparing their teams this week for the next meeting of SEC rivals at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Nov. 2. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

 There will be plenty of time next week to focus on the opponent. But during this bye week for Florida and Georgia, both teams are focusing inward, on themselves, and not on each other.

 The Bulldogs are looking to improve, especially offensively in the passing game, coming off back-to-back spotty performances against South Carolina and Kentucky.

 The Gators looking to rest up and get healthy for the start of game week on Monday.

 “We’re trying to get some guys healthy, get caught up, get some of our guys rest,” UF coach Dan Mullen said on the SEC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday. “I don’t think there are a lot of teams that have played eight games so far this year. We’re one of them.

 “We want to get our guys physically and mentally fresh. We also get the opportunity to work on some things you might not get to (during a game week), a lot of little individual things. Cleaning some things up you’ve been doing throughout the season. Work on ourselves to get it cleaned up.”

 The Gators are expecting to get three injured starters back next week — wide receiver Kadarius Toney and defensive ends Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga. Mullen said earlier this week that he expects all three to play.

 Toney has missed the last six games with a shoulder injury.

 “He’s a playmaker. He’s an explosive guy when the ball is in his hands,” Mullen said. “So, having that back, the more playmakers you can put on the field the better you are, the harder you are to defense and the more explosive you can be.

 “It would be great to get him back out there.”

 While the Gators are spending their week before game week seeking rest and rehab, the Bulldogs also are focusing on themselves, working on trying to improve on the recent shortcomings against South Carolina and Kentucky.

 “Our guys are preparing, just getting better right now,” UGA coach Kirby Smart said. “We’re going to see the doctor and psychologist. We’re trying to get better at everything we do. We’re working on Georgia more than anything to get fundamentally ready.”
The Bulldogs likely will  spend a healthy portion of their time taking a look at their passing game, which is coming off back-to-back subpar performances.

 In an overtime loss to South Carolina two weeks ago, quarterback Jake Fromm threw 51 passes (way above his average) and was intercepted three times, including once in overtime.

 Then last week in a heavy rain game with Kentucky, Fromm and the passing game disappeared. He completed nine of 12 passes for just 35 yards.

 “Fifty percent of that would be conditions,” Smart said. “It was tough for anybody to palm a ball and throw a ball and effectively catch it. We had DBs dropping ball all over the place out there, interceptions. It was tough on both sides. That’s 50 percent of it.

 “When you look back to South Carolina, there’s a lot of passes in that game for a Georgia football team. There’s a lot of opportunities to pass it. In those cases, some of it was quarterback decision, some of it was a little bit continuity, chemistry, some of it was accuracy and some of it was protection. So, it was a combination of things.”

 Both Smart and Mullen have a lot of respect for the quarterback they will be facing a week from Saturday in Jacksonville.

 “He’s a good quarterback,” Smart said of Kyle Trask. “He’s more athletic than you think he is. He does a good job running it. He’s got a great corps of wide receivers. They’ve got a really, really veteran group, probably one of the best, including the tight end, probably in the country.

 “Kyle has done a tremendous job coming in and taking over and not skipping a beat. Dan always does a great with his quarterbacks.”

 Mullen certainly knows a good quarterback when he sees one, and he’s clearly impressed with Fromm.

 “He does a great job,” Mullen said. “He’s a really smart player, gets them into the right plays, can check and manage what’s going ton. Can check the running play, check their protection and get things picked up. He’s accurate with the ball in his hands.

 “He’s got some athletic ability to extend plays. They don’t do a whole lot of quarterback run game with him. But he’s athletic. When he starts to scramble, he can make things happen.”

Up next

Who: No. 7 Florida (7-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. No. 10 Georgia (6-1, 3-1)

When: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2

Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


  1. They will probably play? Really? So what was the extent of Zuniga’s ankle injury. Was it a high-ankle sprain like Grenard’s, the kind that can take months to fully heal? How realistic is it to think they’ll be able to return to serious action for the big game against the Dawgs? Who has sources to reveal the answers to such questions. Do the writers who cover the Gator football beat have sources behind the scenes to find out what the real skinny is? On the other hand, it’s probably better that the competition knows no more than the fans about the playing status of injured players until the whistle blows. It just really bugs me not knowing if two big-time, impact players on defense are going to really be back to help shut UGA down and send those mutts whimping back home again.