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Fact or Fiction: Gap between Florida and Georgia is not as wide as gap between Tennessee and Florida

By Robbie Andreu and Pat Dooley/Staff writers
Gainesville Sun
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask throws against Georgia during last year's game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports]

Published on: Aug 8, 2020 at 12:38 p.m.

Our Fact or Fiction segment continues as we get closer to the SEC schedule being released and maybe even games being played in late September. Maybe. Sun staffers Robbie Andreu and Pat Dooley continue to embrace the debate:

Item 1 

The gap between Florida and Georgia is not as wide as the gap between Tennessee and Florida.

Andreu: I’m not any good at math and I know better than to compare scores, but I’m going to do both in this instance. After last year’s game in Jacksonville, when Dan Mullen was asked how big the gap was between the Gators and the Bulldogs, he gave the perfect answer: seven points, because the score of the game was 24-17. So, based on the score, not much of a gap. Now, to last year’s Tennessee game. The Gators won 34-3, so a 31-point gap, which is considerable. The reality is the gap between the three schools isn’t all that wide, although the Gators have a bigger one on UT than UGA has on UF. FACT.

Dooley: This was debated by members of The Athletic staff the other day and a lot of it is based on that run the Vols had at the end of the season when they beat up on a lot of mediocrity and the recruiting class Tennessee is putting together. I would point to the first Coaches’/SID poll that came out this week. Florida and Georgia are both in the Top 10. Tennessee is unranked. I do believe Florida fans think the gap is tighter between Florida and Georgia than it actually is. That doesn’t mean Florida can’t beat Georgia, especially because of Dan Mullen. But Georgia has recruited better over the last three years and has better players. Tennessee, beat somebody and get back to me. FACT. 

Item 2

 Zachary Carter will have more sacks this season than highly rated and highly regarded Georgia transfer Brenton Cox.

Andreu: Everyone is jacked up to see what Cox does on the field this fall after sitting out last season. Not only was he a five-star recruit coming out of high school, he’s wearing No. 1 this season, which means the coaching staff thinks highly of him. Well, they think highly of Carter, too. Carter had a near-breakout season last year filling in for the injured Jabari Zuniga, recording 4.5 sacks and 7.0 tackles for losses. He’s primed to break out completely this fall. And he’s pretty much going to own that end spot, while Cox is going to have to battle senior Jeremiah Moon and several other promising young players for playing time at the rush-end spot. That position may produce more sacks than Carter, but Carter wins the sack count against Cox. FACT.

Dooley: This staff doesn’t give out that No. 1 jersey without giving it some thought and all indications are that Cox could have the kind of year that lands him on the All-SEC team. It didn’t hurt that Cox, even though he had to sit out last year, got a real understanding of the Florida defense under Todd Grantham and learned from Jon Greenard. If he plays as hard as Greenard did in 2019, Cox could be an All-American. Nothing against Carter, who was really coming on at times last season, and we always have to see about the health of players. But there is something about Cox that screams he will be an amazing player. FICTION.

Item 3

The UF offensive line gave up only 25 sacks last season. The number will be even lower in 2020.

Andreu: I’m basing this on the theory/assumption that the Gators are going to have a much more productive running game. It’s amazing that the big guys gave up only 25 sacks in 2019 with the Gators having almost zero running game and an almost all-pass offense. So, if the running game is better and more reliable, it takes pressure off the passing game -- and off the quarterback -- and brings the play-action passing game into the game plan. Plus, there are fewer games this season, so the number will drop below 25, maybe even 20. FACT.

Dooley: The biggest reason to believe this is a fact -- Florida is only playing 10 games this season and may not even play that many. If the Gators were playing a 13-game schedule (or even 14), it could be a higher number than 25. Defenses are going to try to get after Kyle Trask because they saw some bad throws last year that somehow were not turned into interceptions. I expect Trask to be better, but the offensive line still has to show me that it has truly improved. That said, not all of those sacks occurred when Trask was playing. Anyway, the bottom line is fewer games mean fewer sacks. FACT.