FOOTBALL

Gators Gameday: Three questions for Florida football heading into Saturday's game with No. 1 Georgia

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports
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Three questions for Florida football heading into its matchup with the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville (3:30 p.m. CBS):

Can Florida's defense do a better job on third down and limit Georgia in the red zone?

It can't get any worse for the Gators on third down, can it? Florida's defense ranks 130th out of 131 FBS teams, allowing opponents to convert at a 52.6 percent rate.

If Florida's defense allows Georgia to move the chains, its best chance at an upset may come in stiffening inside the 20 and forcing Georgia to kick field goals rather than scoring touchdowns.

Georgia's touchdown percentage of 67.44 in the red zone ranks 8th in the SEC, as the Bulldogs have settled for 13 field goals in 43 trips inside the 20-yard line.

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Can Florida QB Anthony Richardson raise his level of play against an elite defense?

Richardson threw for 453 yards against Tennessee but that came against a Vols pass defense that ranks last in the SEC in pass defense at 329.7 yards per game.

Georgia, meanwhile, is first in the SEC in pass defense at 163.7 yards per game. Richardson threw two interceptions, including a pick-six, in his last meeting with Georgia last season.

Expect Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the rest of Georgia's defensive staff, which includes former Florida coach Will Muschamp, to throw some different wrinkles at Richardson to try to force him into more mistakes.

Can the Gators pressure Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV into mistakes?

Florida's best chance to pull off an upset will be to create a lopsided turnover margin. That begins by putting heat on Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and forcing him into mistakes.

Bennett threw two interceptions against the Gators last season but has been unflappable this season, posting a TD-to-interception ratio of 7 to 1.

Florida has recorded six interceptions and could have had a seventh two weeks ago against LSU if not for a questionable roughing the passing penalty on Gervon Dexter Sr. that negated a Jason Marshall Jr. pick.

KEY MATCHUP

Florida safety Rashad Torrence II vs. Georgia tight end Brock Bowers:

It's going to take the entire secondary to deal with Bowers, but it begins with Torrence, who has the primary job covering tight ends.

Expect defensive back Tre'Vez Johnson and safety Trey Dean to help as well as Florida will try different looks in zone coverage to keep Georgia's passing game off-balance.

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