Georgia Bulldogs: 5 Keys to Victory Against Florida


Before I give you my five keys for the Georgia Bulldogs in their upcoming rivalry game against the Florida Gators, I need to vent.

The annual “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” is played in Jacksonville, Florida every year at a “neutral site.” I have always thought that word “neutral” is misused there. The Gators will have to travel, by bus, an hour or so to Jacksonville. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, will have to board a plane to get to the neutral venue, in the Gators’ home state no less. It’s time the powers that be reassess the venue that hosts this all-important game.

Mark Richt knows not to make mention of this because it could cost his wallet. The coach said during Tuesday’s weekly press conference: “I learned a long time ago not to make mention of the location of the game. All I’ll say is that we are looking forward to playing Florida on Saturday…In Jacksonville.” Smart move by Richt to stray away from the topic, but the facts still remain.

It isn’t a neutral site if the game is played in the state of Florida and it isn’t a neutral site if the game is played significantly closer to one school than the other. How would Florida fans respond to the game being moved to Atlanta? That’s the equivalent to Jacksonville, in my humble opinion. Alright. I’ve said my piece. On to the keys for Georgia.

1) Pressure Treon Harris Without Blitzing

The Dawgs will face freshman quarterback Treon Harris, not Jeff Driskel, this weekend. The 5-foot-11 Harris offers the Gators a more mobile option from under center, and Georgia will have to be prepared to stop his scrambling ability. However, the most important aspect of Georgia’s defensive game plan will center around getting pressure on the young QB without blitzing.

Georgia will need Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd to have big games getting after the passer. If they can get pressure, without getting too far up field, the Gators will have trouble scoring points.

2) Beware of Trick Plays

I can say with near certainty that Florida will run at least one gimmick play in this game. A fake punt, field goal, or onside kick will inevitably happen. Georgia must be prepared for such an occurrence. I hate to keep saying that Florida has been awful, but the fact is, they have been awful and Will Muschamp’s job is on the line because of it. With that being said, the coaching staff at Florida has surely got to be reaching into their bag of tricks to try and spark a team that has lost 12 out of its last 19 games.

Florida has lost 15 turnovers in the past four games, so when Will Muschamp said that they “have been struggling to get anything going offensively,” he may have been downplaying their problems. If the Gators can’t score points on offense, they may well try and get points from elsewhere. Georgia should be on the lookout for trick plays on special teams and fourth downs.

3) Convert on Third Downs

Georgia’s success on offense will be predicated on whether or not it can convert on third downs. The UGA offense has had some success thus far in the department. Converting on 43% (38/88) third downs in 2014, the offense has kept the chains moving for the most part. This week, however, the task may not be so easy. Florida’s defense, which I believe is being underrated by a lot of Georgia fans, has averaged six three-and-outs a game in 2014.

So how does Georgia go about converting on third down? Easy. Have success on first and second downs. Georgia needs to continue mixing the play calling on first and second downs because it has led to them averaging 6.6 yards per play. You don’t need me to tell you that’ll get first downs, but I will anyway.

4) Score Touchdowns in the Red Zone

Georgia cannot settle for field goals in the red zone, and so far this year, they haven’t. The offense has hit paydirt on 26 of 38 (68%) red zone possessions to this point in the season. By scoring touchdowns and not settling for three points, Georgia can take whatever wind Florida had left out of its sails. One glaring absence from Georgia’s red zone offense, and offense in general, has been the tight ends Jay Rome and Jeb Blazevich.

Again, it hasn’t really cost Georgia any production, but something tells me that Rome and/or Blazevich will have to make a red zone play this weekend. The offense has to keep the foot on the pedal when it gets inside the 20. If they do, the Dawgs should run away from Florida early on.

5) Play With Passion, Not Stupidity

Richt said earlier this week that Georgia “needs to play with emotion without fouling.” Easier said than done in a game that usually gets chippy at some point. Georgia’s averaging six penalties for 49 yards a game in 2014. The penalty battle, much like the turnover battle, will be a deciding factor in who wins this game.

That isn’t to say Georgia can’t play with emotion and passion, because they must do that. But, unnecessary late hits, or pushing and shoving after the whistle needs to be nonexistent if Georgia expects to win its fourth straight game versus the Gators.