Campus Clash

(8) Georgia Bulldogs at (6) Florida Gators

Georgia: Let’s admit it, they haven’t been the same dominant team as we’ve seen them look in previous years. I’ll even take it back to their game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In a game where they had so many opportunities to break it open and pull away, they allowed Notre Dame to stay in the game. They still won that showdown, but not by as much as people expected. They rolled until a few weeks ago when they were stunned by the hands of a conference rival in South Carolina. The Georgia Bulldogs have been the class of the SEC East for the last three years. Now, there’s a cause for concern. However, one loss doesn’t eliminate their playoff and championship aspirations. I still like this team, but I don’t get the aggression from their offense this year as I have the last two years. They lost Jim Chaney to Tennessee and James Coley is in his first year running the offense under Kirby Smart. Part of being a scary offense is having the ability to keep a defense always guessing and under James, I don’t get that feeling. Don’t ever be afraid to take shots down the field, spread your receivers out or mix up your play calls. On first down, they would run the same dive play. Open things up and simplify your playbook! This is still a good football team, but they aren’t clicking on all cylinders as we are accustomed to seeing. On Saturday, their annual showdown with Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators will take place.

Florida: They’ve really impressed me this year. I’ve been able to preview three of their games with this of course being the fourth and each time I watched them, I left respecting them even more. The game they really grabbed my attention was against the Auburn Tigers a few weeks ago when they handed them their first loss of the year. Ever since Kyle Trask came into replace Feleipe Franks, the Florida offense has been on an uptick. Kyle has done a tremendous job of coming in and not missing a beat with this offense. Usually, it takes a new quarterback a while to get acclimated to the offensive system, that wasn’t the case for Kyle. He’s found his momentum with the help of tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receivers Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain. Outside of their passing game, they’ve been able to display balance by running the football with Lamical Perine. As a defense, this is one of the three best units in the SEC. You could even make a case for them being one of the best defenses in the entire country. They apply a consistent amount of pressure on the quarterback, they have a secondary that’s capable of making any quarterback throw the football too soon which results in a turnover and when it comes to shutting down the run, they’re statistically solid at shutting that down. Defense was never a problem in Tallahassee. Under former head coach Jim McElwain, they were always one of the best units in football with guys who were more than ready to play at the next level in the NFL. For years, it was the offense that was holding them back which is exactly why they hired Dan Mullen, an offensive minded guy to fix things. In just his second year, he’s helped them improve significantly in just about each phase of the game. With a win on Saturday, they’ll be on track to win the SEC East for the first time since 2016

Georgia Player to Watch: Tyler Clark– He’s their best defensive linemen that always feasts on anyone trying to block him. Nowadays, you’re seeing defenses get built up with pass rushers on the interior. Tyler can stop the run, force the quarterback to get out the pocket then make his move to bring him down. The Florida Gators better keep number 52 in their sights at all time.

Florida Player to Watch: Jabari Zuniga– If you’ve watched Florida Gators football, this kid’s name gets mentioned frequently and rightfully so because he’s been that good. He can line up as an edge defender and inside as well. He was meant to play football. Even when he doesn’t get to the quarterback, he does more than enough to be that disruptive force for the Gators defense.

Final Analysis: This is always a fun game to watch when these two get set to play each other. There’s always something on the line when they meet. The winner of this game will win have a clear path to the division title along with a trip more than likely to play in the SEC title game in Atlanta in December. So yes, there’s a lot to play for. Georgia will need to sustain long drives, keep the clock running and keep their defense rested. I also hope their offense opens their playbook up. Florida needs to pressure Jake Fromm. Get him out of rhythm and make him work. Whichever team can dominate the line of scrimmage defensively will win this game.

Prediction: Georgia 27 Florida 24

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