As we do every week, five projections for Georgia’s matchup with No. 14 Florida:
1. WILL GEORGIA’S GAMEPLAN BE OPENED UP?
Yes. There will be traditional (and predictable) running between the tackles, but it won’t be the staple of the offense, unlike past weeks. Given a bye week, the guess here is Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney know they have to be less predictable, and given that it’s Florida, a team they must beat, they’ll play to their current strengths. That doesn’t mean Jacob Eason in the shot-gun all day – Florida’s stupendous cornerbacks mean you can’t pass it that much. But Chaney’s gameplan will find a way to get the ball to Isaiah McKenzie, Terry Godwin and the tight ends in the slot and middle of the field. And you’ll see Nick Chubb and Sony Michel run outside the tackles more.
2. SO, WILL IT WORK?
Reasonably. The guess here is Georgia puts together a handful of very good drives, especially early in the game. Then Florida will adjust, perhaps switching those all-world corners to follow the slot guys or tight ends. (Something it may already be considering for the start of the game.) What happens after those adjustments may dictate the game: Is it check-mate, or does Georgia’s offensive line suddenly take over a game?
3. WHAT ABOUT FLORIDA’S OFFENSE?
The Gators are better passing (fifth in the SEC at 244.7 yards per game) than rushing (ninth in the SEC at 181.8 ypg). The Bulldogs have been better against the run than the pass, so it appears the question becomes whether Georgia’s secondary plays like it’s 2015 or 2016. If it’s the latter, Florida should move the ball well. But do you trust Luke Del Rio yet? If Georgia’s secondary plays well, forces a turnover or two, and the pass rush is good, then that’s another check-mark towards a Georgia upset.
4. SO DOES GEORGIA COVER THE SPREAD?
Yes. It shouldn’t be a blowout. This feels like the Tennessee game, where the Bulldogs come to play, and coaches have a good gameplan. Florida is a good but not great team, so the game should be within a touchdown … if the Bulldogs indeed play like this beat writer suspects they will.
5. BUT DOES GEORGIA WIN?
….. Ehhhhh, tempting …. But sorry, can’t pull the trigger on the upset pick. We have to see this team, and this coaching staff, do it first. There’s too much inexperience on the field and on the sidelines for Georgia, and the sense here is Florida and Jim McElwain will make just enough adjustments to eke it out.