JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia football needs to get back to being itself to beat Florida, and that means an identify based on toughness and execution.
The Bulldogs opened the season looking very much like an explosive team on offense with a disciplined, opportunistic defense, and that’s what it will take to beat Florida in today’s 3:30 p.m. SEC East Division showdown.
Make no mistake about it, the season is on the line for No. 7-ranked Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) against the No. 9-ranked Gators (6-1, 4-1).
The even bigger picture is that only one team can exit the game with it’s arrow pointing “Up” — and a Bulldogs’ loss would mark the program’s second in a row — something that hasn’t happened since the middle of Kirby Smart’s inaugural season.
A recent rash of de-commitments — including two 5-star prospects — has Georgia fans on edge.
Here are the three keys to today’s game:
Momentum is such a major factor in rivalry games, and Georgia can do itself a big favor with the kind of start it had against Vanderbilt when the Bulldogs scored three offensive touchdowns in the first half.
In the other four SEC games — against South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and LSU — Georgia has a total of just two offensive touchdowns.
It’s a trend that needs to reverse itself, especially now that the Georgia coaches have had time to evaluate their talent and know which playmakers QB Jake Fromm should be looking to feed the ball.
Mecole Hardman opened the season with at least one touchdown in the first four games averaging nearly 150 total yards, but the last three games his longest reception is just 25 yards and his total yards average has slipped to 60. With teams bracketing Hardman, other receivers need to step up and make plays.
In the run game, the four UGA backs have combined for 154 carries in the SEC games, the longest run was a 26-yarder against South Carolina by Elijah Holyfield. In fact, Holyfield has the only 100-yard rushing game this season for Georgia.
Freshman quraterback Justin Fields could be the answer to spark the run game if the Bulldogs can’t get it rolling the more conventional way with Holyfield, Swift, Brian Herrien or James Cook.
Rattle Feleipe Franks
You read that right, as much criticism as Florida’s quarterback has taken the past seasons, he’s shown great improvement and his mobility has the potential to cause Georgia problems.
The Bulldogs have not used a great deal of pressure packages, instead playing coverage and relying on their playmakers in the secondary to create turnovers.
“He’s very sharp, he’s much more disciplined with the ball, he protects the ball better, he has better playmakers, so he has people around him and he’s got really good wideouts that make him right,” Kirby Smart said.
Franks has the ability to scramble and keep his eyes downfield while extending plays, so Georgia will need to pick its spot to pressure and hit the Gators quarterback enough early to create some doubt and elements of unpredictability.
Mike Griffith shared 3 keys on SEC Network Friday night
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