ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has played and coached enough SEC football not to be surprised by Florida’s resurrection under Dan Mullen.
The No. 7-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) play Mullen’s No. 9-ranked Gators (6-1, 4-1) in an SEC East showdown, both teams locked in a three-way tie with No. 12 Kentucky (6-1, 4-1) atop the division.
“Across the board they’ve got really good football players, Florida always has,” Smart said. “So the turnaround hasn’t come as a shock to me because Dan and his staff do a great job.”
The Gators are coming off a bye week, just like Georgia. But unlike the Bulldogs, Florida beat No. 4-ranked LSU this season, albeit, in Gainesville.
Smart said the Gators have more athleticism and added dimensions since the Bulldogs’ 42-7 victory in Jacksonville last season.
“They’re extremely athletic on defense, they’ve got one of the premier secondary cover guys,” Smart said. “They do a tremendous job on their offensive line, they’re huge, and they brought in receivers, they’ve got two receivers that are as good as anybody in the league.
“Those are added dimensions, one was there and wasn’t playing, and the other is now eligible, and that’s on top of the wideouts they already have.”
Florida — which was 4-7 last season — has won five straight,.
The Gators overcame a 21-3 deficit on the road at Vanderbilt last week to maintain their momentum.
“I’m not surprised at all, they’ve got talent,” Smart said. “They’ve got good football players, they had good football players last year.”
Mullen said he’s not sure Florida’s momentum going into the bye week or Georgia’s loss at LSU will have much to do with Saturday’s game in the Sunshine State.
“The most important thing you do is make sure the previous game doesn’t affect the next game, whether it’s a loss or a big win,” Mullen said. “You could make arguments that there’s advantages and disadvantages to both.
“The most important thing is to put that one behind you, and you start focusing on the next one and don’t let either your success or failure the previous week affect you the following week.”