ATHENS — It was raining in Jacksonville, Fla., Tuesday, it’s supposed to be raining there on Thursday, and it’s almost certainly going to be raining there on Friday. Saturday, when No. 7 Georgia and No. 9 Florida meet at 3:30 p.m. for their annual bloodletting, there is only a 20 percent chance of rain as of Tuesday’s forecast. But as is the case whenever you plan an event next to a river and near the Intercoastal Waterway, there is always a chance of precipitation.
Accordingly, the Bulldogs were expecting to get in some wet-ball practice on Tuesday. They almost always sneak in a period or two where they dunk footballs into buckets of water each week, but based on the forecast and the location of the game, Georgia will likely be even more deliberate about that heading into Saturday’s game at TIAA Bank Stadium. Forecasts call for an 80 percent chance of rain on Friday, which could dampen the mood of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
TIAA, by the way, is the latest name for the stadium at which Georgia and Florida do battle each year. It acquired the rights when it took over EverBank in the last year. It also had AllTel Stadium for a while, and it was Jacksonville Municipal Stadium when it was originally built 22 years ago.
Of course, before that, it was the Gator Bowl. You’d think Georgia wouldn’t like that, but the Bulldogs actually dominated the series for a long period when it was called that.
But that’s enough name-calling. On to practice observations:
- The viewing period lasted only about five minutes, so there wasn’t much time to observe. No cameras were allowed either.
- It was hard to miss Ben Cleveland, however. The Bulldogs’ starting right guard, who is recovering from a broken fibula, was spotted on the field with trainer Ron Courson, who was putting him through some agility drills. But even though Cleveland was dressed out in full pads, don’t get your hopes up. Every drill he was doing was at walking to light jogging speed. Said Vince Dooley, who was watching from close by: “Looks like he’s moving in slow motion.” Accordingly, coach Kirby Smart pronounced Cleveland out earlier this week.
- The Bulldogs’ defensive backs were tackling walk-ons and scout-team players to the ground live and at full speed, even in drill work. Smart has complained about Georgia’s tackling ability in recent weeks and appears to be not leaving anything to chance.
- As usual, quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Justin Fields were two-spotting in pass skeleton drills. Both appeared on target.
- Georgia had rap music cranked up loudly for the beginning of practice. It was turned off during the brief viewing period.